How to explore Iceland

21. September 2016 

Iceland, a land of natural fascination!

For us it is the first time in Iceland. There are different possibilities how to explore Iceland. In the end we decided us to rent a camper van to be free for the whole trip as well as have our own little home here on Iceland.

22. September 2016 

Our trip starts

On the first day we arrived from Switzerland with Icelandair. For the first time of all our experiences, the travelling was stressed. It started at home where we missed the bus. Then we had to run to the train station with our entire luggage (heavy ones – packed to the limit what the flight company allows) to catch the train to Zürich Main Station. From there to the airport the train company had a technical defect, so we had to make a detour via Winterthur to get to Zürich Airport. Because of sprinting from the train straight to the check-in (still with our heavy luggage) and a 10 minute delay of the aircraft, we didn’t miss the package drop off. In the end everything worked and we had an overslept flight. What a start of our holiday! Anyway…we were on the way to Iceland.
In Iceland there was a shuttle bus that brought us to the camper rental. After a short explanation and storing our entire luggage into the camper van, we were ready to start. We went to Vogar where we spent the first night.

23. September 2016 

The Golden Circle

Iceland exploration in a camperToday we start to explore Iceland
Our awaking was great. We both had a good night because of the wide and comfortable bed in our camper van. We had a bit of Zwieback, jam and hazelnut cream for breakfast. After dish washing we were ready to start.
Our first stop was an OLIS Gas station, where we had a free coffee.
Then we went on to Þingvellir, a place of beautiful nature. Here we went or a short walk around nice stone formations and beautiful rivers with small waterfalls.
The next stop was Geysir. On the way we stopped to cook lunch. Because it was quite windy it took a bit of time to boil some water, but we had chosen beautiful scenery.
Geysir was the first natural phenomena named like that. Because of it the other similar natural phenomena worldwide are also named Geysir. It is now seldom active. But nearby there is Strokkur, which erupts every 5 to 10 minutes. We had the chance to see this Geysir from different places (close by and also from the top of a hill). But you have to be fast to get a good picture, because the duration of the eruption is only a few seconds.
After Geysir we went to Gullfoss, a tremendous waterfall. The power of the water is huge and impressive when you see it is falling down the canyon.
Our day ended in Hella, where we spent our second night in our camper van.
Driving the Golden circle
(Click on the picture to see the slideshow)

24. September 2016 

The south of Iceland and their Fosses – Waterfalls

The inside of the camperAfter a windy, rainy night we started our journey around Iceland. We headed further southwest to Seljalandsfoss. We were impressed of the waterfall and it was fun walking behind it to take pictures and videos. A short walk behind, we found some smaller waterfalls. You can explore one of them in a canyon until you come to the point where the water hits the ground. You can also watch it from the height after a short hike and climb – impressive.
After this small adventure we went back to the parking lot and drove further to Skógafoss. On the right side of this 60 meter high and 25 meter wide waterfall, we went for a short hike up along the river with beautiful stone formation and additional small waterfall formations. After this we went back to the camper van and went further on the ring road to Kap Dyrhóley. It was very windy and we saw a lot of big waves crashing into the cliffs and the stone formations in the water. It is said, that these stone formations are trolls, which were surprised from the sun and thus turned into stone. After that we went to the nearby black beach. Near there we saw a lot of different basalt stone formations (towers, a big cave and other nice shapes). We then drove further to Kirkjubæjarklaustur where we spent our night.
The day of Waterfalls in Iceland
(Click on the picture to see the slideshow)

25. September 2016 

Between Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Höfn

Today we started right in the village, where we slept. There we went first to the Systrafoss and Kirkjugólf, a natural basalt stone “floor”. From there we went further to Skaftafell, where we made a hike up to Svartifoss. We were impressed, how many tourists make this walk, but what impressed us most, was this waterfall in the middle of hundreds basalt stones, which hanged down. It is just incredible, what the nature is possible to produce!
Next stop was Jökulsárlón, a glacier lake with a lot of icebergs. Some of them are almost black, probably the one that have been at the outside, when it was still connected with the glacier. But the others had such a nice clear blue, we really liked.
Our day ended in Höfn on the campsite.
From Kirkjubæjarklaustur to Jökulsárlón
(Click on the picture to see the slideshow)

