Kiwis on the move in Iceland
We arrived in Iceland for our weekend away and the weather was pretty miserable. We didn’t let that deter us though! We picked up our camper van and were excited to be spending a couple nights in it as neither of us had stayed in one before.
I am a big foodie so whenever we visit a new country I always look for new food to try, so we went to the supermarket to have a look at all the different snacks. We stocked up on some cheese and crackers and some water-really glad we had the fridge to keep things cool. We had heard that food in Iceland was quite expensive so we had brought some two minute noodles with us which were easy to cook on the gas cooker. Other than that and some things from the supermarket, we tried not to eat at restaurants or fast food places.
Although good old maccas isn’t everyone’s favorite fast food, I always like to see all the different items each country offers so I was surprised and disappointed that Iceland doesn’t have McDonald’s! They do have the usual Dominos, KFC, Subway and even Taco Bell though so there was a good selection if you wanted to eat fast food.
After getting used to driving on the right (or the wrong) side of the road, we decided to do the touristy thing and check out the Strokkur geyser, this is on the Golden Circle.
Already we were loving the freedom of the camper van, no pressure to stay close to a hotel or be back by a certain time.
When we got to the thermal area, it was raining quite hard which although it wasn’t the greatest, it meant it wasn’t as busy so we got prime spot to view the geyser going off. We stayed and watched it four times – SO WORTH IT.
It was quite fun waiting in anticipation for it to explode and each time was just as exciting! It goes off quite regularly, roughly every five minutes, sometimes it would erupt higher than others but it was always fun to watch.
We headed back to the camper to dry off, having the luxury of being able to set up the bed easily and have space to move around was perfect while we waited for the rain to ease.
Being quite overcast and cloudy, we didn’t make the trek to some of the waterfalls that we would have liked to but we decided to go on a quest to see which ones were reasonably close to the road.
We visited the Gullfoss waterfall which is the one on the Golden Circle route only a small drive from the geyser’s. This one was amazing and on a large scale. I liked that there was a path to see it from the top and another path to see it from the front. We really recommend this one as it was only a minute walk from the car park and was an easy path.
We also visited the Hraunfossar waterfall which was lots of smaller ones cascading over the lava rocks. It was about a two hour drive from Reykjavik in the rain.
Again, the paths to the waterfall were not long and were proper paths.
We noticed that by most of the main waterfalls there was usually a cafe and toilet next to them so this made it easier for us to plan our toilet stops!
Something we noticed while driving around everywhere is how desolate the place is. Everything is very spread out and even the main city areas are quite quiet and then it’s usually just one lonely road for hours to the next destination. You look around and can’t see anything but brown grass and occasionally some horses. For this reason it is a good idea to make sure your tank is always at least half full just in case as you didn’t always know when the next service station would be. We did find the camper van was very economical though, we did a lot of driving around and didn’t need to fill up often.
Even though my boyfriend did all the driving (he did a great job!) it was still an experience being on the opposite side, little things like going around the roundabouts made me a little anxious “yup this is the right way!”.
The Northern Lights were the main draw card for us visiting Iceland so we were obviously hanging out to see them. I had been checking out the auroral forecast all week leading up to our trip. As we had booked our flights over six months ahead, we knew it would be a 50/50 chance of seeing them but we were hopeful that we would get lucky. Unfortunately the forecast/probability was low and on top of that, the sky was covered in thick clouds. This meant that we didn’t get to see the lights during our stay which was a real shame. If this is a deal breaker for you and you can afford to book flights last minute then I would recommend tracking the auroral activity forecast as well as the weather forecast to decide when to book your flights, although even then it is not guaranteed you will see them.
We parked up for the night and got ourselves ready for bed. We were pleasantly surprised at how comfortable it was and we had a great nights sleep. At the time of booking, the two person campers had all been booked so we booked the next size up which was a three seater. We had plenty of space in bed and were able to stand up and had room to move around and get changed etc. without any issues so if you are like me and like the extra comfort, I definitely think it is worth getting the size up if you can afford it.
One of the big things on our list that we wanted to see in Iceland was the Blue Lagoon thermal pools. We had heard that it was best to buy the tickets in advance as they sell out quickly and this was right! When we went online to book about two weeks prior to the trip, there were already only a few time slots left. You book in a time that you will arrive and you have to be there within the hour, once you are there though you can stay as long as you want. We ended up driving to the wrong blue lagoon (I googled it and just picked the first one which was actually just an indoor pool with the same name!) but we still got there in time.
It was a very cold day and it was raining so we were eager to get into the hot water, they give you an electronic wristband when you arrive and this lets you access your locker and buy things at the cafe/bar while you are there and you just pay when you leave which was a really good system.
The water was beautiful! It had this light milky blue colour to it which comes from the light reflecting off the minerals. It was interesting as you couldn’t see below the surface. The place was huge so there was ample room to swim around without big crowds. There was a swim-up bar which was so cool! We got a couple drinks from there which was nice. Because it was raining and cold, we didn’t get too hot but they did have nice cold water fountains around the lagoon that you could drink from as the water did feel a little dehydrating.
There was a lot to do for a pool if you wanted to spend the money, they had a cafe and a restaurant, a gift shop, in pool massage (which looked amazing but was quite expensive) and even a swim up face mask bar! The blue lagoon is definitely a must do while in Iceland.
We had a rough idea of things we wanted to see when we got to Iceland but we hadn’t actually mapped anything out, because of this, we found that we wasted a lot of time driving back and forwards between places so if we were to do it again, I think we would have properly mapped out where we wanted to go so we could drive the most efficient way around everywhere. Advice for anyone else going would be to make sure you have an idea/plan of things you want to do if the weather isn’t the best because this threw us off a little bit.
Weather aside, we had a really enjoyable weekend driving around Iceland and seeing the sights. I’m definitely glad we chose to get a camper van as this was the easiest way to get everywhere on our own terms and in our time-frame.
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