South Iceland in 7 Days in a Camper Van
Arrival: A series of over-surprising discoveries
Yes! Iceland is about surprise discoveries: and the first thing to find out (or better say to let yourself emerge in is the fantastic and colorful scenery of its nature (from green to yellow to black to blue in matter of a couple of kilometers)
First stop: the beautiful Blue lagoon
Blue lagoon is a body of waste water!!!
DON’T let this turn your desire off! It’s still a must see! And even knowing this made us more eager to discover it: after all being super-efficient and going green is a part of Icelandic culture (there is no kidding with a country that produces 100% of its energy from = clean resources).
You’ll leave it with the soft feeling of the complimentary no-limit silica mask and you’ll enjoy the rain, the fog, the cold and the snow while in this beautiful and relaxing blue body of water.
And Iceland is super safe: you would feel it as you get there
2nd stop: Lively Reykjavik
We camped in the Reykjavik for the first night (you’ll soon will see that it was not the only night sleeping here).
City was alive and full of colors despite the cold of early December and on top of that you could live and breathe Christmas with locals doing their shopping alongside the diverse visitors from four corners of the world
Golden Circle: Anyways it’s hard to miss
It’s hard to miss he attractions you’ll find them just by looking for this sign alongside the road you’re driving (we had a couple of spots and the general intention to visit the Golden circle and south Iceland and then just let the road to take us and experienced frequent stops for any attraction or beautiful scene ahead of us (that part of the Icelandic pledge referring to safe stops in mind for sure)
3rd stop: Kerid (Kerið) crater
This frozen silver gem was not in our plan , but thanks to the Iceland attraction sign it showed itself to us and here we are enjoying its amazingly small beauty and we also enjoyed trecking the ring trail around it.
Here was the first occasion that we realized how useful the crampons that we have bought exclusively for this trip will be (insisting on exclusively as we forgot them in our camper van at the end of the trip; Rent.is guys thanks for collecting them and we’ll be happy if anyone who is visiting Iceland in winter and forgot to bring one would use them)
4th stop: Faxi waterfall
This was another random finding for us: a wide, wild and wonderful waterfall that shares its roar with every passenger who takes the time and spares him a stop.
On the ground everywhere we could see the hot water comes out of the earth, and steam surrounded us. It really looked like being on another planet. There were small rivers of boiling water on our way and lots of geysers and hot pools in that area. We then saw the group of people lining up with their cameras/cellphones on hand waiting for hot springs. It repeated every about 5 minutes and the more you were watching the more you had the desire to wait for the next, even under the rain, even in the cold. As it was completely natural, the timing between each eruption was different, so as the power and the height of it.
6th stop: Gullfoss falls
Our cold and soaked yet attractive experience at this excellent multi-layer waterfall.
You can approach these beauties from two fronts: either park your car at the waterfall parking lot , visit the lower waterfall then climb the stairs and complete your sight-seeing from the above, there is a tourist center on the higher level, so the second option is to start from the higher level and then go down.
We ended up our second day by spending the night at the Úthlið campsite. It has a swimming pool (was not operational during our winter-time visit) but the showers and other facilities of the swimming pool were up and running for the campers.
South; The superb south
We woke up in a heaven: the camp was on the top of this gorgeous hill which gave us the remarkable sense of readiness for the rest of the trip. And there we headed towards the south: destination Vik or even beyond (it happend to be much beyond that)
7th stop: Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi falls
This was just astonishing, we got there on a bright sunny day, still cold given the early december weather, and we enjoyed the scenery and the magnificence of this natural attraction, you can poke around, climb the stairs, and even go behind this waterfall inside a natural cave and enjoy the other-side view; during the season we have visited it was icy and again the crampons came very handy (in fact we couldn’t enjoy this trip, and precisely, this attraction without them).
8th stop: Skógafoss falls
We decided to climb up the stairs to heaven first: still clear skies but don’t forget it’s south so it’s windy a kind of wind that really takes you with it but the nature is so breathtaking that we really wanted to be gone with the wind; Here we are talking about the astonishing river with lots of waterfalls and vast meadows.
We arrived in Vik to visit some attractions, but due to rushing sunset, we decided to change the plan and drive to glaciers.
So we just went to the beach and listened to waves and then continued our drive. We knew there is an open campsite near glacier, but we were also looking around to see if we can find another place to stay the night. We found a place and jumped down to see if their camp is open which was not but they were a lovely couple and they offered us a delicious homemade apricot cake. We continued the drive and the full moon had lightened everywhere. We were happy to see the full moon but we also thought if with this moon we will be finally able to see Northern lights. We had see in the forecast site that on Monday the chance to see lights is high. So we decided to look for it in some time between sunset and moon-rise, so we checked the exact timing.