26. September 2016 

Northern lights in Hallormsstađir 

Our sleeping areaWhat a day. It started in Höfn, from where we headed to the north. On that way we drove around different fjords. The scenery was fantastic so we decided not to take the direct line through the mountains, but driving at the seaside to past more fjords. At 12.30am we started to look for a shelter to cook lunch. When it was 2.00pm we had seen different parking lots but never a shelter, we decided to eat only a cup of Skýr and some zwiebacks before going on.
In Egilsstaðir we drove in the direction of Borgarfjörður Eystra. We loved the scenery from the road because it went up to a hill which we had a nice view. We enjoyed it and then drove back to Egilsstađir. We bought some food in the Bonus-Supermarket and then went to the campsite Atlavik in Hallormsstađir.
The campsite is right at the lake Lagarfljót with a fantastic view. We were happy about this, because the sky was clear in the evening and the probability forecast for seeing Northern Lights was pretty good. When the sun was already gone we decided to cook spaghetti and afterwards eating outside at our table and chairs for the first time of our holiday (a bit freezing, but nice ?). When we went to brush our teeth, the Northern Lights started to be very active – wow! The next two hours we sat outside and observed the sky. After that we went to bed to heat ourselves up and set the timer for 23.15pm to go outside again. Even though we were tired, it was a good decision to go out again. The northern lights were very active and it was a wonderful spectacle ?
Icelandic Northern lights
(Click on the picture to see the slideshow)

27. September 2016 

Grand Canyon of Europe in the northeast of Iceland 

After that magical night with the Northern Lights, we woke up late. After we finished our breakfast we drove further along the lake Lagarfljót to Hengifoss. From the parking lot we had to hike for about one hour to two beautiful waterfalls, whose shapes and stone formations told us about the history of different lava layers, which went over the land.
Afterwards we traveled further the Ring road, route Nr. 1, up to the region of Dettifoss which is also called the ‘Grand Canyon of Europe’. The waterfall Dettifoss itself is the biggest waterfall in Europe. When you stand side by side to this huge amount of water falling into the canyon, you feel yourself pretty small and of course impressed. We also visited the nearby waterfall Selfoss, which is smaller, but gave us a very nice view with his small side-waterfalls. After visiting these waterfalls the sun was already near to the horizon and we decided to travel towards Lake Mývatn.
On the way we stopped at a place where we saw white-yellow steaming rocks. The air was full of sulfur. We hiked up a little hill with a nice view over this valley and recognized that there seemed to be more of these steamy locations around Lake Mývatn. We looked forward to explore them, but the sun almost reached the horizon so we traveled to the campsite of Mývatn, enjoyed the sunset and then finished the day with a warm meal.
Camper van travelling in Iceland
(Click on the picture to see the slideshow)

28. September 2016 

Lake Mývatn, a volcanic area

Today we started with a walk at Viti, a crater lake near Lake Mývatn. Our second walk was at Leirhnjukur, where fumaroles and solfatara can be visited. To see and touch the black magma was really impressive.
The next stop was Grjótagjá, a crevice in the rock with a small lake. Lots of local people liked to take a bath in the small lake there. But after a volcano near this location was active, the temperature of this lake became to hot.
For lunch we stopped at Höfði, a very romantic place, with a good view to the Lake Mývatn. We went further to Dimmuborgir, from where we walked to Hverfjall, a bit crater. The view over the Lake Mývatn was impressive!
Our next stop was in the south of Lake Mývatn. The small hills in this area are small pseudo craters. After that we wanted to walk up Vindbelgjarfjall for seeing sunset. But because the time was running so fast, we decided to see it from the bottom – a good decision ?
Again we slept at the Camping place Hlíð near to lake Mývatn.
Camping in Mývatn
(Click on the picture to see the slideshow)

