Iceland described in a four words by two streaking Canadians:
Visiting Iceland via a camper van, thus having our home on wheels, was both cost effective, cool, and provided us unlimited mobility throughout the trip; no need to plan accommodations whatsoever. Our kangaroo camper (who we affectionately named Chloe) was as reliable as she was comfortable – highly recommended.
Four furious days of unplanned adventures with only partially formed ideas in our minds lead to an unforgettable time in the Land of Ice. As a pre-trip to do, I highly suggest readers watch ‘The secret life of Walter Mitty” which accentuates the raw beauty of Iceland (and the soundtrack is amazing too)!
Let’s get right to it, and we will offer our advice at the end of the post.
George and Peach from Canada
Day 1 – The flight– The Golden Circle
We flew over on Wow Air from Montreal, Canada and paid $250 for a round trip flight, what a deal! The plane had many free seats on it, and considering it was a 5hr flight through the night, most people slept (which made it easy for us to check the mile high club off of our list). Landing in Iceland at 0430 in the morning means the country is just beginning to wake as double rainbows scatter the sky like skittles (we counted 11 rainbows on our first day in Iceland – 2 of which were full sky coverage DOUBLE RAINBOWS).
The beautiful statue of the rainbow at Keflavik Airport lined up perfectly with the pained sky in the backdrop, and was our first good omen for the trip. Unfortunately we didn’t have our rental camper
booked until noon, so killing time in the airport got old quickly. We took a cab for 5km to the coastal town of Keflavik (which cost 30 CAD$!) and had a chilly stroll around in the morning fog while the sleepy town stretched and prepared for the blustery fall day. As soon as we picked up Chloe, we hit the road for Bónus Grocery store and gathered groceries for the following four days.
Chloe patiently posing for a shot on near the Nesjavellir Geothermal Plant
Driving past downtown Reykjavik, it was immediately apparent that Iceland is a country that prides itself on being minimalistic and economic in nature. There are no excessive or outlandish allotments of space or engineering. Everything has its purpose, and its place. The square and cubic structures are nestled neatly and economically beside each other, while the roads are only one lane. Trucks are far and few between, pray for the monsters that roam into the mountain passes carrying tourist to the depths of the volcanic ruins. We first drove north to complete the Golden Circle
, and were in awe at our first stop in Þingvellir National park where the tectonic plates are slowly tearing the earth apart at a rate of 2cm per year!
Scouting the waters in Þingvellir National park, looks deep enough!
Here, the tectonic plates are pulled apart 2cm a year.
We continued northeast through the fog and mist to the tip of the Golden Circle, where the one lane highway stitched its way thought the mountain passes with volcanic giants propelled skywards on each shoulder, peppered with green and yellow vegetation. Sheep scattered the slopes like salt and were never phased by passers-by trying to capture a selfie. We arrived at the powerful Gullfoss waterfalls and Strokkur Geysir close to nightfall. The 3rd largest geyser in the world erupts every 8-10 minutes was so we were guaranteed multiple shows. We camped here for the evening with aim to continue East through the park the next morning.
Strokkur Geysir about to erupt
Waking up early, we boiled some water for coffee on the convenient camp stove stowed away underneath our comfy bed and hit the road. We drove on a lonely highway surrounded by sheep for a few hours, and skinny dipped along the way in one of the many pristine rivers that cross the highway. We hit the base of Landmannalaugar, where we were told that rental vehicles were not permitted to drive on gravel road to the natural hot springs and hostel 40km into the wild.
Determined to take a dip in the mountain hot tub, we luckily met some friendly German travelers with whom we hitched a ride, taking some incredible shots along the way! The bumpy drive along this lunar landscape kept us in awe for hours as the foreign land was living up to its legendary beauty at every turn. Upon arrival to the hostel, we made our way to the natural hot springs, which were fed by boiling water bubbling up from the earth’s core. Sharing a bottle of wine in a natural hot spring in the mountains of Iceland – check! After dinner in the warm hostel with adventurous souls from around the globe, we settled in the cocoon of this unique long hostel bed, determined to take on the mountains at sunrise.
Natural Hot Springs in Landmannalaugar, serene, quiet, and steamy!
We slept through a rain storm but were unphased by the nightly showers, as the hostel’s heater kept us cozy throughout the night. We awoke to fog, but as soon as we began to hike, the sun snuck from behind the clouds and began it’s morning ritual. The glowing yellow rays that magically draw our eyes to the sky. Light gathering steam like a locomotive, bending around the mountaintops in visual free-fall, shattering the clouds and opening the horizons to our eyes delight. The colors of the mountains painted our gaze with red, orange, and green and blue, while the mountain lakes sat calm and strong in crevasses only known to those atop the ridge. The hills exhaled steam in natural pillars as heat from the earths core rose, and dissipated, juxtaposed against the glaciers in the distant. The land of fire and ice has earned its reputation in this very moment, the two elements colliding in style.
Hiking in Landmannalaugar, where the landscape looks painted with the brush of the universe
After packing up and equally enjoying a bumpy drive back to Chloe, we hit the winding road again and made out way to the coast for our drive to Reykjavik. The small ocean towns are back dropped by the powerful sea and volcanic rock, two incredible forces in balance. Arriving downtown, we decided to indulge on some local beer and cuisine, only to find out that the best (and most cost effective) food in town are in fact the local hot dog stands! Until you have scoffed down an Icelandic dog with deep fried onions and peanut sauce, you have not experienced Iceland as you should. A fun night on the town included drinks at the Irish Rabbit, Björn Pub, the Micro Bar, and ended with some live music at the Danish Pub. Downtown Reykjavik is vibrant and lively, although rampant with tourists from around the globe, with exorbitant prices steering all establishments.
Downtown Reykyavik and its walking streets
We awoke early in Chloe’s belly, warm from the heaters and ready for our last day. Starting it off right with Yoga in the most modern and beautiful yoga studio either of us have ever had the pleasure of practicing in. The beautiful Icelandic prose was calming as we sweat and prepared for our last stop to the Blue Lagoon.
Sólir Yoga Studio in Reykjavik
The Blue Lagoons silica waters were exactly as described. My only advice is to buy the bare minimum package, as that is all you need. Everything else there is provided and you can save a lot of money. All said, Blue Lagoon is a MUST, and had us relaxed and ready for our flight home. Although it was short, it’s the adventure in your days, not the days in your adventure that count. That’s what we tell ourselves anyhow…
Recommendations as follows:
Luggage – Cheap flights means no checked luggage. It is cheaper to pay for checked bags in advance!
Alcohol – Purchase at the duty free in your home country, and bring it yourself, because alcohol is astronomically expensive in Iceland
Bónus grocery store – best bang for you buck on food
Iceland hot dogs in Reykjavik –Best hot dogs in the world, and very cost effective
Portable WiFi in the rental camper van – Clutch move, and amazing to have.
No bonfires allowed in Iceland ?
Cabs – Don’t bother, 30$ cab ride for 5km
George & Peach, Canada
Happy Camping! #CamperStories
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