Three German girls in rainy Netherlands are desperately waiting for their next week of holiday. While promising parents we’d finally come home for a week we accidentally booked a flight to Iceland. Oops we did it again! While a busy semester kept us from making any travel plans we packed our wellies, rain jackets and lots of packet soups and jumped on the plane. First thing arriving in Iceland we were welcomed with warm hearts and a fantastic camper. As we are all full time students we didn’t expect much luxury but were pleasantly surprised how well equipped our home on wheels was. We stocked up on food at the local shops and headed straight on to the ring road, about to put a few kilometers behind us before dawn. We totally locked out on our frst night in Iceland! Only a few hours after landing we excitedly stopped our camper to have a good look at the northern lights. The sky was lit up by green and purple lights while we were casually brushing our teeth. Our first night on the road began and after a busy and beautiful day we fell asleep within seconds.
It was only in the next morning that we realized the beauty of our parking place, where we enjoyed our sunrise breakfast starring out of the windows of our camper van.
Our next stop was going to be Goðafoss waterfall, however the ride took a bit longer than expected because of the many stops we had to take to photograph this extraordinary landscape. We made a 40 minute stop to take pictures and only to realize in the end that it was just 500 meters away from Goðafoss. Arriving there, we were thrilled to see our first waterfall in Iceland. Stupid as tourists are, we risked our precious lives to get the perfect shot. Here you go:
As visiting waterfalls usually becomes a bit chilly we headed back on the road on our way to a warm and nice nature bath in Mývatn. As usually we got distracted as smoke seemed to come out of the ground around us.
Curious as we are we took the next turn to the right and what we smelled next wasn’t pleasant at all, but rather smelled like hard boiled eggs and gave us the fnal hint that we must have been on the devil’s traces. In fact, we had discovered sulfuric fields and even more surprisingly a naked man bathing in the middle of them. After experiencing the Icelandic way of bathing, we went for the slightly more touristic version and stopped by Mývatn Nature Bath. Prepared with the GoPro which luckily didn’t catch the smell, we dived right in. The water was surprisingly soft and warm and together with the incredible view it made it hard for us to leave.
Back on the road our next stop was Dettifoss. Before we could take the hike we first fired up our camper gas stove to cook some pasta. While the pasta did not taste as good as expected, we were later on rewarded with an incredible view on Dettifoss as well as Selfoss. It took us a whole hour of hiking and admiring the landscape. Before finding a spot for the night we planned on driving all the way to Höfn in the South East, the starting point of the next day’s adventures. Once again we realized that driving in Iceland is an adventure itself. Especially at night when suddenly our beloved paved road ends and is replaced by gravel.
Slowly driving up the mountains close by Egilsstaðir we quickly realized that we must have been driving through a cloud. While road signs on the side were meant to keep drivers at a speed of 80 km/h we barely reached 20 while trying to find our way. The three of us were pressed against the front window, holding hands while anxiously looking for a way out of this fog. Luckily we made it and finally found a nice place to sleep for the night.
Waking up the next morning we couldn’t wait to hit the road again. After a yummy breakfast within a beautiful scenery we made our way to Glacier Lagoon. It didn’t take long until we arrived at what looked like little Antarctica. Ice shells everywhere offered a better view than any windows screen saver and kept our breath away. At times the three of us turned silent simply looking at the glaciers and enjoying all of its beauty.
It took us a while to turn away from that goofy seal dabbling between the ice shells and we finally moved on to diamond beach which is situated right next to Glacier Lagoon. If at the moment you are making travel plans for Iceland, stop right here and schedule some extra time for this magnificent spot. We all agreed that this was the best part of our travels as we are sure this is unique and cannot be found anywhere else on earth. Ice blocks were stranded all over the beach sparkling in the light and holding the perfect contrast to the volcano stamped black beach. We tried to capture those beautiful memories on camera but all you can do to see this perfection of nature is to pack your camper and stop by.
Suddenly, we realized that we had totally forgotten to eat and therefore we stopped at the side of the road to cook some food. While enjoying our pasta we starred right at two small waterfalls and watched a local shepherd’s work. The sheep seemed far away until suddenly they decided to interrupt our lunch and we held on to our pasta bowls as the wild flock was running towards us. Luckily, they were a little suspicious and stopped a few meters before our camper. The shepherd chased his flock further on the road not without laughing at these obviously scared tourist girls.
Afterwards, we visited Skógafoss another one of Iceland’s stunning waterfalls. As we drove on to find a place to stay the night, we eventually discovered the home of elves and trolls. We had read, and -no offence- laughed a little about Icelandic people believing in those mythical creatures but when we drove by this endless landscape of moss and rocks we suddenly knew where it all comes from. Even, if we would not have admitted before that these fairy-tale figures existed, we knew we were wrong, right at this spot. We took plenty of pictures but agreed it would be less frightening to park and sleep a little further away.