When we reached the campsite we saw a significant area all white not being sure what’s that, so mesmerized with the calming mood of that unknown white river we went off to sleep.
When we woke up early in the morning, and the first thing I checked was that that white river was actually the edge of the Vatnajökull glacier. We started our way to the beautiful Svartifoss waterfall, and guess what: it became our favorite waterfall among all those we saw in Iceland: it was like a gem surrounded by crystal ice and hexagonal lava rocks. We even had the chance to get a bit closer to it by having a short walk on tick layers of ice shaped on the surface of the river.
If ever you went there don’t miss the hiking path on the opposite side of the river which leads to an amazingly green and fresh looking plateau with a great walking path.
We came back to the campsite around noon, rejuiced with some warm drinks and started our way to the edge of glaciers. You can always opt out to get a glacier walk tour, but as you can see in the pictures, you can still have a close encounter with those blue beauties even if you only make it to their edge.
After a nice walk on a frozen lake and having an unforgettable time touching the blue pieces of old ice, we said our farewell to the glaciers and made our way back to Vik.
The Skaftafell campsite was just incredible and it was entirely operational given the season we visited there.
Our concern was that based we wanted to stay the night at Vik and based on what we read online the campsite in Vik is closed during the wintertime, but we were sure there would be a solution and yes it was.
We drove back to Vik and we went directly to the Skaftfellingur museum. Not that we have planned ahead of time to do so, but Vik is such a cute small place that you’ll hardly miss anything there. The experience was great and we enjoyed every small piece of objects representing culture and traditions of hardworking southern Iceland people. Great job keeping bringing back the ship to the town!
We asked the tourist center in front of the museum about the most proper place to spend the night in our camper van and the guide told us to spend the night on the campground even if it’s closed and when we checked on it we were positively surprised: it was open! The guy on the campsite told us that they have a couple of visitors each night and they have decided to keep re-open the campground for the time being. We went for a night visit of the iconic Vik and we also treated ourselves with a great campsite cooked steak and wine dinner!
Black sand beach, Reynisfjara Beach and finally Dyrhólaey was our planned destinations of the day: it was a windy day (no surprise in south Iceland) and we have genuinely enjoyed the great wave crushes on the Black Beach. Reynisfjara beach provided us with a breathtaking view of the famous Reynisdrangar (substantial rocky stacks looking down to you while standing off the shoreline).
We arrived to the top of the ridge where the Dýrhólaey lighthouse is located in plain foggy situation so we couldn’t see almost anything. The famous advise “if you don’t like the weather in Iceland wait for ten minutes” came pretty handy. In even less than ten minutes the sky was so clear that we could see the best view one could have from the edge of that great rock: seabirds surfing the wind and resting in their nests, ocean and it’s tidy waves and a deep blue sky in the background. Don’t miss the shots we’ve got from the seagulls in our video.
To top-up our day we’ve decided to check into a geothermal-heated swimming pool and what could we find better than the Laugaskarð Swimming Pool in Hveragerði town. The natural super-hot sauna and the wonderful hot tubs kept us there for a good three hours.
We drove back to Reykjavik and spend the night there.
Northern lights, finallyyyy
This was our last full-day and we decided to go for a day-trip towards the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, without the real intention to visit it all- or to even get there, and yes! What’s more natural compared to not getting somewhere?! Add to this recipe the magical attraction of a gem called Akranes: this amazingly beautiful port town with its kind and calm people, delicious fish and gorgeous swimming pool attracted us like a magnet and kept us there for a whole day. We started with the lighthouse and to be honest, the way the guide there explained the other attractions of the city made us think twice our, not that firm, plan and decide to give Akranes a more serious shot.
After checking on the the old rusty ship, we treated ourselves with some cod fish fried on our camper stove and headed out of the town for our first Northern light hunt as it was our first and last chance since it was the first clear sky night and our last night in Iceland. It was a cold night and we started ding shifts out of the camper to watch the sky for the lights. And in a bit more than thirty minutes: here they were: those mesmerizing, slow dance started from our western horizon and soon spread in every corner of the sky. No words can describe the magnitude of their beauty and the degree of our gratitude for having the chance to add this unforgettable experience as the capstone of our trip.
We should have brought back the camper van early in the morning based on the contract but our friendly agent at rent.is provided us the possibility to keep the car until noon so we got the time to have a nice goodbye walk in Reykjavik before bringing back the van and heading to the airport.
We will never forget the flabbergasting time we had in Iceland and the uniqueness of freely discovering different corners of Iceland’s wild nature on a lovely tiny camper van.
Read more: The Perfect drive around Iceland
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