My 15 year old son and I have been dreaming about travelling to Iceland. We heard that the only way to explore Iceland was driving a camper van – and so we did. We also got the advice from home that we should choose either to go south or go north since we only had one week to explore Iceland.
We spend days before travelling planning our trip to get the absolute most out of the one week vacation. I spend many hours on Google but it really did pay off. I had written down a detailed plan and had even written down where I could find gas stations – just in case.
The camper van was perfect, easy to drive, cheap in diesel and fun to sleep in. Many nights we lay in our sleeping bags playing Yatzy before we went to sleep.
We spend all nights expect one at campsites. The campsites were cheap and we were able get a shower in the morning. We did most of our cooking ourselves and one night we gave away some of our food to two American young girls who had a camper but no gas burner. We felt so sorry for them when we watched them eating their dinner cold and straight out of the tin can.
We travelled on the south side and a little but up the east side of Iceland. The first thing we did was driving to Krýsuvik to see all the hot springs boiling and so very fun to watch. So near Keflavik and we guess a lot of people forget to see this place. We spend our first night in Grindavik so it was only a short distance to The Blue Lagoon where we were heading on our second day. The Blue Lagoon was wonderful and impressive – we never expected that the water really had this beautiful light blue color as we had seen on photos – but it sure did. We were here for a long time – relaxing and talking to a lot of Americans who among other things gave us good advice of where to have a nice dinner in Reykjavik. We spend half a day in Reykjavik walking around and had a great meal with reindeer burgers for dinner.
We then drove to Þingvellir National Park and spend the night here at the parking lot. Our directions to the snorkeling adventure was just “P5” and I was not sure of how easy it was to find the specific parking lot and we had to be prepared for our snorkeling trip early in the morning. But with WiFi in the camper van we found it straight away. We had the greatest time in Þingvellir and were exploring the area in the middle of the night (no darkness in June) just walking around seeing all this fantastic nature with signs explaining the Icelandic Sagas and what meaning Þingvellir has to the Icelandic people and how the King of Denmark during the second World War accepted that Iceland declared itself an independent nation.
The next morning we went snorkeling in the Silfra rift between the tectonic plates. The water was cold even though we wore dry suits but we really did enjoy it SO much. The water was crystal clear and we were able to see every tiny little thing in the water – at a visibility of a 100 metres. And the colours can not be described – blue, green, rose, yellow and more in lots of different nuances. We even saw the newest and massive crack on the tectonic plate.
We drove further on and saw Gullfoss and Strokkur. Amazing and overwhelming waterfall – we just stood there and was watching all the floods of water just came coming and coming and you speculate: where does it all come from and where does it all end? And these massive floods of water runs 24 hours a day – every day… Strokkur – the very active geyser. We spend hours here trying to understand the greatness of Mother Nature. It blasted thousands of liters of boiling-hot water again and again and it seemed like the eruptions came just right out of nowhere.
We travelled to Landeyjahöfn where we took the ferry to the Westman Islands. My son had this enormous wish to hike a volcano. And then – we didn’t know this- but here we found Eldfell – the youngest volcano on Iceland but an active volcano. It had it’s last eruption in 1973 and buried houses 16-18 meters under the lava. We were impressed by the magnificent view and even more impressed when we touched some of the larger stones on the very top and could feel the heat coming from them.
We then drove to Seljalandsfoss – another impressive waterfall where you are able to walk all the way up and get to stand behind the waterfall. And the result was stunning and very very wet…. We spend the night at the camping site just next to Seljalandsfoss so our view from the camper van was not just this waterfall but also another smaller waterfall right in front of us. What a great morning view.
We travelled further on to Skógafoss which is supposed to be the most beautiful waterfall on Iceland but it takes a long time to climb all those steps all the way to the top. Our legs got really tired. Then our well planned trip took us further on to Dyrhólaey and then to the village Vik – with the famous black lava sand where we finally and very unexpected saw Puffins and so very close by. They practically sat right in front us and were so very patient with us trying to take some great photos – funny little creatures that looks so sad and are a whole lot smaller than we imagined. You don’t think they are able to fly when you see them but of course they can. And when they do fly you can recognize their way of flying from a long distance.
And of course we saw lots of sheep and lambs and probably even more horses – my son even felt the urge one day to tell me that he just would like one day without me stopping to photograph horses….
Finally we drove to Skaftafell where we joined a 4 hours hiking tour on the Glacier and had the pleasure of walking right into the Glacier – a beautiful experience and you get amazed over and over again. The frozen blue ice with air bubbles inside it inside the Glacier and the snow, deep cracks you have to pass on narrow paths and the open spaces with white snow and ash and gravel from the volcanoes. This glacier moves 12½ centimeters per day.
Our trip ended at Jökulsárlón where we tried the Zodiac boat tour sailing in the Ice Lagoon where we got to feel and touch the 1000 year old ice – a thought that your mind hardly can relate to. And we were even so fortunate that we got to see an iceberg breaking up. Lots of blue ice and we could hear the deep rumbling from the glacier. We even got to see eight seals. Cute animals but they only show their little head for a few seconds above the water surface before the dive back into the water. The water here has a fantastic color which comes from the mix between the fresh water melting from the glacier combined with the salty water coming from the sea.
And of course we had to see the Icelandic diamonds which are ice crystals laying at the black lava sand. The beach is actually covered with shiny ice crystals. More beautiful than we had hoped for. No wonder that this beach is called Diamond Beach. Here we also got a different experience with a flock of small seagulls who were so very aggressive since they were protecting their nests. The result was a bloody wound on the top of my head. That was the only experience on Iceland which was a little scary. But I might have a minor scar to remind me of Iceland.
On the way back to Reykjavik – where we were going to stay the last night on Iceland – we stopped in Hveragerði because we wanted to lay down in a natural hot spring. And so we did after walking about 3 kilometers up and up and up and up….while it was raining. We didn’t realize how far we had to hike. But the view was great and we saw lots of boiling hot springs on the way to the top.
At the camping site in Reykjavik you can leave behind whatever you’re not going to bring with you back home. In that way some other travelers can reuse your things or clothing or eat the food you have left and didn’t get to eat.
We met lots of nice people over and over and over again. It really was a lifetime experience – everybody was so very helpful, both the Icelandic people but also the tourists. We probably saw more than I wrote down here but how can you describe a trip that can’t be measured up with anything else even though we have travelled to the States, Australia and the Caribbean – Iceland is just superior and something that you can’t get anywhere else.
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