Jamie & Austen in Iceland
Meet Van Diesel, our trusty camper van that kept us safe from the cold, safe from flies, and safe from Björk. Van Diesel trudged through mud, up mountains, sided up to fosses and lava fields, and most importantly got us from point A to point B (and C, and D, and E…). Here are some of our highlights from the trip, in which Van Diesel acted as our noble camper van. He delivered us safely to a glacier (and glacier lagoons) and a black sand beach. He made our bed cozy at night. He kept us safe from fly invasions, and we were so, so sad to leave him, in the parking lot, with all the other lonely camper vans. But don’t just take our word for it, check it out!
Here’s how we said goodnight to Van Diesel every night, by tucking him and then tucking ourselves in. Van Diesel came totally prepared for us, with sleeping bags, camping equipment, and curtains to block out the 24 hour sun. Here is a video showing us tucking him in and getting ready to sleep at a campsite:
Sleeping in Van Diesel was fabulous. Particularly on the windy and rainy nights, we looked out our windows at those brave souls who were sleeping in tents and wished we could offer them a warm spot to sleep in our trusty camper! The camper van has a heating system and can run when the van is off for those extra chilly nights. But if you are tough enough to take on a night without the heater, the sleeping bags keep you plenty toasty!
We woke up the next morning to fantastic views, which Van Diesel got to enjoy with us. He asked to face the glacier all night, and we obliged. We all ate breakfast together, surrounded by our human and camper van friends. We ate cereal and Van Diesel ate AdBlue. The refrigeration system in the camper allowed us to bring milk and yogurts along on our journey so we were always well fed and ready to go!
We were so sad to leave Van for the day while we went hiking on the Falljökull glacier, but we knew he was happy and safe in the campground. After all, glaciers are no place for a camper van! Van insisted we go to the glacier lagoon, a favorite of his, afterwards. We almost got lost, but lucky us, Mr. Diesel had a WiFi hotspot that we were able to use, making directions a breeze (like the breeze of an Icelandic horse trotting by). The roads in Iceland are extremely well marked and very well maintained. Google maps can tell you exactly where to go, provided you type the name if your destination correctly… which is actually easier said than done (think: Kirkjubæjarklaustur… What even is that “æ” letter in the middle?)
Excited and energized after seeing the glacier’s ice fragments cruise along the bay, we hopped back in Van and cruised (see what we did there?) to check out Gjáin. We made sandwiches, making sure that Van had enough gas to munch on while we were gone, and went to begin our walk to this hidden gem. Why didn’t we heed Mr. Diesel’s warnings about fly season?! We were absolutely bombarded with an OCEAN of flies once we left the warm comfort of Van’s front seat.
Flies flew into our eyes, noses, mouths, shirts, hats, ears, and every other orifice they could find. We immediately jumped back in the car. As usual, Van was right. These bugs were awful, but Van saved us!
All in all, Van Diesel brought us to some pretty epic places. Here are a few of our favorites:
– Hiking at Skógafoss. In Iceland, there are many attractions that are right off the Ring Road, and most of these are absolutely spectacular and well worth a stop, but that’s also where all the tourists are. We felt that the best and most rewarding things we did involved hiking and getting away from the crowds. This hike starts at Skógafoss and continues up along the river. It is part of a multi day trek that goes for 70+ km. We hiked for about 3 hours to reach a footbridge and then we turned around. The hike is stunning! But be sure to bring rain gear and warm clothes. Weather can change in the blink of an eye!
– Falljökull Glacier in Skaftafell National Park. We did a guided glacier hike and hiked way up on the glacier. The weather was ominous as we set out, but later in the day, the sky opened up and we had sunshine! It was absolutely gorgeous.
– Hike to the Reykjadalur Hot River. The start of this hike is right outside a town called Hveragerði that is about 45 minutes from Reykjavik (drive through Hveragerði and continue for about 6km to reach the trail head). The hike took about an hour and brings you to this area with tons of geothermal activity. You can soak in a river that is a perfect warm temperature so bring a swimsuit! There is even a little changing platform. The area is gorgeous! I’d recommend going early. We left for the hike around 11:15am and when we came back around 2pm or so cars were parked down the road for a quarter mile or more.
– Glýmur: this is a hike to a spectacular waterfall (the second tallest in Iceland I believe). The trail head is northeast of Reykjavik and is about an hour’s drive. The hike took us a little over an hour each way. Be warned that there is a semi-sketchy river crossing that no one seems to mention. But it’s totally do-able and fun! We took our boots off and waded across until we reached a log “bridge”. This hike offers stunning views of the waterfall, the valley, and back to the fjord.
– And of course, the stunning black sand beach:
We had quite the adventure during our time there and just hope that Van is bringing this joy to many others since our return.
Jamie & Austen
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