29. September 2016 

Our north Iceland experience: Rain

Today we finally realized that it rains often in Iceland. Two times we saw a small blue hole in the sky, but the rest of the day was cloudy and rainy.
Our first stop was in Húsavík, the capital of whale watching. From this place we first wanted to go to Ásbyrgi and then whale watching. But the weather was too bad for both and for whale watching the sea was too rough as well. Instead of that, we went to the next café and enjoyed the next two hours there. After that we drove to Goðafoss, another nice waterfall.
Our day ended in Ólafsfjörđur where we went to the local swimming pool (hot spring). The most time we spent in the middle of temperatures of 37-39°C.
The impressive fall of Goðafoss Goðafoss, the waterfall of the gods

30. September 2016 

Whale watching with fishing in Dalvík 

We took the second chance to realize our planned whale watching and went to the company Arctic Sea Tours in Dalvík. Before that, we went to the Olis for eating a pizza, drinking coffee, speaking and playing cards.
At one o`clock started our trip on the ship. After driving with the ship more to the middle of the fjord we saw three humpback whales – it was amazing! We watched them for more than half an hour before we drove back. On the way back, we tried fishing. It was impressive: Michi had not fished for more than a minute and already had a codfish. I also tried, but was not successful. But the other participants of this whale-watching trip caught a lot of fishes, so we had a delicious barbecue at the end of the trip.
After that we drove to the campsite in Blönduós.
Whale watching in North Iceland
(Click on the picture to see the slideshow)

1. October 2016 

Hiking in the wet grass between Blönduós and Hólmavík

Our day started with the drive to Hvitserkur. The last part of the road was (I would say) interesting. 🙂  There were a lot of bumps. Sometimes pretty much only bumps…Therefore our speed was slow, but the view of the stone formation in the ocean was great.
After driving back the same road, we headed to Hvammstangi where we visited a wool factory shop. From there we drove to a church of the same village, to first eat our lunch on a near shelter and then hike up a hill. The grass was mostly wet, but we were almost dry at the end.
After the hike we drove to Hólmavík. Here we went to the local swimming pool in which we took a bath at this time always 42° Celsius warm. Again it was beautiful to heat up the whole body, but it was not as necessary as the last time. It seems as if the north is warmer than the south. At the same place as the swimming pool, there was a camping site, where we cooked our dinner and stayed the night.
North Iceland roads Hvítserkur
Beautiful North Iceland There are waterfalls everywhere in Iceland

2. October 2016 

7 Fjords at Vestfirđir (Westfjord)

Now we drove to the Westfjords. On the road to our final goal of the day we passed 7 fjords. All of them were different and the views were beautiful, only the weather didn’t want to be perfect. So we spent most of the day in the car and enjoyed the view from there.
One time we stopped to see sea lions. And then in the 6th Fjord we had to wait together with other cars: the sheep wanted to cross the bridge ahead of us ?
When we arrived at Ísafjörđur, we first went to the Bonus-supermarket to buy fresh food. Afterwards we drove further to Bolungarvik, a small, very nicely located fishing village. The camping place there was not really special, so we decided to drive back. On the way back we again saw old houses, which have plants on their roofs.
But when we arrived at the camping site in Ísafjörđur, it was written: “Closed for the season” – the first time on our trip. So we had to drive further to Flateyri, where we stayed overnight.
The night was very windy and sometimes we thought that our car will fall tilting over. But we were lucky ?
The roads in the Westfjords
(Click on the picture to see the slideshow)

3. October 2016 

Through the Vestfirđir over the Breiđafjörđur to Snæfellsnes peninsula

On this day a strong wind woke us up. It was so strong that our camper van began to shake. After some minutes, we decided to get up and have breakfast. We then traveled from Flateyri to Þingeyri. On the way we had the chance to see the sun coming over the mountains – beautiful. From Þingeyri the road went further. First the road followed through the inland afterwards around a fjord lagoon to the waterfall Dynjandi. This waterfall is amazing: Over a height of 99 meter, the waterfall gets on the top from a width of 30 meters to bottom to 60 meters. The result is a beautiful, big waterfall out of many different small waterfalls.
From there we went further south, until we reached the south seaside of the Vestfirđir. We headed west along the coast to finally arrive in Rauðasandur. The view from the road was very nice. We went for a short hike near the sandbank. The wind was blowing again very strong but the sun came out several times.
After that, we went back to the coast street and then to Brjánslækur, where we took the ferry to leave the Vestfirđir and head to the Snæfelness peninsula. The ferry drove from Brjánslækur over Flatey (a small island) to Stykkishólmur, where we looked for a campground to stay overnight. Before we slept, we saw some small northern lights in the sky which was a nice finish of this day.
Camping in the Westfjords
(Click on the picture to see the slideshow)

