Iceland on 3 days
-How does one see as much of Iceland as possible in only 3 days? By camper van, of course!
Reykjavik 05:00: We had just arrived in Iceland, exhausted from an overnight flight from the U.S. Lucky for us, we chose to ride in style and comfort while exploring Iceland in our amazing camper van through Campervan Iceland. We drove for a bit and then pulled over for our first of many snuggly naps in the van. We awoke after having battled our jet lag, energized to head to the first (of many!) spectacular waterfalls along the southern coast of Iceland.
Our first major falls was Seljalandsfoss. We excitedly circled around the whole waterfall, as a path led back behind the falls itself. When we came out on the other side after circling the falls, a brilliant rainbow appeared through the sunny mist!
They always say it is difficult to capture such a vision of the real-life beauty of nature on camera, and it was so true especially in the vast natural landscapes and features of Iceland. Hopefully these photos give the smallest glimpse into the wonder of this place! Our next waterfall was Skógafoss.
We climbed up the side steps to get to the top and then continued to follow the path which followed the river. Every turn revealed more and more waterfalls, some small, some wide, each unique and incredibly beautiful. We would have hiked all night along the river if we did not finally decide to stop and turn around to head to our campsite nearby in Vik. We cooked a nice simple spaghetti meal with the camp stove and cookware included in the van. Then a glorious night of sleep after our first day of adventuring!
Read more: Popular destinations in Iceland
Black Sand Beaches
Following our first day filled with waterfalls, we left the Vik campground early the next morning to head to the black sand beaches nearby. What a magnificent place! Each viewpoint we came upon had us whispering, “Well, I could stay here all day!” It was so peaceful taking in the scenery of each new landscape, and the beach did not disappoint. We watched the wild and powerful waves crashing on the rocks and black sand, again and again, mesmerizing us as we stood silently watching.
We watched seals pop their heads above the waves and then disappear again. They continued to return, seeming to stare right into our eyes from the waves below. We turned our attention then to the gorgeous cliffs on the other end of the beach. We saw the multitude of seagulls and other birds swarming through the air. It was not until further study that we realized that a large group of the black birds flying and swooping above the waves were puffins!
We drew closer to the cliff-side, hoping to see one close up. I especially wanted to see one of these beautiful birds and kept urging them to fly close to us! None came close enough to view, but we continued to wait and wish, seeing them continuously land and dive from cliff to water and back.
As we turned to leave the area, having given up on seeing an up-close puffin, a little brightly beaked bird walked out of a hidden nest on the cliff-side directly next to us. I was within about 6 feet from the puffin, the closest person in his vicinity. I held my breath and willed the bird to stay there just a moment longer and not to fly away too quickly! The puffin remained there on the cliff-side for a number of minutes, just surveying the area, showing off his bright beak, and at times flapping his wings.
It was a magical moment, one of the most memorable of our trip. We felt like the puffin materialized from out of thin air. From that point on, I was dubbed “the Puffin Whisperer,” a title I proudly bore!
We stopped by the other black sand beaches, giant rock formations, and caves nearby and spent more time just taking in the scenery on the beach. We watched the waves roaring in, often catching people off guard and getting their feet wet! We also watched the multitude of birds and people on this beach. It was another truly amazing place to spend an afternoon.
We next stopped by a glacial area (Sólheimajökull). We read about how much of this particular area had melted away in just the past decade, a sobering warning of the planet warming and changing our world as we know it. It was difficult to know that this area will not look the same if we return after a number of years, as more melting is in store. We felt fortunate to have seen this haunting landscape as it is today.
Read more: Camping in Iceland
Geysir & Gullfoss
That evening we stopped by the Geysir geothermal field with its sky blue springs and spouting geysers, which we viewed around 22:00 since there was still light in the sky! It was a peaceful end to our day before we headed off to sleep again in the camper van, this time parking in the lot near the Gullfoss waterfall which we would greet the next morning.
We awoke early and found that we were the only people at Gullfoss. The parking area was above the actual falls, so we walked over to the edge and were greeted by one of the most breathtaking waterfalls we have ever seen:
We took our time strolling around the viewing area of the falls, taking everything in. There were layers upon layers of different falls, each powerful and beautiful all at once. We happily experienced the falls from a safe distance while silently hoping that some of the other tourists who had arrived (and who were climbing over the railings to get better photos) lived to see another day!
Following the glory of the early morning waterfall adventure, we headed back toward a particular hike that Nick had been reading about. Glýmur is Iceland’s tallest waterfall, and we were ready to see it! As avid hikers who recently spent several years in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, we were looking forward to this experience! We felt as if the trail was an outdoor playground, with ropes up the steep cliff sides, a steep downhill ladder in the rocks, a river crossing over a beam, and more! We ended up near the thin ribbony falls of Glymur with its gorgeous mossy green cliff sides:
High up near the falls, we met a woman who was waiting for the rest of her group to return. She offered to take our picture in front of the falls and asked us where we were from. We told her that we were from St. Louis, Missouri in the USA and coincidentally she reported that she had lived in practically the same neighborhood in St. Louis as us!
Before we knew it, we had talked away a full hour with her about our lives back home and our travels in Iceland until her crew returned. We live in a small, small world, don’t we? She advised us to check out the large camp ground called the Reykjavik Campsite.
We decided to go there to take our first true shower on our trip to Iceland, as we would be getting on a plane the next day to meet our friends in the United Kingdom. The campsite was perfect, clean and modern with HOT showers that melted away all the dirt and sweat of the past few days of adventure!
Our time in Iceland was short due to other plans for our friend’s wedding in England, but we packed a lot of fun and adventure into our 3 days! We still cannot believe we made it to Iceland after hearing stories from other family and friends who had made the journey. We are so happy we made the trip, and are incredibly pleased with our decision to use Campervan Iceland. It truly felt like our own cozy home base in a foreign land. Thank you for helping make our journey so practical, comfortable, and memorable! We hope to be back again someday!
-Mary & Nick H.
Read more: Mr C’s family trip to Iceland 2016
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