Iceland: A must see for every Adventurer
Ultimate freedom, we’ve experienced it before when we rented a camper van in New Zealand two years ago. Never needing to be on time anywhere, travelling to wherever you want and always a cozy place to sleep. We, Luuk and Carlijn, two 27-year-old travelers from Amsterdam, have been waiting for the next opportunity to rent a camper van ever since. And then we thought of Iceland. Yes, cliché: the land of fire and ice. But also, the land of impressive nature, good roads, enough campsites and thus a perfect place to travel around in a mobile motor-home.
Last March we emptied our savings account and rented a camper van for thirteen days with Rent.is. The Renault Trafic 3 would be ours for the two last weeks of September 2017 and we couldn’t wait to travel to the country we heard so many exhilarating stories about. We bought warm clothes, stuffed our backpacks with food (always a good idea when the food in the country you’re going to is super expensive) and took off to Iceland. Maybe a little stupid, but we foremost thought about the cold when we packed our clothes. We forgot a little about the rain. And we even come from The Netherlands, a country where it rains a lot! Oops. But thank God, we chose a camper van with a table inside, so on rainy days we could eat inside. With the little heater on it was perfect. And even though we went outside most of the time, sometimes we only took pictures from the car when we didn’t feel like getting wet. We know, shame on us! But it was very convenient.
Since we almost had two weeks we decided to do the whole round trip via the Ring Road, with some detours. Starting with the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. A must see for everyone with a little more time on their hands. On the second night of our trip, after visiting Reykjavík, we saw a beautiful sunset on our way there (see picture). On this peninsula, you can also walk the beautiful coast between Arnarstapi and Hellnar. We also drove here to see the Kirkjufell mountain. It’s the most photographed mountain in Iceland and had been Luuk’s background on his iPhone for a long time. Not so weird that he’d gotten a little obsessed with it, so we shot a lot of pictures here. Thanks to the sun that was shining brightly they turned out great. So we’ll have a new background on our phones and laptops when we return home.
We figured out soon enough that we had to enjoy the not rainy days to the fullest. So we tried to do as many activities when the weather was good, to have some time to take shelter in our van on the rainy days. On one of our first nights we also could cross off a major item on both our bucket lists: the Aurora Borealis! In the twelve nights we slept in Iceland we saw the Northern Lights on three of them. Lucky bastards we were! It was absolutely amazing and on the third night we even managed to take pictures of it. We have to admit, they’re a little blurry, but hey, you can sort of see what we saw! It was amazing and gave us goose bumps all over. Now we finally know what all the fuzz was about.
After Snæfellsnes we drove further North. In hindsight it might have been better to drove the same way back and then continue upwards on the Ring Road, like Google Maps advised, because now we had to travel on a bumpy gravel road for more than an hour. Oh, those potholes made our heart skip a beat a couple of times. But now we can finally say: we made it safe and sound and our van too. But for other travelers: maybe choose the main road to travel North. When in North Iceland, you should really visit Siglufjörður, not for the town itself – though it’s a lovely small fishing village – but for their fish and chips. 1890 krónur will buy you the best fish and chips in the world. Really. Trust us.
When you’re doing the whole round around the Island, don’t forget to visit the lovely town of Húsavík. We did a marvelous whale watching tour with North Sailing (the number 1 on TripAdvisor). Go for a trip on their ‘green’ boat: a quiet (no noise pollution!) and electrical one. Better for you and for the environment. We saw humpback whales and took some great pictures of their flukes. Did you know that the fluke of every humpback whale has a different pattern? Just like our finger prints. That’s how researchers recognize different whales. It’s just one of the many things we learned about these magnificent creatures.
Next on our list was Mývatn: a beautiful lake with lots of attractions to visit surrounding it. If you want to spend way less money but still want to enjoy a nature bath: don’t go to the Blue Lagoon but visit the nature baths here. But no worries, if sitting in a warm bath doesn’t sound inviting to you, there’s is more than enough other things to do and see around Mývatn. We spend two days here.
What we really loved about Iceland is that a lot of the nature is right next to the roads you travel. At some places you can drive right up to the glacier, waterfall or other sightseeing spot. Amazing, right? At a lot of times driving around Iceland felt like driving through a nature or entertainment park. Everything is just so beautiful. Every day we spend here we had a ‘wow-moment’. The scenery surprised us again and again. That’s why we advise everyone to sometime get off the beaten track and drive a detour from the Ring Road. You’ll be amazed by what you’ll encounter.
If you have to pick a time to travel to Iceland, we would definitely recommend September. The big crowds are gone, most of the facilities like the camping grounds are still open and the weather is okay most of the times. Also you have the chance to see the Northern Lights like we did! One of the few disadvantages is that the cute puffins (birds) are gone to warmer places. But at least you can take a picture with huge statues of them at some places next to the road.
After a week we arrived in the East of Iceland, again a beautiful part of the country that never bored us. The show stoppers here are the glaciers: this is where you see true nature. Too bad they’re shrinking every year due to the warming of the earth. When we drove from Höfn to Vík we later found out that we had been very lucky. We were one of the last cars to be able drive the Ring Road before it flooded for a couple of days. It had been raining for a long time and a lot of rivers were overflown. Lucky for us we chose to travel the Ring Road clockwise (a good idea in September, because the South is a little warmer). But we felt sorry for the tourists that couldn’t continue their journey North.
The end of our journey became closer and closer, but we saved the best for last. On the day before we flew back to Amsterdam we did the Golden Circle: the impressive Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir and the Þingvellir National Park. What an amazing way to spend our last ours in this beautiful country. While writing this we’re in the plane back home and we already miss Iceland. We know for sure that we will advise everyone with a sense for adventure to jump on a plane, rent a camper van and explore this wonderful country. After all it’s only less than three hours to fly there from Amsterdam! Of course we will also tell them to bring their warm clothes and rain coats.
Takk, Iceland! We might visit you again in the future!
Luuk & Carlijn
Read more: A Stormy honeymoon in Iceland
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