4. October 2016 

Natural beauty of the Nationalpark Snæfellsjökull

The night was really windy again and the sky was grey in the morning. So we decided to wait a bit in the house of the camping site, which had toilets included and was heated. We enjoyed the night there and in the morning, there was a water cooker to make a coffee – just perfect. 😉  There was also a couple from Nova Scotia, Canada, which slept in a tent – they didn’t have a long night because in the morning, the wind crashed the tent, so they had to spent the rest of the night in the small house at the campsite. We spoke a bit with the couple until the weather got better.
After we drove further we first stopped at Olis to refuel our campervan. Then we started our drive around Snæfellsnes peninsula. The scenery was again impressive. There is one of the most famous mountains (Kirkjufell) in Iceland, whose stone layers show the history of earth.
From there we drove through Ólafsvik to the National park Snæfellsjökull. In the park the natural beauty was gorgeous. We found everything from beautiful beaches to a small isolated fishing village and incredible colors at very windy hills. But what we never saw was the Snæfellsjökull itself. He was always surrounded with clouds.
Our day ended in Lýsuhóll, where we found a camping site with a shower.
Snæfellsjökul peninsula, West Iceland
(Click on the picture to see the slideshow)

5. October 2016 

West Iceland

When we woke up, it was still windy, but less than the other days. After breakfast we went to the restaurant next to the campsite to plan our day and drinking hot coffee and tea. From two German women we got meat, cheese, bread and aluminum foil which they didn’t need anymore.
After that we drove to Hraunfossar. The water of these more than 100 waterfalls over a distance of approximately 700 meters comes from an underground river from the Langjökull. It comes out of the ground from a lower level of basalt stone. The view on these countless waterfalls was beautiful. At the same place is also the Barnafoss.
After that we drove back to Reykholt, where we stopped at a small, ancient hot pot named Snorralaug, Snorri’s bath.
Our day ended in Borgarnes near the water. Here it was windy and rainy again. We were really lucky that it was always dry, when we wanted to go out of the camper van and it only rains when we were in the car ?
Where to camp in West Iceland
(Click on the picture to see the slideshow)

6. October 2016 

Glýmur hike and horse riding

Since we didn’t have time yesterday, we started our day with the hike to Glýmur waterfall. But first we ate breakfast, paid the campsite fee, took a coffee from Olis and drove to the parking lot before starting our hike. At the parking lot we booked our horse riding tour for 2pm. Because the car drive takes 1.5 hours, we had only 1.5 hours left for both ways (to the waterfall and back). So we started really fast and jumped from one stone to the next, since the way was often covered with water. Then we had to pass a cave, and afterwards we had to take off our shoes to cross a river. There was a rope, which you can hold. The first part you walk on the stones and the second on a rod. Afterwards we ran the remaining distance and in the end we had a great view over the waterfall, before we went back the same way. That was really great.
Once we were back, we drove to Sólhestar in Ölfus. When we arrived at the location, a man just welcomed us and explained to us, what we should wear, as they had everything (shoes, gloves, helmet etc.). And as a positive surprise, he told us, that we were alone in a group! We went on a two hours tour. The weather was also good, as it was partly sunny, partly cloudy, but it never rained. So we prepared ourselves and then it already started: They helped us to climb on the back of our horses and we tried riding a bit in the barn. Afterwards we started our tour with a guide. At first we rode really slowly, but soon the guide asked us, if we want to speed up. Very quickly we said “Yes!”. At the end we also tried to gallop.
The two hours passed by very fast, so we were already back, drank coffee and tea and spoke to two Hungarian people, who went for a one hour ride after us. It was such a great experience riding on Icelandic horses ?
After a nap we drove north to Laugarvatn, but the campsite was closed for the season. Without any other choice we drove back to Borg, where there was a rope in front of the campsite. Here we had a great talk with a man who works in the baths, which is right next to the campsite. He loves the Icelandic stillness, but he also told us, that now the things change really fast in Iceland and he doesn’t know how long they can protect the stillness at many places.
At the end we found a campsite in Hveragerði.
The hike to Glýmur
(Click on the picture to see the slideshow)

7. October 2016 

Reykiavík, but where is Iceland?

