After a hop, skip, and a jump from the Faroe Islands –> Copenhagen –> Dublin –> Iceland, I was finally in the last country I would tour on this almost 40 day long trip. This time to meet up with my great friend Laura to do some more #vanlife and now instead of traveling to all the different national parks, we would be attempting the ring road in Iceland! There are 1,332 km on the Iceland ring road and looking at our options, the best way to do it was in a van.
Iceland Ring Road!
There are many reasons for this but the biggest reason was that I did not want to be held back. With a van you can drive as long as you want as far as you want, and stop wherever you want. For Iceland, I can highly recommend it! It makes the most sense. All the towns are small but there things to do everywhere so keeping your home with you allows you optimal freedom while traveling. This is why we chose the Happy Campers Camper Vans. The cost of renting the van for 6 nights 7 days was $846.47. Split in 2 it cost each of us $423 per person. WAYY cheaper then getting a hotel in every town we stayed.
But first, before I get into all of this, I was spending a full day in Iceland before Laura would arrive, so we will get to the van information in just a minute.
First, Let’s say hiiiii to these guys as I was walking from the bus stop to town. P.S. the bus stop is in the middle of everything and nothing, they contract out separate smaller buses to drop people off at exact locations. I was very stubborn and walked all the way from the bus stop to my hostel with over 50 pounds between my 2 backpacks. It was well over a mile by the time I got there. I wouldn’t recommend it. Along the way I took many breaks and was accompanied by swans and ducks who thought I had food for them.
This is Kex hostel, which was extremely eclectic and was recommended to me by a friend. At night, there was a full on concert over by the bookshelves and it was pretty rad.
As far as commodities, everything is expensive in Iceland. For a burger with no side whatsoever it was $26 at the hostel. My trip to Iceland was essentially free with WOW air’s stopover service and I just kind of looked at it that way and kept on keepin on. I’ll tell you how we mitigated this for our #vanlife trip.
I was still hungry later in the evening after drinking and watching the concert and I saw Domino’s just across the street so I looked it up online. Yep, $29 for dominos. Nevermind. haha.
The next day I walked around town and had an exceptional lunch. Even realized one of the most prolific and profound things of the entire day.. that my favorite band was doing to be holding a concert in Iceland the night before we flew home in Rekjavik at the Icelandic Airways Festival. As in I literally saw it posted on a bar window and had no knowledge prior. So I spent 3 hours in the afternoon at a coffee shop trying to get tickets and DID! From the official site. Holy shit balls. The big reveal is at the end but if you know me then you probably already know who it is 😉
All of the food in Iceland was delicious, so although you are paying alot of money you won’t be disappointed. This was one of my favorite meals that I bought in Rekjavik and it was supposed to be a seafood stew. It was delightfully good.
That night I met Laura at a hotel near the airport and she and I were picked up the next morning to get our van!!
I had done quite a bit of research for this trip and found a 5% discount code on Jeannie’s blog for Happy Campers vans and definitely used it when I was booking our camper van. I linked her page if you want to take a look because it is her code. In addition, when Laura and I lived in a van to travel the national parks, Escape Campervans are built into Ford Escapes, which left plenty of room for everyone.
For Happy Camper vans, even though it said on their website that the smaller one fit 2 people, it was a very tight squeeze. We both agreed that had we known how small it was we would have paid for the next step up that had more room in it. As most of the cars in Europe these are also all manuals, and as I told you in my Faroe Islands post I was just learning so Laura had to do much of the driving on our trip. They handed us a map with all the available off season camp sites and equipped with a really nice laminated map I had bought off Amazon before the trip, we headed out.
After picking up our van we stopped at a gas station for coffee, and walked over to the Bonus grocery store for groceries. Here’s a tip, most of the groceries were not outrageously priced. In fact, they were just a little bit more expensive then regular groceries. We spent about $140 on groceries ($70 / person) for the week and it was more than plenty of food! In fact we donated a bunch of stuff to the camper van place for others to borrow and use.
After we sorted the groceries and got everything situated, we were off! Heading out of Rekjavik and onto the ring road, headed South. If you love nature, beauty, and clean fresh cold air, then Iceland is the place for you!
