‘Iceland, nice place but the Wi-Fi is shocking here‘.
The first time in my life I’d happily pronounce this.
The signal here may have been weak but adventure in Iceland was rich and abundant.
The further we traveled into the deep terrain of Iceland’s wilderness the more remote and disconnected we became from our normal lives back home.
Using an actual fold-out map that we got from Reykjavik’s tourist info centre was a novelty in itself and quickly became our bible during our 10-day trip around what we think has been our BEST COUNTRY YET!!!
We flew into Reykjavik airport and picked up our wheels/home for the next week. This was in the form of a campervan
from Rent.is – we decided to go for one after having read up that it was the best and only way we should see this glorious country.
Our trusty map with our 10 day adventure routed out.
In fact, besides accommodation – restaurants, food, water, fuel, people and other supplies are pretty scarce which is why you need to load up on when you can. We discovered BÓNUS, which was a supermarket chain. We stocked up in Reykjavik, which we highly recommend as the further along ring road you get, the smaller the towns and shops get.
Our very trusty camper (and our video)
For that week we survived on pasta, hot dogs, cheese sandwiches, cereal and hot chocolates (with some Bailey’s). Our campervan was fully equipped with fridge, USB charging ports, a heating system even its own Wi-Fi.
We discovered pretty quickly that the campervan is really the way to go, with plenty of designated camp spots for travellers the whole way along our route. The beauty of ‘vanning it’ was that we could get away with just pulling over whenever we wanted for the night and wake up to magical views of snow-capped mountains, sandy ‘black’ beaches, lush green hillsides.
Going along the famous ‘Ring Road
’, which connects Iceland starting in Reykjavik in the country’s south-west and picked up on the route heading east along the southern parts of the country.
The Ring Road connects onto the Golden Circle
which is where most tourists go along for a day or short tours to some of the most iconic parts of Iceland.
The Ring Road is used as a guideline for campers or ‘vampers’ wanting to pack as much into their Iceland trip as possible. All up the route is about 1332km but we stress to only let it be a guideline as most of the real action is off the ‘beaten track’.
Iceland’s south is considered by most as the ‘beautiful’ part of the island, much like New Zealand’s South Island compare’s to its northern brother.
Here are a few of our Iceland south must dos:
Blue Lagoon – One of the 25 wonders of the world and only a 20km drive from Reykjavik. At £45 each it’s something you can’t leave off the itinerary when you get here.
A tip: take your own towel, otherwise you will need to rent a rather expensive one!
It’s -3 degrees outside but a toasty 38 degrees in the luscious waters of the Blue Lagoon.
Geysir – Our first taste of an erupting volcano and sulphur. It goes off every 8-10 minutes and can spray water as high as 20m in the air.
Gullfoss – the coldest place in Iceland. We actually got a little bit frost burnt as we went up to check out this waterfall. The ice spray that was coming off the falls actually smashed our faces. It is worth a look though.
The expression on Hutch’s face says it all!
– Glacial lagoon
with some of the most iconic stopping points for travellers. Diamond Beach is found here with sharp, clear crystal-like ice washed up on the black sand shores
. I definite visit for anyone to Iceland.
Diamond Beach – For an Australian, this is a surreal experience. Picture a black beach with foamy blue water and then add massive chunks of ice washed ashore. If it’s a sunny day they really do sparkle like big diamonds. We were lucky enough to see some seals diving around!
The sparkling burgs of Diamond Beach
Vik – A quiet little southern Iceland town on the Ring Road route. Be sure to visit its church which overlooks the amazing black sandy beaches. The drive into the township from the west has you driving through some absolutely spectacular snowy mountains.
Overlooking the breathtaking views of Vik.
Skógafoss – This is a main waterfall attraction on the Ring Road and you’re bound to likely be fighting with other tourists to capture the perfect photo opportunity. Still a worthy place to stop off and admire the sheer furiousness of nature at work.
A tip: try and leave your visit here to the end of a day as you can camp here for free and wake up to the waterfall and beat the tourists the next day!
Gluggafoss – We happened to find this waterfall off the main Ring Road by making an accidental wrong turn, but it was worth it! We had the place to ourselves and could walk right around the back of the falls. A massive thumbs up from us.
Seljalandsfoss – All we say is be prepared to get wet!