Today is our last whole day in Iceland. So we started a bit melancholic in the day. Our amount of food was planned perfectly. We finished everything that we had left during our breakfast. After the dish washing we headed to Reykiavík.
On the way there it was very special, because we had never seen so many cars during the last two weeks. To find a parking lot was difficult, too, but finally we found one. So we started to explore Reykiavík.
First we visited the Hallgrímskirkja (a church), which looks like the building is made out of basalt stones. There were a loooot of tourists… Actually all around Reykiavík it had a lot of tourists.
So we walked through a small street and visited several stores. They have a lot of nice handcrafts. At the end of the street we headed right to walk to the Harpa, the opera and concert hall of Reykiavík. From here we walked through the harbor and visited the volcano house, where there was a small exhibition of volcanic stones. Our next stop was at the Sólfar (the sun voyager), a sculpture of Jón Gunnar Árnason. The time was running, so we walked fast to Perlan, a warm water reservoir, from where we had a great view over the city. After that we walked back to our car. For us, Reykiavík has only one thing common with the rest of Iceland: The wind.
Our camper we rented in KeflavikSo, we drove out of the city to Keflavik. At the “Kaffi Duus” we ate our lunch at 2.30pm. That was really great: Fish soup for starter, then fish, lamb and a lot of other delicious food from the buffet. 🙂
With full stomachs we drove to the Base Hotel, which was the final destination with our great camper van. So we had to take all our things out of the car and then a man came to fetch the car. We were a bit sad, because we had a really great time together with this perfect home on wheels. But everything has an end and we were really happy that everything worked out fine. 🙂
Now we are back in the civilization in a hotel room. We took a shower, ate a sandwich and muffin and went to bed early because the shuttle will come fetch us at 5.20am to drive to the airport.
How to drive in Reykjavik

8. October 2016 

Back to Switzerland – very relaxed

Our lovely camperThis day was out last day in Iceland. Our flight was quite early in the morning so we had to get up when it was still dark outside. A last look to the sky in the hope of seeing a last northern lights – but we only saw some stars. We will surely miss this view of the sky with these shining natural beauties.
We were picked up by a shuttlebus and went to the airport. After check-in and some breakfast, we finally sat in the airplane. in one way We felt very happy with these nice moments and experienced we got in the last two weeks, but also a little bit melancholic because we were leaving this nice country with its gorgeous nature. Iceland 

We have now traveled around Iceland for a bit longer than two weeks. Our experiences were great and we think a big plus was our own little home on wheels. So here some reasons, why we would do it that the same way again:
• You are flexible
• You have your own little home with you
• Iceland is always expensive, but traveling with a camper van and cooking your own food is a cheap version to explore Iceland
• Compared to camping with a tent, you are less exposed to the weather have a good price-performance ratio

Weird things about Iceland 

Iceland is a very special place. To us, there were several thing we found funny, curious, special or just not as we know it:
Ice cream: Iceland itself is cold. But the people seem to like it even colder. Everywhere you find ice cream. We often saw them near swimming-pools or also in small gas stations.
Roundabouts: When you drive in the area of Reykiavík, you can be sure, that after a roundabout, there will follow another roundabout.
Weather: The weather forecast is the same as the weather itself – really unstable and changes all the time.
Reykjavík: There seems to be more English speaking people than Icelandic speaking people.
Hákarl: That is an Icelandic specialty made of fermented shark. But we heard, this food is not really delicious. The people from Iceland mostly eat it, to show their strength to foreigners. After eating, they usually drink Brennivín to neutralize the taste.
Have a great trip!
Goodbye Iceland
Happy Camping!  #CamperStories

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