Day 3 – Black Sand Beaches
Day three, we woke up to a sheep starring through our camper’s window. What better way to start our day other than having breakfast with true locals. All excited about another day in windy Iceland we walked straight to the black beach where once again it felt as if we had arrived at a movie set. Dark clouds were hanging above the rough see, while the waves where crawling up the black beach and hitting against massive rocks. Once again, we stood there in silence wondering how nature could be so dramatic and yet so dramatically beautiful. The scenery would not have been more perfect, being situated at a cliff, which is hard to describe, but should rather be experienced, or for now be seen on a photograph.
Only a few minutes-drive away from Reynisfjara we visited the wreck of an old U.S. Navy plane which crashed at the Sólheimasandur black sand beach in 1973. It took us about forty minutes of walking on, what seemed like an endless street. Though, when we got there we quickly realized every minute was worth it! It was just us and another couple at this moment so we took our time walking around and even climbing inside the wreck to see every inch of it.
The walk back went a lot better and we quickly arrived at our camper where we could finally warm up with a nice and hot supper. Feeling all rested and ready for our next adventure we went for a little hike to one of the Southern Nature Baths. You might have already seen pictures of Blue Lagoon but this is a totally different experience. Way less touristic and far more natural we bathed right in the middle of the mountains. While paddling within cozy warm water we looked at nothing but green mountains around us and not even the slight drizzling rain which started to set in, could take away our peace of mind.
Still a little lost in thoughts, we came along Seljalandsfoss waterfall which is different to the others as you can walk around it and actually see it from behind. That is exactly what we did as we made our way along the path.
Before finding a parking spot for the night, we wanted to try some typical Icelandic food. When we asked Google, we read lots about dried fish which seemed to be a real delicacy, though for some reason we ended up buying a hot dog instead. We had seen them everywhere along our journey and who doesn’t love a good excuse to enjoy some fast food. So, we went and bought the possibly most expensive hot dog of our life, but most certainly also the most delicious hot dog so far. Admittedly, a little exhausted from a long day and maybe reading a bit too much into a nation from judging their national dish, we agreed that Icelandic people know how to bring the simple things to perfection.
After a while of driving, we finally found a place to sleep which was fortunately very close to the Golden Circle which we wanted to drive to the next morning. Not too fortunate for us, we woke up at night by the wind lashing around our camper. Thinking back about the articles we had read about where and where not to park your camper, we made it an adventurous 3am road trip to a less windy place- what a night!
Day 4 – The Golden Circle
The past few days had flown by in no time. So we woke up on our last day ready to hit the Golden Circle, what seemed to be a more touristic route but was still totally worth it. We first stopped at Geysir which was the place we were most excited about. Truth be told, when we got there we realized that Stokkur was actually the main attraction rather than Geysir. While Geysir last broke out in 2000 its little brother right next to it spouts water fountains about every 5 minutes. After missing the perfect photo moment several times, it took some team work to hold up our camera for a full 5 minutes but we were rewarded with this:
Before heading to the city we stopped at Kerið Crater. For some reason, which we cannot explain, it is not considered one of the main attractions of the Golden Circle. But for someone who is up for volcanic landscapes this is definitely a must see. We got to walk around the crater which is characterized by its many earthly but colorful stains that looked even better looking right down on a bright blue lake.
Blown away by the latest experience of sheer natural beauty we got in our car and headed directly to Reykjavik. Back in civilization we strolled through the city along crowded pubs and hipster cafes. We couldn’t help but notice that the last days in wilderness had left its marks on us and that we could not compete with the very fashionable Icelandic folk which managed to look very fancy in their winter outfits, while the only thing we were able to manage was to stay warm. Wrapped in our scarfs and gloves we made the most out of our last hours in Iceland and went for another hotdog on our way back to our camper.
On our drive back to the airport we kept dreaming of the past days. We thought about the different landscapes we had come across which reminded us of all different movies and fairy tales. We remembered how we slowly started to believe in elves and trolls and we remembered our adventure with all its facets. Trying to sleep on the floor of Keflavik Airport we already missed our beloved camper which had shown us around the past days. Thanks to our home on wheels, we were able to see all places we wanted to, we had a home wherever we went and we were able to warm up with a warm supper whenever we had been outside for too long.
One final thought going out to our fellow travelers, thinking about going to Iceland: Get of your couch and book that plane ticket to Iceland now as mass tourism has not arrived in Iceland yet. Now, that you can still park your camper whenever and wherever you want to and now that Icelandic people are not yet sick of foreigners camping in their backyard and now that you can visit plenty of breath taking waterfalls without a shabby looking guy trying to sell you a postcard or key chain. Get on that plane because yes, it does look as pretty as on the pictures and spoiler alert, it’s even more beautiful in real life.