The Icelandic Experience
A fascinating land for adventurous travelers
Iceland has been on my travel wish list since I can remember, as a must travel place you have to see at least once in a lifetime. This land does not disappoint, I can tell you that. Keep reading to learn about our experience in this exceptional island, and have a look at the tips we share to get the most out of your visit!
Me and my boyfriend decided this was the summer to have our adventure in the land of ice and fire. We were excited for weeks, preparing for the trip, looking up the places and routes we wanted to follow… I’d say I’ve enjoyed the arrangements almost as much as the trip itself!
Read more: Camping in Iceland
My advice to fellow adventurers is what follows: plan a route, but allow space and time for the unexpected and last-minute escapes. Iceland is a magical place where stumbling upon waterfalls and lakes you didn’t take into account is extra normal.
In our case, we visited Gullfoss twice (spectacular double waterfall, and part of the so-called Golden Circle which also includes Geysir and Thingvellir) and took a little detour of a couple of hours to bathe in the geothermal area of Hveragerði.
We planned for the route looking online and asking friends. We only got a week so we decided to focus on south Iceland, leaving one day free of activities so we could react to the unexpected: bad weather, detours from our route to see something worthwhile, some car incident…
We picked September for our trip and it was a smart decision because it was less crowded than it appears to be in summer, but the weather still allowed for activities in the outside with warm enough temperatures (12ºC max during the day) and plenty of daylight still.
An important part of our travel has been the accommodation and transportation. With a taste for adventure, we decided to go for the camping flavor. Our camper van has been our best companion in this trip! We’ve been left wondering if maybe we should buy one of our own and from now on do all our trips together this way.
Getting to the rental shop to pick up our campervan was pretty straightforward, and they nicely answered every question we had, thoroughly explaining details about the vehicle, camping gas, WiFi and so on. We were warned about the quickly changing weather, the strong winds and gravel roads, the main things to look out for on the road.
Read more: How to drive in Iceland
It is hard to name only a favorite place of our trip to Iceland, but if I had to choose, I would pick Seljalandsfoss for it was a huge waterfall that could be seen from behind and allowed to be walked and enjoyed from all angles, and it was the first big one that we visited (prior to Skógarfoss and Gullfoss). Also, I can recall the incredible sensation in Jökulsárlán with all the icebergs gently floating in the lake while the seals were swimming along. What a soothing and powerful experience.
Iceland is a country not only for the nature lover, but also for the selfie junkie as this land is filled with breathtaking views and places, and every corner is incredibly charming. It isn’t rare to see people take a break when driving on the Ring Road to snap some pictures and capture incredible landscapes.
If anything, Iceland allows to have a mindfulness retreat of natural wonders. And staying on camps enables even more this feeling, for you go back to a minimal lifestyle, where the only worries are to get a shower, air out the sleeping bags, prepare breakfast and do your dishes. What one can see as a lack of modern comforts, transforms into an important part of the trip where you learn how to live in the moment.
It is important to go fully prepared and with enough warm clothes for the weather truly changes instantly. There is a saying in Iceland that goes like this: if you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes. In our case, that wasn’t even necessary because we had an astonishing weather with sunny skies almost every day, with the exception of showers during some of the nights. Can’t believe we got so lucky!
Read more: What to pack for a camping trip in Iceland
Icelanders of course contribute to the charms of travelling to this amazing island: in our experience, they are kind and patient people, and have been of great help always. Reading through Iceland’s History, Icelandic people have endured the hardships of a wild land, with all its volcanoes and hard weather, and that explains their helpful ways and strong sense of community.
One thing you cannot forget to try is the local food: shark, lamb, cured fish and all kinds of seafood. Products are of first quality, and the tastes are nothing like you’ve tried before. If you are too traditional with food, I’d recommend sticking with salmon and lamb, cured shark is only for the bold!
As per communication, do not worry: English is widely spoken, Icelanders everywhere are very fluent on this language and eager to help you. I remember when buying our camping card that the cashier went outside looking for us to give us a list of camping sites still open in the season, seconds after we left because she had commented our purchase with her boss.
Read more: All year around camping sites in Iceland
We jokingly said that this trip to the land of ice and fire would either get us even closer or separate us forever (a little drama queen here), because we were going to spend a lot of time together. Honestly, going on a vacation to a hotel with all the luxuries vs camping is quite different and requires both partners to arrange for things on the fly (such as cleaning, adjusting to the unexpected, change of plans because of the weather etc.). Luckily enough the experience has brought us closer, and we’re even thinking of moving in together
Now that Iceland is top 1 on my travel list, I’m eager to revisit and this time take the entire tour by the Ring Road, so I can travel to the highlands and the North, try again to see the elusive Northern Lights and also pay a visit to the places I’ve already been to.
See you soon, Iceland
Read more: 4 friends and a camper van
Happy Camping! #CamperStories
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