It isn’t long before you can see your first waterfall. Of course we made it a habit to stop at every waterfall we passed by. It never gets old. You can walk behind this one!
Not even 2 hours into our trip and this is what we encountered? More please!
Then, we decided to follow a path down the way to see what was there.
Laura took this photo, while I posed as the human for scale.
After hiking up all the steps to the top of this waterfall, we decided to camp right there for the night, which brings me to our best found secret. NATURAL HOT SPRINGS. I am telling you, find them, stop often. The map shows a little man swimming. Some of them are up hillsides. We attempted one on an F-road which you are not supposed to drive down in these rentals, Shhh!
The town right next to this waterfall had one and we drove up and sat in the outdoor “hot tubs” made from spring water until we were too warm, took showers and stayed cozy for bed. Long day of Driving. Stop at hot springs. Soak. Rinse. Repeat. The greatest equation you need to know for a trip. Hot springs in Iceland are like going to the grocery store in a small town just to spend 2 hours socializing (my mother!). It’s where the town hangs out, where you can get all the gouge, and talk to the locals.
Plus it was so relaxing and rejuvinating after long days of hiking and trying to stay warm in the cold weather. It was the perfect end to every evening.
And if natural hot springs were the perfect end to every evening… then waking up to BACON was the perfect start to every morning. But seriously, I rarely ever eat bacon outside of a van but somehow it just seems like the perfect thing to start the day with when doing that #vanlife thing.
On our way over ot Vic, I noticed a thing on the map that said crash site of a U.S.Military plane and we were like veneer right. We parked and just started hiking down the black sand beach to the coast to the ruins of the aircraft. The crash occurred on November 24, 1973 after the Douglas Super DC-3 experienced extreme icing and had to crash land. All 3 of the crew members survived, but the fuselage was abandoned on the beach. Now you can hike to it, AND IT WAS AWESOME.
The day was spectacular enough for a few AWESOME photos, and if the double rainbow at the start of the walk wasn’t enough then I don’t know what is.
Then we were zipping down the road again, this time to beat sunset.
Brought the RUMPL blanket up with me, which I absolutely love. If you want to travel with a blanket but do not want it to be too bulky and you do not need a sleeping bag, I can definitely suggest taking a look at rumpl. Best of all the worlds. Can get very dirty and easily be cleaned. Fits in the sleeping bag pouch on my backpack with room to spare for other items. I absolutely love this blanket!
As we walked back to the van the sun started to dip out of range. At the bottom, where the van was parked, we made dinner and watched the sunset. Then we continued on until we reached the next town with hot springs so we could warm up because the nights were quite freezing in Iceland.
The next morning we were up early as usual with bacon and tea and then we zipped on down the highway to…
Wow! This is not even one of the best kept glacier secrets of Iceland as it is right off the ring road, and yet it is a magnificent landscape.
I snapped way to many photos here because even if you changed the angle of the camera slightly, every shot was spectacular.
With the mountains cape, and the lighter blue of ice soaking in the water. The air was so fresh, clear, and frigid.
On this angle, you can see that not all of the mountains were covered in snow, which adds even another layer to the complexity of the snow capped mountains, the dirt, the blue glacier of Ince in the water, and the black and white colors of dirty ice sitting in the water.
Laura was thinking about taking a quick dip…!
I was thinking I would stay on dry land!! This is one of the last few snapped of my now retired hiking boots. I hate to see them go, but alas, they smelled very bad and were falling apart.
After a few more snaps we were zipping off down the road looking for more iconic sites.
We drove a lot this day. To about the Curve of the Southern ring road to the Eastern part and then we actually decided to head back toward Reykjavik and drive the Western Peninsula and see some of the landscape over there. We had been in Iceland for 4 days already and there was no glimpse of the Northern Lights. An event that continues to allude me. After the majority of the day driving, we found a spot to camp and wearing our Star Wars socks, decided to turn in early, bundle up, watch a movie, and head to bed.
And with this Icelandic Church I will leave you because this post has gotten quite long already. In the Next post I will tell you about our trek around the Western Peninsula, our continued search for the Northern Lights, and our personal trip to the sites on the Golden Circle Tour.
This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.