Wows, Laughs and Photographs
Exploring Iceland in a camper-van could be described as nothing less than a truly unforgettable experience. The freedom to venture where we wanted, when we wanted can be described as nothing less than liberating.
To begin, let us introduce ourselves. We’re Micaela and Michael (yes, two names for the price of one, we know), a Canadian couple in our early 20’s who had heard nothing but good things about Iceland for the past year. We are adventure seekers by nature who have a pretty severe case of the travel bug. We discovered the art of camper-vanning on our last trip together to Australia, in which we spent the month travelling the east coast at our own pace. We stopped where we wanted to stop, did all of the scenic driving -on the left side of the road- ourselves, in addition to following a rough itinerary that we had outlined before the trip. We have both had the privilege of travelling before this inaugurating camper van voyage, but after seeing the possibilities that this way of travelling presented us with, we were instantly in love with it. Fast-forward to the present, and there we were packing our backpacks for another camper van adventure, this time, Iceland’s Ring Road was our destination of choice, which we planned to conquer in the span of two weeks.
The night we picked up our camper van was the night that our Icelandic adventure truly began. Our tentative itinerary was finalized and we were literally ready to hit the Highway 1! We began our journey from Reykjavik headed north, up the west coast and planned to continue clockwise around the Ring Road from there on, completing the circle in Reykjavik at the end of our two weeks. Despite all the planning involved with organizing a trip, the unexpected events and encounters we had along the way seem to be, retrospectively, the most memorable parts of our adventure. In the re-telling of our Icelandic voyage, we are so excited to share not only the incredible things we were so excited to see, but most importantly, the unexpected memorable instances that are forever etched into our memories.
Iceland’s landscape was nothing short of breathtaking. We can say with confidence that Iceland is the most “untouched” place we have traveled to, to-date. As a result, we were often catching ourselves saying “WOW” as we drove along our route. The vast flat-lands filled with moss-covered lava rocks, the craters, the volcanoes and the mountains truly blew us away. Sure, we looked at pictures of the various places we were going to visit prior to travelling, but the sensory stimulation of physically being submerged in the environment was indescribable. Since returning from our trip, our friends and family have asked how it was to be in a place where nature seemed to reign. Our reply is often that they have to experience it first-hand, as no amount of describing what we experienced will begin to amount to the feeling of being in it. The contrast in temperature in “The Land of Ice & Fire” could not have been more mesmerizing. From the cold waters of Silfra to the bubbling mud pits of the Mývatn region, Iceland is a scientific marvel!
Alongside the spectacular Icelandic landscape, the Icelandic animals were certainly a highlight of our trip. More specifically, the Icelandic animals’ personalities had us laughing for hours on end. It is for this reason that we would love to showcase a particular animal experience we had in Iceland, which was undoubtedly facilitated by our camper van style of travelling.
Let us set the scene; it was a rainy day in the north of Iceland. We had just had the privilege of seeing the majestic Dettifoss in all of her glory, but had gotten pretty wet in the process. For this reason, we thought it would be a good idea to find a cafe in which to dry off, and recharge ourselves with some hot refreshments and a kleina, the Icelandic doughnut we had read about, and were so excited to try. Being in the north, towns were few and far between so we stopped in Möðrudalur, at the only cafe in town. Wet and slightly in need of a quick caffeine boost, we walked towards the door of the cafe and, to our great surprise, were greeted by the scariest goat that we had ever seen in our lives! He had huge horns that pointed straight up and out, with 3 different colors of fur coating his body. He also had angry eyes that made it seem like he was ready to charge. But despite his scary appearance, he was sitting calmly and quietly RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE ENTRANCE. Being from a rather urbanized area of Canada, we had never encountered this kind of blockade in a town and we were not sure what to do. “Should we step over it? Should we try to get around it?”. These were very serious questions we were asking ourselves in this sitcom-esque turn of events. Reaching over the goat to get the handle, we opened the door and tried to maneuver around the goat in order to relish in the warm cafe… however, the goat had the same idea. Before we could even get in ourselves, the goat made its way into the center of the cafe and we were left dumbstruck, looking around for how to handle this GOAT IN THE CAFE. As we looked around for help – and both still slightly scared of the scary-looking goat – a man working in the cafe emerged from behind the counter, walked in a “no-nonsense” manner up to the goat, took an authoritative stance, and pointed sternly towards the exit. Immediately, the goat ran as fast as he possibly could out of the cafe, and we were left in stitches of laughter. This mischievous goat must have been a regular at the cafe as he seemed to know the owner a little too well! We really feel like this little story is a great encapsulation of some of the Icelandic animals. Although they seem to be controlled, we really loved how they were able to make their own decisions, which really allowed their personalities to shine through. From this goat, to the sheep that we would see that had climbed impossibly high on the mountain sides and the horses that were in pens so large that they could roam and run wherever they pleased, the not-so-domestic animals we saw were a true highlight of the trip.
It was that same day that we thought it would be a good idea to name our van, as our mode of transportation/accommodation was an exponentially important part of our trip. Having just visited the majestic Dettifoss, we thought “Detti” would be a cute name for our van. In hindsight, we probably should have looked up the Icelandic meaning of the word “detti” before we took such a liking to it. Only near the very end of our journey did we actually look up the meaning of the word, to find out that in Icelandic, “detti” means “cascade or crash”! Once more, we could not stop laughing as we had ignorantly named our van “crash”…“Crash, the camper van”! Having successfully finishing our journey unscathed, all the while treating our van with the utmost care and caution, we have speculated that the irony of naming our van “Crash” may have actually been what kept us from getting in any sort of entirely unpredictable accident! So, thank you irony and new languages that we don’t quite understand!
As a closing remark, we would love to re-state that travelling is incredibly exciting. To be in a place you have never set foot can be both eye-opening to some, as well as overwhelming to others, but we love that everything is truly a learning experience. Travelling is embracing the new, while adapting to functioning in an unfamiliar culture and navigating foreign roads. Having only camper-vanned once before in an environment that differed from that of Iceland, we were more than ready to learn, adapt and conquer anything in our path. After having concluded our Icelandic adventure, we couldn’t help but feel extremely lucky that we got to experience the country in such an intimate way, and we owe a great deal of gratitude to Campervans Iceland. This trip has really proven to us that travelling by camper van is our favorite way to see a country.
Read more: Sherman’s saga in September – Iceland
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