The Secret Life of Christie & Tessa

Tessa by GeysirKeys in ignition, engines on, “right is right,” we whispered to ourselves. We hadn’t anticipated that our first venture would be learning to drive on the opposite side of the road.

As two young girls from Queensland, Australia we have only ever driven on the left, we also had very little experience driving a camper van and absolutely no camping experience. But we were ready to accept these challenges and were eager to embrace the unknown!

Luckily with the help of our trusty camper van and a little bit of Icelandic magic we were very quickly on our way to becoming professional mountain explorers and elite waterfall chasers.

Christie by Gullfoss Eating rainbows by Gullfoss

Bubbling Geysir areaWhen you first arrive in Iceland expect the phrases like, ‘oh my goodness,’ “wow,’ “woah’ ‘fair dinkum’ to be uttered from your lips as well as many moments of complete silence and awe.

Once we picked up the camper van from Reykjavik, we stocked up on food at the local Bónus and headed towards the Geyser’s!

As Australians, we had never really seen waterfalls or boiling water bubbling from the ground, so to say we were enthusiastic about it is definitely an understatement. Our first day was packed with of lots of excitement, waterfalls and rainbows (rainbows like to show their pretty face lots in Iceland).

Waterfall chasing in Iceland Gullfoss in hindsight

The Gullfoss Rainbow Photographing Gullfoss

It quickly became 10pm and the sun wasn’t falling asleep, so we didn’t want to either! All we wanted to do was to jump out of our camper van and explore our surroundings but we knew it was time to settle and get some rest to conserve our energy for the morning. Our first night sleeping in the van was exhilarating and surreal. New to the land and the idea of camping all we did was type into google “camping near me” and lo and behold a short drive away we found a beautiful clearing in the valley of some green, luscious mountains and we were greeted by some friendly horses as well as two girls from Norway and France who were working at the site for the summer. They shared their experience of being in Iceland and their favorite places to go. They encouraged us to go beyond the tourist track. We would come to thank them later for that.

Icelandic horse Friendly Icelandic horse

Our first few days of travelling were spent driving from one waterfall to the next, taking endless photos and soaking in the landscape. This included us pulling over every 20 minutes in the van to fully appreciate our surroundings.

On top of Skógafoss waterfall Hiked to the top of Skógafoss


On our second day, we bathed in the secret lagoon and enjoyed chocolate covered bananas at the Skógafoss. The beauty of the van was that all our food and clothes were stored and accessible from whatever location. We could make meals, swap clothes or nap at any hour of the day as our mobile home was always within reach.

Lunch at Skógafoss Enchanting Secret Lagoon

One of our favorite memories of the trip began when we were sitting in a little café charging our equipment just outside of Vik. We had overheard some people come in and ask directions for a “hidden pool”. Our ears perked up, anything with the words “hidden” and the promise of a warm pool excited us, especially after all the hiking we had done. We quickly googled and found the place they were talking about. On our way out we were stopped by two Americans who overheard us getting excited and told us that the hidden thermal pool was amazing but that if you walk further down there is a super hidden natural spring towards the mountain. We looked at each other and said, “let’s go.”

Fun at the hidden hot spring

We found the “hidden pool” and saw many people there excited they had found it but we kept walking, hoping that we would find somewhere more untouched and private. A few minutes on and there it was! Our very own geothermal bath.

Exclusive hot spring in Iceland A very hidden lagoon

Hidden geothermal poolWe ended up staying there for 2 hours. We spent the time using the black sand to exfoliate our skin and soaking in the serenity of the mountains and the warmth of the pool. It was therapeutic to say the least. The best part was that the water was so hot that we even used it to boil our cup of noodles! It was pure, natural and hot water streaming from the mountain that fed us that night. We had never felt more immersed in nature. If only every Friday night could be like this.

After leaving Vik we headed for the humble fishing town – Höfn. Our favorite thing about Iceland is that you don’t have to ever try and seek out adventure, it’s there all around you, 24 hours a day. You can’t escape the beauty and wonder of this place.

Hiking to Gljúfráfoss (Gljúfrábúi) Gljúfrábúi waterfall

On our way to the town we decided to be spontaneous and stop as we please. This led to many horses, waterfalls, glaciers, valleys and streams.

We are full of enthusiasm and constantly seeking new adventures but as university students we were on a tight budget. This van was perfect for us. It was our abode for the week, and enabled us to do all our cooking, sleeping, dressing, charging and photo taking on the go.

Hunting waterfalls in Iceland Waterfall chasing in South Iceland Waterfall hunters

Thirsty in Iceland Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Our favorite feature was admittedly the van’s portable, fast Wi-Fi. This allowed us to stream some classic Icelandic tunes while on the road, video call our friends and family and post our pictures to social media straight away. We also loved the van’s bed easily folds up, giving us plenty of storage space and making napping during the day easy.

Our camper van Hire The abandoned airplane in Iceland

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón glacier lake

By the end of trip, we had mastered the art of transforming our vehicle into a fully functioning home in under 3 minutes, it had become a bit of a game for us to turn the car into a cozy bed.

Brúarfoss waterfall Brúarfoss falls

Brúarfoss The waterfall Brúarfoss

We would HIGHLY recommend to anyone wanting to experience Iceland in all its glory that they MUST do it in a camper van. It was the best experience for us and allowed us to tick off many bucket list items and be the envy of all our friends and family back in Australia. If two young, inexperienced Australian girls can conquer South Iceland in just 5 days, then trust us, anyone can. We created so many wonderful memories here and are already itching to go back and relive them!

Happy camper van trip in Iceland


Read more: Kay & Andy’s excellent adVANture

Happy Camping!  #CamperStories

Iceland Travel Guides

South Iceland Travel Guide Hot Springs Travel Guide

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