Visiting Iceland by camper
..is the best option, & Rent.is helped us making it one of the best trips in our lives.
If you have chosen to travel to Iceland I have good news for you: you have made a very right choice! Now it’s time for preparing and choosing the best way of doing it, and so I give you my recommendation: there is no better way of getting to know a country Iceland than travelling by camper. That way you can enjoy the wild raw nature of Iceland with ease, deciding where to stop or where to spend the night as you keep going and, the best of all, getting closer to the experience of living in the nature in a country where the nature is simply astonishing.
We are Elena and Cesar, a Spanish couple who decided to visit Iceland travelling by camper. We were lucky enough to chose Rent.is to come along to our trip, but as a Spanish proverb says: Do you get lucky or do you build your luck? ?.
Either we were lucky or we built our luck, we ended up reserving a two people Nissan NV200 camper, which we picked up in Keflavik airport a regular July Icelandic summer day. We had ahead 12 days to discover Iceland and no experience in travelling by camper, so we got positively surprised when we saw that our camper was not only equipped with the basic stuff you need for living: cooking pots and cutlery, chairs and table, etc. but also with a fridge, heating and an extra battery to make such things working (see left photo). I must admit that being the picky way I am, I was a little worried about my pillow, but my concerns we unjustified since I slept amazingly throughout the whole trip. This was not only because our comfortable camper, but also because of the lovely island we were about to discover.
Once the Rent.is guy had explained everything about the camper and its driving very carefully, the first thing we did was drive to Reykjavik. There we walked the center streets and, of course, ate the famous hot dog Bill Clinton once ate, totally recommendable. Reykjavik is not big (compared to cities in Spain) and the atmosphere is nice, specially then, when the World Cup was still on and you could feel it thanks to the big screen to show football matches situated at the main square close to the city hall. After that, we walk around the lovely bay, with great views. Then, we went high up to the top of the Hallgrímskirkja, where you can see Reykjavik from the top. After some hundreds of pictures there ?, we went back to our parking spot just behind the church (free parking place by the way ?). Then we head towards dinner, which we had planned with a couple of friends who, lucky enough, were visiting the country around the same dates. After having a great fish dinner at the port together, we went to Reykjavik campsite so we could spend the night there and digest how much we have already lived in just the first day in Iceland.
The second day we headed to the Golden Circle, that is as touristy as amazing. This is norm in south Iceland but not beyond, let me explain: It’s true that you will find tourists in south Iceland, not many and definitively not as crowded as the Spanish east coast in summer ?, but once you pass Höfn, things change. At the east, north and definitively west part of Iceland you will not pass by many tourists. Anyway, the typical camper and camping tourism attracts nice and friendly travelers, more interested in nature that in made up touristy attractions and so the country becomes even more interesting. Going back to the golden circle, we must say we found Þingvellir great, Geysir incredible and Gullfoss beyond belief. The power of such waterfall left as speechless, and only after we have soaked in Hrunalaug hotspot we could start having a proper conversation about something else that Gullfoss. That other thing we talked a lot about that day was the beautiful purple lupine fields you can find in this area (and mainly all over the country) and that, together with, basically, every landscape you can enjoy while driving, puts Iceland on the top countries to spend a summer (see photos below).
That night we slept at a campsite near Hella where we made use of our great heating system, whose extra battery kept working for the whole night. We know it is too much for around 9°C, but we were getting used to such “summer” temperature… we are Spanish! ?.
The third day started with the thrill of we were going to experience: a hike in Landmannalaugar. We had rented one day trip in such Icelandic high lands and the experience couldn’t have been better. We got picked up at Hella bus stop (where you can park your van easily and for free) and spent the whole day walking over lava fields (already cold of course). We also summited the Brennisteinsalda volcano, where the views from the top are really something not to be missed when in Iceland (see photos below).
A good thing about that hike is that you can end up relaxing in one of the numerous natural hot springs in Iceland, where we could not only relax at 38°C, but also share experiences with our fellow hikers. This day we would have preferred to have rented a 4×4 so we could have stayed in Landmannalaugar for the night (or more than one night), but our 3,5×3,5 van (as I love calling it) was good enough for what we would be visiting around the island in such summer season.
When back in Hella we got the camper and drove towards one of the bests afternoon in our stay in Iceland: Þorsteinslundur waterfall. That afternoon was splendid, the sun was shining and even the birds were singing there at a cozy waterfall with no one but Elena and me. That moment and that waterfall area, surrounded by tress, was the perfect moment for what I had been planning for a long time: asking my girlfriend to marry me. I must admit I am a romantic and the moment was not only one of the best of our lives but also the peak of the trip. She said yes (?) and we documented the moment and the place with our camera with a big smile in our faces (see photos):
That way Þorsteinslundur, Iceland and Rent.is will always accompany us in our future life together ?.
We dedicated our fourth day in the country to visit the southernmost part of the island, and so we enjoyed the impressive Seljalandfoss, the magnificent Skógafoss as we were leaving Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull at our left. I can’t express with words how impressed we felt driving with such vast glacier so close to us… and we hadn’t even started enjoying the views for the real vast glacier in Iceland: Vatnajökull. Afterwards, we headed to Sólheimajökull (you are already getting that we are into ice, aren’t you? ?) and we enjoyed the icy nature of Iceland first there and afterwards with the views of two glacier tongues coming down from the impressive Vatnajökull national park (see photos below).
