Ice island in a Camper Van
Ten years have passed since the summer of 2006 when we made our first round-trip to this unbelievable country called Iceland. It’s incredible how time flies!!!
On this new trip, we wanted to experience the land of elves and puffins in a more free and adventurous way. So we decided to rent a camper van. We knew from our previous trip that Iceland is a country totally prepared in terms of quality campsites with good facilities such as showers and toilets. So we did not hesitate. The decision was taken!!!
Seven days, travelling around an “ice island” in a camper van!! It sounded great! On the other hand, and to make a totally different journey, we decided to make the route the opposite way than that is usually recommended by guides: from north to the south.
So… let’s start!! Oh sorry, we were so excited about explaining our trip to you that we haven’t even introduced ourselves. We are Alex and Anna, a Spanish couple that love travelling, and Campy, an Icelandic Nissan campervan from the company Campervaniceland.
Here we go!
Reykjavik – Skagaströnd
After visiting the center of Reykjavik and eating some delicious salmon sandwiches at one of the restaurants in the port, we went to pick up our wheel-house for the next week. We were so excited – it was our first trip in a Campervan– that we didn’t even need to have coffee.
We arrived at 16.30 at the rental office where a very kind man showed us every part of the van and explained everything to us (how the heater worked, WiFi, Etc…). Ten minutes later we were leaving Reykjavik towards a town called Skagaströnd, in Húnaflóifjord, where we had decided to spend the night.
It took us almost 3 hours to arrive at the camping site but we enjoyed, watching the beautiful scenery and the sudden changes in temperature. Because, as Icelandic people say…”In Iceland everything could happen”.
We arrived at the campsite about 9 o’clock in the evening and we decided to have a drink outdoors, so we prepared the table and the camping chairs, with a few beers and snacks, and started to draw our route for the next day.
After having dinner and watching a bit of TV on our computer – thanks to the WiFi installed in the van – we went to sleep. The bed was very comfortable.
Skagaströnd – Kálfshamarsvík – Varmahlíð – Akureyri
We could start by saying that the sun rose in Skagaströnd. But the truth is that the sky never got dark; something very special that happens in the land of the midnight sun where there is no darkness approximately from mid- April until the end of August!
We left the camping site about 10 in the morning and drove to Kálfshamarsvík.
A former fishing village, now abandoned but that was populated in between the end of the 19th century and mid-20th. In those days, this coastal village had 30 houses, but today there is nothing left. Instead there is a nice lighthouse, surrounded by beautiful walls of basalt columns.
A magical place, but it’s hard to understand how people could live there. We walked around and read the plates indicating the houses that once existed there. The truth is that it was difficult to leave behind this nice town, there is something that attracts to you to this magical place.
After taking the last panoramic pictures, we headed to Akureyri, the second biggest urban area in Iceland. Before reaching Varmahlíð, where we had lunch, we found the beautiful church Víðimýrarkirkja, with a moss covered roof. It is one of the few remaining on the island. We took some pictures, and moved on to Varmahlið were we tried the Pylsa, the Icelandic hot dog. It’s was really nice! After that we drove to Akureyri.
The road leaves us on the left some big mountains with beautiful waterfalls; indescribable. We arrived at Akureyri at about 6pm. We parked the van and walked to the house-museum of Matthías Jochumson – poet and creator of the national anthem of Iceland–, the spectacular cathedral and ended up in the middle of the town, surrounded by eclectic building styles, a lot of arts and crafts galleries and shops, and streets winding their way through gorges.
After buying some souvenirs, where we found a street concert. We didn’t know who was singing but we liked it. So we had a small drink and joined in. After an hour, we decided to leave this beautiful city and head to Laugur, the town where we decided to sleep.
On the way, we stopped at Goðafoss, the waterfall of the gods and one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. And the truth is that the water of the river Skjálfandafljót falls from a height of 12 meters over a width of 30 meters! Wow!
It was very cold outside the campervan, but it was well worthwhile watching this jewel of nature!!
Half an hour later, we reached the campsite in Laugur, where we dined in the kitchen some soup, and went to sleep. Tomorrow would be another day.
Read more: Waterfalls in Iceland
Lake Mývatn – Dimmuborgir – Kverfjall – Grjótagjá – Viti
When we woke up there was no one left at the campsite. We were so comfortable sleeping inside Campy. We packed our things and headed to Lake Mývatn, a shallow eutrophic lake situated in an area of volcanic activity in the north of Iceland, not far from Hverfjall volcano. We decided to go around to the south. And we stopped in different points to get different views and pictures.
