We joined our cousins on their trip to Iceland late last summer. The planning experience was overwhelming to be honest! No wonder some travelers just choose to live in this small yet magnificent country for an extended period of time! We dove into the idea of driving around the Ring Road and staying at a different camp site everyday. Based on a few suggestions online, we picked a camper van to go around the country, stay at camp sites and cook our own food. Considering we wanted to stick to a budget, this was a great choice. All we needed was a few runs to grocery stores on our way, a camp site to connect to electricity and a gas supply to cook our food. I am extremely glad with how this came to fruition!
Here is an excerpt from my journal on our second day in the country; ” What a surreal experience! We are surrounded by igneous rocks and can visualize from the dents and rock formations, how the lava must have bubbled down to the now smooth black sanded areas. Water cascades down the magnificent mountains through several creaks on the mountains, from melting glaciers.
The late August air is chilly and cuts through the sides of our motor home as it makes its way through the winding road. It’s like taking a geography lesson, only more exciting! The sun will set at 9pm. We have taken multiple detours, mixed our exits and pulled over to sleep our jet lags away on road side pull up areas. ”
As always, here are my top 5 experiences from the trip.
- Travelling in a motor home
It took us a day to get used to managing things in the motor van. After a night into finding a campsite, cooking and washing vessels at the public sinks at the camp sites, filling up water, gassing the van the first time, setting up our fold-able beds, working the heat at night and waking up to a beautiful landscape, we were ready for this adventure.
The greatest advantage of being in a motor home and not driving to a hotel every night was the flexibility our day offered with respect to spending as many hours as we wanted at every location, beautiful views every morning, and an extremely glorified camping experience.
- The varied landscapes across the country
The western Icelandic rock formations and the puffin expeditions require an all wheel drive to be able to commute the F-roads. Apart from this, we did get to see the varied landscapes in Iceland, right from the pink beach in the west, to sulfur deposits and geysers in the north, the majestic mountains with their cascading waters and streams throughout the country, huge farms with several sheep grazing on every ounce of land they could find, the Icelandic turf homes, the black sand beaches to the east, floating glaciers to the south and of course, the quaint towns of Akureyri, Hofn and Reykjavik.
- Soaking in the thermal pools
This probably should be listed as my number 1! Our first natural heat speing experience was at Azores and we hoped for a similar experience. We were grateful for the incomparable experience that this island offered us, leaving us to appreciate the beauty of both these islands.
While the Blue Lagoon experience was made enjoyable with the silicon face masks, the stunning turquoise blue of the water and the warmth (I mean, I am not complaining!), every one of the other thermal pools was wonderful after a long day spent in the van. Our favorite was Fluidir!
- Foss. The waterfalls
Every one of the waterfalls we stopped at was distinct! While it is extremely hard to rank them, we each had our favorite (mine being Godafoss). The myths and history that this small European island has just makes the experience more special.
- Hike up to view the glacier tongue
As we reached southern Iceland, we decided to take a glacier walk with a touring group. Unfortunately for us, the National wind advisories for two consecutive days ended up with a tour cancellation. While some of these activities is definitely a must-do for the next time, we didn’t fret over this. That night spent in the camper van was the scariest and most adventurous night of my life! The wind lashed the entire night, leaving the van swaying wildly from side to side.
We hiked up to see the Svartifoss and continued on to get a view of the glacier tongue, and am I glad that we at least got to do this!
The Vik Beach is a worthy mention, and so is the last day spent in a nice BnB before our flight out. :p
The Golden Circle was wonderful , and I can see why some people choose to spend 4 days in Iceland and do justice to this circle. All the same, I highly recommend going around the Ring Road.