Do you see the views we had at the parking ready place we stopped for relaxing and lunch? We were starting to realize we had made the right choice of travelling by camper around this country.
The fifth day brought us to a relax hike towards Svartifoss, surrounded by trees, and to a view over the plain around not to be missed. However, the day got even better when we got to the amazing Jökulsárlón (I told you we are into ice ?). The idea that ice is “falling down” from the third biggest glacier in the world, together with the accessibility of the icebergs left us speechless (again). We enjoyed a little too much making pictures that sunny day and so we apologize for the showing off with paired sweaters of the pictures below (“postureo” in Spanish):
After leaving the first wild Seadog we saw in Iceland (yes, I said first), we continued to the east fjords, where we enjoyed driving up and down and along such fjords. The road is full of stunning views of the cliffs and the ocean (see photo below, left). Then, when we left the Ring road and got into the road number 95 towards Egilsstaðir, it became a demanding, and super cool, mountain road that made us enjoy taking its curves and watching the waterfalls all near by the road (see photo below, right). That night passed Hallormsstaðir, or what Icelandic call “the forest” and slept in Egilsstaðir campsite, not far from the local swimming pools we would be enjoying the following day.
The sixth day brought us to Húsavik, the famous port were ships leave in order to enjoy watching whales swim in their habitat. On the way there, we stopped in the famous Game of Thrones spot were Mr. Snow and Miss Ygritte got to enjoy a good time. The whole area surrounded by geothermal activity, with fumaroles all around. Besides, the Mývatn lake, which is close by, makes the landscape even more enjoyable. After a couple of hours enjoying the area, stopping here and there, we continued to Húsavik, were we would try to spot some whales and the famous Puffins, as called in French: the penguin of the north. On the way there we stopped for lunch at a halt ready with a wooden table and chairs (first picture of the post), aside to the main road with stunning views. See photos below that prove so.
We walked around Húsavik port and we slept in Húsavik camping, ready to wake up early for the next day.
The seventh day allowed us to fulfill one of Elena’s dream: to see free whales at their natural habitat! The boat was nice and we enjoyed the trip and the hot chocolate they gave us afterwards. However, the most we enjoyed were the Puffins and, of course, the mike and humpback whales we saw. After leaving Húsavik, we stopped in one of the petrol stations you can find everywhere, and we refilled the water and cleaned a bit our travel companion to keep it going in proper conditions. You can do both things for free in, almost, every petrol station in Iceland, which is a nice thing for travelers like us. That night we slept in the way, at Blönduós campsite, a very nice one close to the river.
The following two days, the eighth and the ninth of our trip, we enjoyed the north of Iceland and the west fjords, were nature is even more raw and impressive than in other areas of the country and where you really feel as an old-time explorer (almost ?). In the Vatnsnes peninsula we got to see a nice pack of Seadogs sunbathing and enjoying the water as we Spaniards do in summer (but with a couple of degrees under the norm in our home country). That moment became the peak of the day, together with the bath inside Hellalaug hotspring, in Flokalundur (see photos below).
Being in a pool with water temperature around 36°C and being able to enjoy the views of the raw north Atlantic Ocean is something you shouldn’t miss if you get as far as the Westfjords. That night we slept at Látrabjarg camping with the intention of enjoying bird watching the following day.
The tenth day of our stay in Iceland started windy, so we decided to drive back to Snæfellsnes peninsula, not before enjoying a nice drive at the most south part of the Westfjords followed by a stop over to soak in another hot spring: Guðrúnarlaug (did I mention we are also into hot springs? ?). After relaxing in such geothermal pool of west Iceland, we continued to Ólafsvik, just at the entrance of Snæfellsjökull national park. We parked in the camping of the village (very recommendable) and enjoyed a nice walk first and, later, we watched the semifinals world-cup match between Croatia and England in a pub. It is a pity it wasn’t a Spain-Iceland match, perhaps next world cup semifinal ?.
The eleventh and twelfth day of our stay in Iceland we enjoyed the west of the island, concretely the cliffs and lighthouses at the lovely Snæfellsnes peninsula national park. After visiting it, we just parked beside the black church of Búðir and had lunch there. Afterwards, we drove all the way down towards Reykjanes peninsula, driving close to the Icelandic fault which divides Europe from America. On the way we enjoyed geothermal areas such as Deildartunguhver or Gunnuhver. You shouldn’t miss such areas, they are impressive! There you can even buy tomatoes and other vegetables they grow in greenhouses thanks to the heat coming out from inside the land. Our day ended with our visit to the famous and totally recommendable Blue Lagoon, were we soaked this time for veeeery long in the amazingly blue waters. The spa is fairly well designed and the stay there was very very relaxing (see photo):
Of course, I didn’t need to mention we also like beer, right?
Next day was our last day in Iceland, and our midday flight only left us time to clean the van (there is photographic proof below) and to bring it back to Rent.is return place, which is conveniently close to the airport. Everything was great in the return process and the guy from Rent.is was as nice as the one the day we came. Then it was time to say goodbye to our beloved travel partner with the feeling that we might get a camper just like our Nissan NV200 after the wedding, so we better start saving …. Are you selling rent.is??
At the airport we couldn’t stop thinking that, after around 3000km and a thousand adventures (one that will bring us to be husband and wife) we can say that Iceland has been one of the most incredible trips of our life and, without any doubts, an experience that we will recommend to all our friends and well-known travelers who love nature in its purest state.
Goodbye Iceland… or is it a see you soon?
Elena & Cesar
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