Iceland- no filter needed
We are Nohely and Jonas, a couple from the US and Germany respectively, and this is our CamperStories entry.
(P.S. if you can’t get through the whole story skip to the end for a few Iceland survival tips!)
We decided on taking our trip with a camper to be able to go around all of Iceland during our 5 and a half day itinerary. Before getting to Iceland, we had a book guide which we used to plan our visit and we decided to go counterclockwise, adventure though the South and work our way up.
So the big day came and we got to Iceland, confident in our plan and where we were headed, ready to take on our way. We got picked up at the airport right as we got out and headed to receive our camper. The friendly assistant was really informative and guided us on traffic rules, supermarkets, and most importantly he showed us websites to look at the weather. He asked us about our plans and, well, as it turns out he warned us about a wind storm which would last about over a day. In a matter of minutes all the plans we had took a 360 turn. Again our assistant came to the rescue and suggested an alternative route that could keep us on track.
That same day we visited the bridge between continents, settled between beautiful black sand and a landscape that resembles what seemed to be another planet; deserted, quiet, and beautiful. As it happened throughout the whole trip, the scenery changed in a matter of minutes, from the hustle and bustle of the airport to a magnificent rocky view.
We then began our trip to the north, passing by Reykjavik, stopping in random places, and ending up at our campsite in Búðardalur.
Our day consisted of a few stops to deep canyons, powerful waterfalls (Kolugljúfur), and even a pick me up coffee in a charming little town. The weather was great, it was very sunny with some wind, which created a magnificent scenery mixed with the snowy landscape.
The highlight of the day came as we were about to reach our campsite. We saw a few campers parked and a big source of water, so we pulled over. The view was surreal, the sun was beginning to set and the water was a light shade of blue. We took a short walk up a walkway and found a winning view in þingeyjarsveit, which you can judge for yourself.
Oh day 3- it was a bit of a roller-coaster. We began our day at Grjótagjá, a hot spring cave which was featured in Game of Thrones. It was relatively empty so we thought it would be a good idea to dip our feet in the water, Jonas was convinced he could withstand the hot temperature but only to his surprise he was barely able to dip them. We took a walk through the lava rock fields and felt the warmth of a few other hot springs nearby.
We then headed to a whole new landscape, one of deep red-colored mountains and not much snow in sight, but let’s not forget that lovely Sulphur smell coming from the geothermal springs. As ugly as the smell may be, it is mind boggling the colors and environments they can create.
For lunch, we pulled out our table and chairs from the camper and set up for some baked beans and eggs, which led us to find a river with a strong current. This was a truly special experience for us. We got explore the secluded and untouched nature.
Then comes the good part, we were headed to our campsite hoping to find a few sites along the way, we took a road which had a “road closed” sign set aside, which made me nervous and cautious. It was the most nerve-wrecking 30 minutes, there was so much snow and rain, I won´t bore you with the details, but knowing that we had a heater, food, and shelter gave me some piece of mind. The meter high snow did not prepare me for the view that was to come. This is what anyone expects when you think of Iceland, from between the fog a waterfall emerged. Words cannot do it justice.
A tiny lake filled with swans led us to the vastness of the black sand beach for the beginning of our 4th day. We talked, hangout, and exercised until we were met with showers.
As we were headed to the next destination we found out that there would be a very strong wind storm through the route we were planning to take that day, so yet again, we had to change our plans.
We stopped in Jökulsárlón for the famous glacier lagoon, which did not disappoint. At this point we were still in the storm area so we moved on to Skaftafell to hike a bit.
Unfortunately, the hiking trail we had planned on doing was closed, but there were two open still. Right after lunch we went on a hike to visit the Svartifoss falls. The symmetrical rock designs left us in awe.
The second trail led to a completely different attraction, a massive glacier peeking between mountains. We were able to go on part of the glacier which was a scary experience for me, I felt like a newborn horse trying to walk, but I instantly became Jonas´ laughing stock.
Our first quick stop was at a shore (Vik) which had magnificent rock formations but the strong wind which persisted made it difficult to stay out for long, so we sped up our plans and decided to skip the plane crash site, which we were looking forward to.
Next, we visited Seljalandsfoss. The weather at this point was a lot better, the wind calmed down and the sun was even out shining.
We had the opportunity to go into a waterfall that was semi-hidden, you have to go through a stream of water gliding from rock to rock to find it.
We called our day early and settled in Gesthús Selfoss, which was a good price for all the amenities and there was even a hot tub.
Our last day we thought we would do the Golden Circle and stop by Reykjavík. En route to our first destination, we found some cute little fellas, Icelandic horses. We approached them carefully thinking they would run away, but on the other hand, they came up to us and we enjoyed their company.
We arrived at our destination, Gullfoss and were surprised with the magnitude of the water pressure and amount of mist coming from it. We moved onto Geysir and stayed to see Strokkur erupt. After the geysers, we wanted to find a place to make lunch, so we went to Laugarvatn, but instead of lunch we wanted to hit the hot spring swimming pools. Much to our luck, we found a young woman who was doing research there and in exchange for an interview we got to visit Fontana for free.
Before heading for dinner to Reykjavik, we wanted to see Þingvellir national park. It was a vast landscape, along a rocky road, but had many walking-friendly trails. Along the way to the falls, we saw some small white birds. Later found out they are rock Ptarmigans, which are part of Icelandic culture, as a festive food for Christmas eve dinner.
After stopping at Costco for dinner, we went to our last sight for the trip, Reykjanes peninsula. The 300km reserve is one to not miss was less touristy than most other places in the Golden circle area. It was filled with lava formation fields and spongy green plants. The national park was a great ending to our trip.
Breathtaking Iceland gave us an unforgettable experience and I couldn’t even begin to imagine it without our cozy little camper van.
- Bónus (supermarket) will be your go-to. As you know, Iceland is very expensive so if you’re trying to save money visit Bónus.
- Use the diesel discount card. It’s attached to the key chain. OB was the best priced diesel we found.
- Constantly check en.vedur.is for weather forecast and there is also road.is for road closure updates.
- Although it may be seen as ‘old fashioned’, a book guide is actually very helpful since there are so many options that having them all listed out makes it that much easier to pick. Plus internet may not be too great everywhere. We used the Lonely Guide and would recommend it.
- The weather may not always be on your side but stay positive, pick your losses and prioritize. At the end of the day, you won’t run out of beautiful places to see.
- Don’t be afraid to stop in places that don’t have parking lots, but be mindful and respectful of nature.
- Alcohol is not sold in supermarkets. If you want a beer at the end of the day, visit Vínbúðin!
Read more: The Idiot’s guide to Iceland
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