Trip around Iceland with Rent.is
Day 1 – The Golden Circle
We, Tali and Stina, picked the camper up at the Reykjavik office, a Renault Kangoo Camper. Although worrying about all the horror stories we heard, we have been advised it is the best way, also regarding the insurance and how to drive in Iceland. With a nice n’cozy car, we now could start our travel around Iceland. Even though we have been or will be living in this beautiful country, some plain tourism attractions were a must, so we followed the main stream of rental cars around the Golden Circle. But before that, we stopped on top of a hill near to a small church for a picnic with an already impressive view and we had just left Reykjavik. What would be waiting for us, once we would really enter the countryside?
Þingvellir National park was our first stop. High stone formations next to wide flat areas and a big lake complex. Shelter and water, everything one needs to start the Icelandic parliament Alþingi. No surprise that it is the oldest existing parliament of the world, they just had the place with the best view. From there we moved on to Geysir, where a lot of people were standing around basically nothing, but that nothing started steaming from the earth before and out of nothing many meters high fountain erupted from the ground and was almost as quick gone as it came, which still was quite impressive, even cooler was the next eruption with two fountains. Near Gullfoss we actually got wet, because the is so much water not falling, as it is supposed to be at one of Iceland’s biggest and most impressive waterfalls, but is whirling through the air.
After so much excitement, we enjoyed the silence around the church Skálholt, it´s a relatively big white church with a black roof somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Pretty idyllic. The last stop of the tour was the volcanic crater Kerið, which was, regarding to color, the opposite of the church before. A turquoise lake in the bottom of a green, brown and red crater, unbelievably colorful. We were pretty sure, we had found water on the mars, disappointed, as we found out it was not, although space vehicles are tested on special ground conditions in Iceland. For the very first night we stayed in Sellfoss then to be at Road No. 1 to start our real road trip right in the morning.
Day 2 – Sólheimasandur
Passing Eyjafjallajökull (what part of AY-uh-fyat-luh-YOE-kuutl-uh didn´t you understand?!?!), which we couldn’t see, our way took us to Seljalandsfoss, where we got a little wet again, because it is a waterfall where you can get behind. That is pretty cool, because you climb up and down the cave behind it an can walk all around the falling stream. That made the next stop Skógafoss, a waterfall as well, almost unattractive. Almost. Ten minutes on the Ring road east of that by Sólheimasandur, you´ll find a parking lot with nothing, that it could lead to, but if you follow a path on foot for around half an hour, you´ll get to the old Douglas Super DC-3. The plane wreck, that went down there 1973 and has barely been touched since. Following road 1 we turned right to Dýrhólaey, the most southernmost tip of Iceland surrounded by black beaches with gigantic rock formations where you, if you´re lucky enough, can spot nesting Puffins. From there it is just a short trip to Vík, the most rainy tip of Iceland where it was, surprise, raining like the earth was supposed to drown, but we still stayed there.
Day 3 – Fjaðrárgljúfur – Jökulsárlón
Next surprise: When we woke up, the sun was shining from a cloudless sky and it wasn’t even windy, so we took a morning walk down the black beach to see the stone triangles in the ocean. As well as we played the floor is lava near the beach and since that beach consists of lava stone, that was the closest we ever will get to that game. A little more inland is the Fjaðrárgljúfur (I did not understand that one either) Canyon, a little hidden, but perfect for a picnic break. Pretty soon after that we could spot the glacier Vatnajökull of which small parts break off and are washed through lagoons into the ocean. The smaller one is Breidarlón which is not less amazing than the bigger Jökulsarlón, shiny and icy. But since it was a little to cold there for swimming, we did that in the swimming pool in Höfn, relaxing in the hotpot.
Day 4 – Driving North
Also on Thursday, Iceland showed itself from the best side of weather conditions, which we were grateful for, because the Eastfjords are a beautiful scene of landscape and it would have been terrible not to see that through rain. But although they are breath taking, there is not too much to do and since we had already three days out of seven just in the south, we had one day with more driving, than stopping, and made it from Höfn over the serpentine roads of death to Egilsstaðir and all the way to Mývatn.
