Our Icelandic Camper story
Iceland was in our dreams since a long time. We saw those beautiful landscapes in Lord of the Rings and many other movies, and it seemed to be the perfect destination for two French hiking/nature lovers. After spending some time searching for similar experiences on the web or from our friends, we came to the conclusion that a camper van would be the best way to travel, and to see a maximum amount of things, during the two weeks we have. Many spots are along the main road (or not too far), and can be accessed with a normal car… and no rally-driving experience 🙂 With the bus we would probably have been too slow, and bike maybe a bit hard for the apprentice adventurers that we are 🙂 We did not regret this choice, at all.
Our Icelandic story started with two full days by foot in the capital. We visited some museums: The boat of the marine museum was really interesting, and the national museum allowed us to understand the incredible (and sometimes tragic) story of the country. We also experimented the good (but often expansive…) local restaurants, and met the first french guy of the trip in a fish and chips :). Then we took our “home on wheels” at the Rent.is office near Reykjavik, bought some groceries, and started to drive to our first place on the road: The mythic “Golden Circle”.
The Golden Circle
The wind and the rain were with us for this first evening… Hopefully it will be really different for the rest of the trip, and we even had sun burn on our faces! We did not forget our raincoats but the sunscreen was not in our carry on luggage. We found our first sleeping place before Þingvellir, but we were unfortunately woken up by a cop, who told us that we were parked inside the national park. We moved to a nearby campsite and picked up some stuff left by previous campers, so finally we were lucky. 🙂 Many times during the trip, It took some time to find spots to sleep, but we always found lovely places. The next days were a real enchantment. The Golden Circle is a kind of “demonstration” of the many natural shows we were going to see in the following of our trip : Geysers, Waterfalls… in a preserved, wild environment.
The most memorable part of our trip (for both of us) was probably the area of Þakgil, near Vik. It’s a real Hiking paradise, hidden in the mountains. We could observe the progressive color changes of the nature as we get closer from the glacier Mýrdal, with a double rainbow in the sky. The road 214 (unpaved), which leads to the campsite, is also beautiful, and we discovered that many people are sharing videos of it on YouTube.
After several days of travelling, or when we didn’t want to pay for a campsite, it was good to be able to take a shower or a bath sometimes. Icelandic geothermal pools are good for that. They are cheap, and always include hot tubs at different temperatures. We are not used to them, in our basic swimming pools 🙂 We also used hotpoticeland.com: this website references the public hotpots (more or less accessible) along the main road, and gives their GPS positions. It was funny to look for them, especially the “secret hot pot” (yes, this is the official name!), which was hidden behind a rock, and without any indications from the road 🙂
The “diamond beach”
Our journey continued to the proglacial lake of Jökulsárlón, with its icebergs floating and landing on the beach on the other side of the road. The small icebergs are like diamonds on the black sand, it is beautiful!. We parked the car on the beach for the night. A cop told us it is ok, this time, if we keep the place clean.
We were sleeping in the van. All of a sudden, we were woken up by some firecrackers… It was the annual fireworks show of Jökulsárlón! How lucky we are 🙂 We could watch through the window.
The next day, like almost every morning, the wind was present, so we had to find some tricks to cook, like this experimentation of wind blocking with the box cover 🙂
A positive aspect of the wind: The linen was drying very quickly 🙂
The fjord of Mjóifjörður
The east part of our journey was done in a single day. We choose to leave the main road to explore the fjord of Mjóifjörður, which was recommended in our guide and… we were not disappointed. We could take pictures without leaving the car!
The challenge was also to avoid the suicidal sheep who try to cross the road in front of the car… There are everywhere in this country, and we often saw them in unusual places!
Our next step was the area of Mývatn in the north, where we had planned to stay two days. We started with the most powerful waterfall in Europe: Dettifoss. Then we choose to park the car in the nice (but crowded!) campsite of Bjarg, close to the lake. We took a stroll in the famous dark lava fields of Dimmuborgir, which inspired the black metal band, and now we know why! We saw many other things in Mývatn: A crater, many geysers, some caves..
The return to Reykjavik
Then we took the road again to the west, until the Glaumbær farm, which is actually a nice museum.
The last waterfall we saw was probably the most impressive: Glýmur. 190 meters high, 2nd highest in the country! And the hike that leads to the top of it is equally beautiful.
The last day, we visited the Reykjanes peninsula. We had originally planned to spend the afternoon at the Blue Lagoon but we attempted to book online too late, and it was full 🙁
It is already the time for us to leave… This car was definitively the good option, as we could see most of the wonders in the country. But will we come back, one day, for Landmannalaugar, the Westfjords, and the others places that we had to skip. And maybe we will stay, like the many Frenchies we met there 🙂
Read More: Alexandru & Adam takes on Iceland in 4…
Happy Camping! #CamperStories
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