The first natural attraction we found was Dimmuborgir, volcanic rock formations that look like huge castles made of wet sand from the beach. As if some giant had fun making them. Strange caves and holes in the rocks make it more charming. According to the legend, Jólasveinar (a kind of Christmas elves) live there, although at this time of year they are sleeping inside the caves.
After watching this amazing scenario we drove to the stunning black Hverfjall mountain volcano. We left Campy in the parking lot, and started climbing. A slow but steady walk. It took about 15 or 20 minutes to climb. Upstairs, inside the crater, the view was imposing. On the other side, views were the same or better. Awesome. We couldn’t stop taking pictures…
After that nice experience we drove to Grjótagjá, a cave formed into a crevasse, created by the Kverfjall volcano and filled with hot water. The cave was a very popular place for bathing until Kverfjall activity caused the temperature to rise to almost 80 degrees. Now temperature is back to under 40 degrees, like an Icelandic swimming pool! It’s very nice, and a pity we can’t bathe inside.
After having a pizza in a small restaurant close to it, we drove to the volcanic crater of Hverarönd. Small lakes of boiling gray mud bubbles, and columns of smoke very smelly are coming every minute. A spectacular exhibition of the force of the earth.
From there we headed north toward Ásbyrgi. We passed an energy station, and followed the sign Krafla, another volcano, which is on the right. We parked Campy there and climbed a small hill that leads to a truly breathtaking view over the lake Víti, which is inside the volcano itself, a turquoise blue. One of our favorite places, without any doubt. We decided to walk surrounding the volcano, an easy walk of about 15 minutes. Incredible.
After this busy day, our legs and also “campy’s” demand a bit of rest, so we drove to Dettifoss Guesthouse, near Ásbyrgi. A small campsite, with nobody but us. We prepared a salad of tomato and mozzarella, we had a few beers… And to bed!! As Phil Collins would once sing, Another day in paradise!!! Goodnight!
Ásbyrgi – Dettifoss – Egilsstaðir – Seyðisfjörður
This morning we started visiting Ásbyrgi, located just 10 km from our campsite. But not before saying goodbye to what we consider the best of the campsites where we have stayed in the whole world.
Ásbyrgi is a rock formation, shaped like a horseshoe. Legend says that the place was formed when Ódinn’s horse stepped on the ground with one of its eight legs. The geological origin is still a source of disputes. A glacier, or the sea are the most popular tales.
We wandered around the area, overlooking lakes, large rock walls and lots of birds that live there. A natural paradise. From there we decided to drive our way to Dettifoss destination. We took the road that goes down just the opposite side of the river that runs Glacier Jökulsárlón.
After a few kilometers, we saw a red mountain in the background. The next view was a nice waterfall. After Dettifoss, the mightiest waterfall in Europe, there are his two sisters, Selfoss and Hafragilsfoss. We stopped in the latter. The view was beautiful on its 360 degrees. A very pretty waterfall down, which follows the canyon created by the river, surrounded by reddish volcanic rock.
A little further we found Dettifoss, an impressive waterfall, not for its beauty, but for its strength. Many tourists try to get the best shot, even putting their lives at risk to get too close. Instagram’s fault!!!
After this feast of nature, we drove to Seyðisfjörður, where we would sleep before starting the route of the eastern fjords of the island.
Along the way, we passed through Egilsstaðir, where we did a bit of shopping and Campy drunk gasoline to recharge. Also we took the opportunity to swim in the village pool and relax. Then we drove to our campsite. The ride there was incredibly beautiful, surrounded by snowed mountains and waterfalls, and finally a superb seaside village.
That day we decided to go out for dinner and opted for the Kaffi Lára / El Grillo Bar. They had five dishes. Anna opted for the ‘fish of the day ‘. Delicious. Alex asked for the lamb; also spectacular. After going for a small walk over the town, and talking some pictures it was time for rest. Góða nótt!
Seyðisfjörður – Stöðvarfjörður- Breiðdalsvík – Djúpivogur
After having breakfast in the kitchen of the campsite, we drove towards the eastern fjords. To do this, we had to go back to Egilsstaðir and from there, we started driving down toward Reyðarfjörður and turn left to Eskifjörður. Then we continued down the south side of Reyðarfjörður. We didn’t meet any cars on the whole ride. We were completely alone and we loved this feeling. In our city, Barcelona, this doesn’t happen often!!!
