Southern Iceland In Seven Days
From lava fields to glacier rivers and everything in between, we still can’t say we saw it all.
Our Journey began in the Toronto Pearson Airport, with our layers piled on, we were ready to face the chills of Iceland. Fast forward some 8 hours and we land in Keflavik, Iceland, groggy eyed, we arrived at 5am without a clue in the world where we were going and how we were going to get there. Our first step outside foreshadowed how the rest of our week would play out, as far as the weather goes… incredibly windy. Once we flagged down a taxi, we were off to the nearest hotel when the driver informed us of a major incoming storm- Great! This new information and having been awake for far too many hours had our morale pretty low, but nothing a good sleep wouldn’t shake off.
Day 2: A friendly driver picks us up at our hotel to get our camper van– which will be our home for the rest of the week. The helpful staff showed us to our new home and explained how everything worked. And now the adventure begins! Our first stop? Þingvellir national park, driving past Reykjavik we head up toward Mosfellsdalur passing an open ‘road closed’ gate. Coming from Canada, I instantly knew this road had the potential of becoming very dangerous, but hey, it was open, right? About five minutes into the drive we get hit by a blizzard but cautiously proceed to somewhere safe. We then decided to turn back and headed to Reykjavik, where we explored the downtown district; drank a few beers and ate dinner at Svarta Kaffið: where soup is served in a bread bowl. (Fast service, delicious soup and decently priced.)
Day 3: We decide we are in need of some relaxation, so we set out to find Reykjadalur hot springs. We arrive at the beautiful geothermal river and see steam rising from many of the mountains crevices and cracks. Preparing ourselves for a windy and rainy hike, we set out determined to find the first hot springs that Iceland has to offer. This hike does not end in success, after a 45 minute hike, a storm rolls in and we decide to call it quits and head back to the safety of the camper van. Although we failed to reach the hot spring, it was a beautiful hike with many geothermal potholes and boiling springs along the way.
But, we are still determined to bathe in a hot spring today, so we set out to find Hrunalaug. This adorable hidden gem was easily one of the highlights of our trip, with its mossy shelter and perfect temperature. Next, we head back to the Ring road and begin chasing waterfalls until the sun goes down. Being able to make dinner with the supplies in our camper van was very convenient, as we were travelling on a budget. We decided to stick to making pasta most nights, as it is a cheap and easy meal.
Day 4: Our first stop today was the DC plane, a twisted wreckage sitting on the black beaches of Sólheimasandur. A deceivingly long and windy walk, but well worth the photo opportunities. Next comes Dyrhólaey peninsula, a majestic ocean view with black sand beaches, strong ocean waves and massive volcanic rocks… definitely gives off those Game of Thrones vibes. Our last adventure of the day was Fjaðrárgljúfur, we watch the sunset over the vibrant mossy canyon. Tonight’s dinner is an attempt on mushroom soup, made from milk, frozen mushroom mix and cheese wiz (wouldn’t recommend!)
Day 5: We begin our day the same as every other day- with a delicious peanut butter and jam sandwich, a consistent meal and a guaranteed success! Today consisted of a lot of driving and a lot of Icelandic horses. Our first of two stops is Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon- a beautiful blue lake with plenty of glacier icebergs and seals! We spent a few hours here peacefully watching the seals (it was our first moment without intense winds).
We passed lava fields, horse pastures, waterfalls and black deserts on our way to Seljavallalaug hot spring. It was a short hike there, yet one of the most beautiful places we’ve seen. Once we reached this hot spring we decided it wasn’t quite warm enough for us in this -10 degree weather and 100 km/hour winds. On our drive back toward Reykjavik we stopped at a few pastures to pet the friendly horses, I had an entire herd follow me at one point! I instantly became fascinated in these beautiful affectionate creatures, so I used our camper van’s WiFi to do some research. I came upon the heart warming story of a typical Icelandic horses life- Half tame, half wild. These horses are roundup in the fall and brought in to farms for the winter, for agriculture and tourism purposes. They are released back into the highlands for the summertime, where they live freely and raise their foal. When it comes time to round up the horses, the farmers are able to identify their horses by sight.
Day 6: Another long day of driving, and our goal is Snæfellsnes peninsula where our first adventure of the day is Landbrotalaug hot springs; an intimate little hot springs in the middle of nowhere. This was the perfect temperature for the chilled winds we were experiencing that day, but with other people waiting, our visit didn’t last long. I jumped out of the hot spring and raced back to the camper van, running through a creek in my bare feet and bathing suit, I sank thigh deep into quicksand. One of the scariest moments of the trip, but I pulled myself out and raced back to the camper van where I could blast the heat and clean/dry myself off. Next we visit the picturesque Búðir black church, perfect for a little photo op. And as per usual, we make multiple stops along the way to photograph various mountains, waterfalls and the beloved horses.
Day 7: That night was extremely windy so we didn’t sleep to much. At around 6am we decided to drive out to the golden beach of Skarðsvík to watch the sunrise. Once arriving we still had a few hours of darkness, but I accidentally fell asleep and slept through the sunrise! Our next stop is Kirkjufell Mountain, one of our long awaited stops. This mountain was magnificent especially with the waterfalls in front to add to the beauty. Next adventure was a sad attempt at whale watching from the shore, after a short period we came to the realization that we do not have the patience or attention span for this activity! So we sadly headed back to Reykjavik to prepare ourselves for our flight home tomorrow morning.
The camper van acted as a mobile safe place, that went wherever we did. Through the rough weather we experienced it was extremely convenient that we constantly had our ‘home’ not far away. This rental is perfect for people that like the nomadic lifestyle and don’t mind the few alterations this lifestyle includes. The heat, WiFi and cooking appliances that were supplied in the camper van were life savers that made traveling in Iceland, easy, affordable, and comfortable.
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