No choice but to get wet through our walk behind Seljalandsfoss.
For us, it was all about having those wide open spaces in-between each stop-over. There were often times we thought we had Iceland all to ourselves. The freedom to roam. The luxury of being able to stop anywhere we wanted along the way and (excuse my Australian) pull up stumps.
One of the many ‘wrong turns’ we took.
As we continued our journey moving along the eastern side of Iceland we became more along on the road, as the occasional car driving past us disappeared completely.
Höfn – Another small fishing town that served up the greatest lobster burger known to man. Make sure you go to the docks and locate a little diner shack to sample some!
He still has dreams about that Lobster Burger.
Seyðisfjörður – a small village at the most eastern point of Iceland, you need to negotiate past the ski fields to get over the mountains and into the valley where the town is situated. Make sure you stop up the top and soak in the stunning view! The drive from Höfn to here was probably the most scenic part of the entire journey. One minute we would be driving past fields, the next feet of snow and valleys of water – we couldn’t stop getting out of the car to look and play!
One of our many snowball fight stops.
The Eastern parts of Iceland was where we truly found ourselves free in our campervan.
And what an indulgence it was. For the first time in a long time, we weren’t crammed into a tiny London apartment, sharing walls with strangers.
We weren’t waking up in the dark go to work on the tube into the city for a 9-7pm daily job to then go home in the dark relenting cold. It’s hard to explain but Iceland was a good type of cold.
Looking back on the trip people ask me what was the most memorable parts. For me it was the untamed white wastelands of the north.
Dettifoss – Be prepared to get your hiking boots and walk through some thick layers of snow to get a glimpse of this majestic waterfall. The drive is perilously slippery but again another worthwhile trip off the Ring Road.
Mývatn – A great lookout over the over the northern region township.
Skipping out to the mountains of Mývatn
Hauganes – A top spot for campervans. We camped right on the lake here and woke up to a stunning view of snow-capped mountains as our morning view.
By far the best view we have ever woken up to.
Ólafsvik – The most western point for us in Iceland, this was the last time we saw the black sandy beaches, and again, we had the long stretches of beaches and roads to ourselves.
Deserted black beaches of Ólafsvik
Borgarnes – Bigger town where we stocked up on some supplies and actually had the luxury of drinking a coffee.
Þingvellir National Park
was difficult to get to but worth going through to see some incredible landmarks. Be wary that you can’t camp here unless you pay to stay at a designated spot in the park. As this is part of the Golden circle, you will also encounter the crowds!
Even with the crowds of the golden circle, the waterfalls and views were spectacular.
One of the most important things we wanted to do in Iceland was playing with huskies.
We luckily got the chance to do this when we participated in dry dogsledding at Hólmasel.
Dry dogsledding is generally a ‘summer’ alternative when there isn’t enough snow for the sleigh and you instead are pulled around on a trailer by the dogs.
After the expedition, you can go pat and cuddle all of the 70-odd pups at the ranch. We fell in love with a Siberian husky called Aurora.
Our buddies Chewbacca and Aurora after a big morning of sledding.
The night before this we stayed in a deserted camping ground
which overlooked Lake Villingaholt. This was the only place we got the slightness look at the famous Northern Lights. We recommend downloading an app that can give you an exact percentage of how likely you can see the lights at any given time based on your location.
In the end, we were sad to arrive back to Rent.is to return our 10-day home and slowly be taken back to reality.
I remember feeling like I was waking up from a dream during that flight home to London.
People will never understand what Iceland is. You can tell them. You can write about it. You can show them hundreds of photos. But they will never understand.
So I guess a final word is that Iceland is harsh, the environment is cold and conditions can be unforgiving. It is in this that is probably the reason why it has made such an impression on us. Despite this, we were able to find moments of pure splendour that can’t be found anywhere else in the world, or that we are ever to come across again.
For me personally, Iceland altered my perception in a time of confusion back in London. I was beginning to really question whether I had had enough of all this and was ready to pack it in and go back home to Australia.
Iceland reminded me of my purpose. Of our purpose of seeing the world and having new experiences. Why we had set out to do this in the first place. To experience new places. Conquer unspoilt lands and to expand our view of the world.
It’s sad that hardly anyone back home will ever get the chance to see Iceland as it truly is the most magical place on earth!
Happy Camping! #CamperStories
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