In the distance, we could see the end of the peninsula. There is a very nice orange lighthouse presiding it. We also saw the ferry from Seyðisfjörður that is surely bound for Denmark. We decided to stop to see it, and eat something. It was our first sunny day since we arrived in Iceland. Upon reaching the lighthouse, we saw that the road is closed.
‘Private property’. What a pity. Just across on the mountainside, we saw an open space guarded by some sheep. It was our opportunity to set, for the first time, the table and camping chairs and eat outside, enjoying the sun.
With the stomach full we set off. We stopped several times in several coastal towns to take some pictures. Stöðvarfjörður, Breiðdalsvík… All very recommendable. Along the way we saw hundreds of sheep more next to the road, and even a couple of reindeer. After a half an hour of driving we stopped at another lighthouse that we found on our way and just sat to watch the sea.
At about 7 o’clock we were near Djúpivogur, where we planned on stopping to sleep. We found a nice campsite. There we had a beer in the bar, and checked some emails and continued planning what to visit the next day.
Although what we prefer about travelling by van is the freedom that you have to change plans anytime you deserve it. Your hotel goes with you.
More adventures, tomorrow!!
Skaftafell – Svartifoss – Vik – Dyrhólaey – Skógafoss
After having breakfast in the kitchen of the camping site we packed our things and followed the national 1, the road that we have followed for most of the time on the island. In a short time, we reach the National Park Skaftafell. Our first stop will be Svartifoss, 2 kilometers walking, but we know it will be worth it. Soon we get there. Lots of people are trying to get the best place for the photo and patiently we wait for our turn.
This waterfall is one of our favorites of the country. After watching it, we return and about 300 meters from the waterfall, we see a sign that says ‘ Sjórnarnipa ‘ 2.3 kilometers. We do not hesitate and go towards there.
A half hour walk later we arrive at one of the best views of the glacier. You can see and unparalleled view of the glacier tongues coming together in one, coming from the top of the glacier to the valley. Breathtaking, as English people would say.
After spending the morning in Skaftafell we prepared some nice sandwiches at the van, and started driving to Vik, on the southern tip of Iceland.
On the way we pass a small village called Kirkjubæjarklaustur that has a swimming pool. Although temperature is rather low and it’s raining, we want to have a bath in a hot pot! We love the sensation!! We spend about one hour there, planning our next steps in Iceland. After that, we drove to Vík where we visited the black sand beach, and also this small coaster town.
We had dinner in a nice restaurant, called Suður Vík, located on the top of the village. One of the best things of travelling to Iceland during the summer is that it never gets dark, so you can visit places until you are exhausted, so after dinner, we decided to have another walk with campy.
This time to Dýrhólaey, a very famous beach that presents rocks formations jutting out of the sea. When we got there, there were only a few people. We parked Campy and climbed some rocks that give us a great view of the rock formations and the entire beach. After resting a bit and taking some pictures, we decide to drive to Skógafoss, where we will sleep in the camping with an astonishing front row view on the waterfall. Goodnight to everyone!!
Skógafoss – Seljalandsfoss, – Geysir – Gullfoss – Thingvellir
Today it’s our last day in our camper van, and the last one of the round trip. So we don’t have time to waste. We wake up in Skógafoss, with an incredible image of the waterfall when we open the door of the van. We will truly miss these kind of sunrises.
We have some breakfast and take some pictures before driving to Seljalandsfoss, 25 kilometers away. Seljalandsfoss is our favorite waterfall of the country and we can’t miss it.
After parking Campy we follow the path around the waterfall and that delves into the cave, passing behind it. It’s a unique feeling. The noise of the waterfall hitting the water sounds like a plane landing. We enjoyed the view, and as good tourists, we took some pictures.
After that, we set off to the Golden Circle, a must stop in Iceland.
First we visited Geysir, with water jets out of the water and sudden jets, and then Gullfoss, the largest waterfall on the island.
Finally we make the last stop at Þingvellir, Iceland’s first parliament and if I’m not mistaken, the first in the world? Our journey ends here. If we had to decide what was the best part for us, Anna would say the walk around Viti volcano, and Alex probably would say the sound of Seljalandsfoss. And, also, our adventures in the van!
Campy we will miss you!!!
Read more: 6 lessons learned travelling in Iceland
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