There is so little population in the east, that even a part of the main road of Iceland is just graveled and that in smallest turns up over mountain passes, it was a thrilling adventure, or more thrilling than adventurous. We actually wanted to see the most powerful waterfall of Europe, Dettifoss, but the weather was so bad, that we skipped that and had a nice cup of coffee at Grimsstaðir. At Mývatn we took a look at Krafla and the Námafjall fields, quite smelly of eggs gone bad, but still interesting how it is bubbling out of the earth. For the night we found a cozy campsite with running water and a hot shower. So much fun it is, to sleep in a Camper van, you are depending on those things, and it was nice not to have to brush your teeth just somewhere.
Day 5 – Laufás
Across from Akureyri on the other side of the fjord, half way to Grenivik you can visit of the very old traditional turf farm houses at Laufás. It is unbelievable that the Icelandic people have been living in those until the middle of the last century. Meter thick turf walls, dark, narrow hallways, small rooms and simple interior. More impressive is, how quick Iceland grew to a modern country. But these houses still had their own charm and are interesting to look at. In Akureyri we did a little window shopping and a little real shopping. North Iceland has its own rough beauty and the road took us over at least three more highlands, before it follows the coast line. In Iceland basically anything has to follow the weather, the nature or the landscape and so does the road, but we would experience that tomorrow again.
Day 6 – Westfjords
The actual plan had been to stay somewhere around the beginning of the Westfjords, but since it wasn’t that late when we actually wanted to stop, we have made it to Hólmavík, from there we could set off to see the real Westfjords. On the way to Ísafjörður the road has to follow the coastline along each single fjord. So you’re driving with the fjords on one hand and the high, high mountains on the other hand. The fjords are like a pot and just the cover is missing. We’ve never had so much space around us feeling so evaporated at the same time and the mountains are so high, that the shade covers parts of the fjord or block out the sun totally for weeks in winter. Ísafjörður is certainly a lovely town to live in, but whether it makes up for the lack of sunlight in winter is not certain. We took a look from the top on one of the mountains from a viewpoint north of Bolungarvik, where you are standing on a cliff, 625 meters over the sea. Nothing for people with fear of heights or weak nerves, especially because you again have to follow a small curved graveled road, but the view is absolutely worth it.
Day 7 – Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Now we had to make it back all the way through the fjords again, but instead of heading for Reykjavik directly, we wanted to go more west, so we followed the wet gravel roads (if we had parked the car just somewhere, we could have been mistaken for a rock, so dirty was it, but clever as the Icelanders are, they have car washing stations at most of the gas stations, they know they need it. Anyways. to Stykkishólmur, a little fishing village on the front legs, if you see Iceland as a lying sheep, as the Icelanders make you believe. It has a small harbor with an even smaller orange lighthouse on top of some cliffs, that protect the harbor from the really big ocean waves. There has been living sheep on top of that cliffs, now basically tourists live there. I have to admit, Stykkishólmur has a lot of cute cafés, so it’s a nice place to be at. But we had to leave it in the evening, at least make it to Borganes, where we stayed at the small campsite beside the lake, where the caretakers just come around and knock on the door to collect the fee.
Read more: Snæfellsnes Travel Guide
Day 8 – Reykjavík
Amazed, speechless, impressed by all the impressions, landscape, views and beauty of rough Iceland, we had to start early, because today we had to drop off the camper. So we decided, not to take the tunnel, but go around the fjord Hvalfjörður and the half an hour that you need more going that way, is worth the view. In Reykjavik we filled the camper van, searched every little corner for our stuff, that we had spread everywhere, packed and said good bye to our travel mate from the last week, he did such a good job of carrying us around the whole island.
All in all
…we had a great travel and an adventure by living in a camper for a week. It´s like camping, but thanks to the heater, that sounds like a dragon, if you’re outside the car, and the bed way more comfortable. Since you basically can stand anywhere in Iceland, we could wake up to the nicest views and just start the day. Iceland showed itself from its best side regarding the weather. Although the Icelanders themselves are cursing about the hell a lot of tourists, you anywhere can get a clear shot without them of any attraction. And anyone who can live on Bananas, bread, packaged cheese and gas station coffee should definitely travel Iceland this way!
Read more: Back to Iceland
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