Ross & Hayley’s Icelandic adventure
So, I’m sitting here reminiscing about our amazing trip around Iceland, which was only a week ago now, (February 2018). First of all, if your thinking of visiting Iceland… DO IT, don’t even think, just book it now. It is the most amazing and beautiful country. But let me tell you our experience to help you plan your trip.
It was just me and my boyfriend traveling and we rented a small Renault Kangoo camper for the week, which for us was perfect. It was fuel efficient and got us around the whole island with no drama. We weren’t sure about having a 2WD in the winter, but actually it was fine, they’re fitted with studded tires and the roads were mostly clear.
Our first stop after collecting the van was Bónus, for our food shop for the week. It wasn’t too expensive and had most of what we wanted. A must buy is a 1kg bag of peanut M&M’s, great snack for on the road.
Next, we drove to Hallgrímskirkja church, where there was a free carpark so we could walk to the Hand-knitting Association of Iceland, where I bought my authentic Icelandic woolly jumper. I love it, and it kept me so warm through the week, although, it was quite itchy but fine when you’ve got clothes underneath and anyway, beauty is pain.
Tip: While your in the city, make sure to stop at one of the big petrol stations for a fuel card, (if you don’t want to use your credit card that is), we found the most common petrol station around the whole island was N1. And buy gas cans for the gas cooker, they are hard to get at smaller stations.
We then drove from Reykjavík to our first campsite Úthlíð. Decent W/C and shower facilities, expensive compared to other campsites we stayed at and was just in their carpark really, but the snow was falling and it looked beautiful anyway. Our first night was a chilly one and it snowed a fair amount.
Day 2, we got up early and drove to the Geysir, it smelt like someone had let one rip, but they were amazing to watch explode, not like anything we’d seen before. We then head up the road to Gullfoss, where we were meeting for our snowmobiling tour. We got picked up by this massive snow bus, that was pretty cool in itself, it drove us to the mountains to where we got on our snowmobiles. It was amazing, wish we could have had longer and been able to go a bit faster! When we got back to Gullfoss, we walked to the waterfall, which was a bit of a slippy walk, I fell on my butt, but it was still worth it.
After our busy morning around the Golden circle, we drove to our next campsite Skógar. On our drive, we noticed a car pulled up at the side of the road, we figured they may have broken down but as we went further along there was a whole bus load on the side of the road with cameras, we then realized the Northern lights were behind us but we were driving away from them so nearly missed out. We pulled up as soon as we could to take photos. And I know what your thinking girls… ‘Did he propose?’ to put it blunt, no!
Honestly, we were too busy getting a good photo, they are hard to photograph by the way, I downloaded an Northern lights camera app before we left, which worked pretty well, if I do say so myself. After our excitement of seeing the Northern lights, we carried on to our rest stop. We arrived at Skógar quite late so it was dark, but there was a little hut with toilets and picnic benches outside. There were showers too but think they were closed for the winter.
The next morning we woke to the most amazing view and we hadn’t realized we were right near Skógafoss waterfall. We had breakfast and then walked up to the top of the waterfall, it got busy quick so we were glad to be among the first few there. Once we’d got our photos we drove up the road to Sólheimasandur plane wreck. By this point it had started to rain and was pretty windy but we decided to carry on, not realizing its about an 8 mile walk there and back. We eventually got to the plane wreck but the weather was pretty rough, it was raining and 35mph winds! It was cool to see, but I don’t think I would’ve bothered if I’d known the weather would get so bad, it felt like the wind could take you and there was grit flying in our faces. Ross would love to tell you how I cried on the walk back, but in my deference, it was a real struggle against the wind and rain and I’ve not ever experienced weather like it. So don’t be hasty.
After we’d dried off a bit and made a make shift washing line for the van to dry our clothes, we carried on to our next campsite Djúpivogur. This was a really lovely spot next to a small harbour. They had a service house with showers, kitchen and living area, which was just what we needed.
Day 4, we got up and ready for a longer day driving. We headed straight to the Mývatn geothermal nature baths. It was a scenic drive, beautiful views on the way. The nature baths were so lovely, I think you appreciate them more visiting in the winter too, although, brace yourself for getting out the baths! We decided to go here just because it was more on our route, but I can’t see the Blue lagoon would’ve been any more amazing either, Mývatn had a really pretty view too. Once showered (needed a good scrub to get the eggy smell off), we continued to our next campsite for the night, Akureyri (Kjarnaskógur).
They also had quite a big service house which had a kitchen with an oven too. This was quite a treat as we were able to cook something a little more exciting to your typical camp food… chips!
After a good nights sleep we set off to the Christmas house just down the road from where we had stayed. It was like a fairy-tale, unfortunately we were unable to go inside as they have shorter opening hours outside of Christmas, but definitely worth seeing.
We then drove most of the day to get back to Reykjavík, where we had planned to camp but the campsites in the city were horrid or as Ross described ‘like being in resident evil’. So, we decided to drive back out of the city to Þingvellir National Park, which was much more back to nature. We discovered that this is where they come for diving, which we would’ve tried if we’d known. We had booked to go whale watching the next day but unfortunately it got cancelled due to poor weather, we were meant to go on an ice cave tour earlier in the week also but this was cancelled too. So be prepared for this, I expect this happens mostly in the winter time.
Our final day in the camper van. We drove back to Reyjkavík and had a tasty breakfast in Prikið. Then we sadly had to take our van back. We arrived at the office early afternoon but we had one day left in Reykjavík so we got the bus back into the centre to get our hotel for the night, as I thought we deserved a bit of luxury after a week of slumming it. We stayed at Hotel Borg, which was very posh but very nice. We had a lovely evening, had our dinner cooked for us at Solon Bistro which was delicious and then we had a few drinks at a couple of the bars. Beware, it is quite expensive to eat and drink out in Iceland.
We had the best nights sleep in our lovely king size bed and were ready for our final day in Iceland. We wandered around the shops most of the day, stopping for a hot dog at lunch, as this seemed to be a highly recommended food to try. Tried the hot dog stand, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, which wasn’t amazing as everyones made out, but definitely the cheapest food we’d bought. After lunch we did a bit more wandering until it was time for us to get back to the airport, our most amazing week was over and the holiday blues set in, but what an experience it was.
All we can say is Thank You Iceland!
Ross & Hayley
Read more: Inside the Iceland Camper Van
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