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  • tiffanypriscilla15

Iceland

The land of Fire and Ice, Viking haven, and a true wonder of the world. Iceland is a country that restores your faith in humanity. From the kindness and of it's people to the natural wonders that make time stop. Iceland is a place you must see in this lifetime. It is rich with history and you can feel the ancient unearthed energies as you peruse her landscapes. A land of exploration and conquer. I have never felt so connected to the world like I did here. Keep reading on how my cousin and I explored this vast country.

First and foremost Iceland is f****** cold. Its right on the Artic Circle and one of her islands is in the Artic Circle. You need to be prepared and layer, layer, and when you think you are done, layer some more. I recommend ski pants, thermal leggings, thermal long sleeve shirts, fleece ups, turtlenecks or heavy scarfs, a polar jacket that has a hood with heat insulation and is water resistant, hiking boots that are both water, mud, and snow resistant, gloves, wool socks, a BUFF (second scarf covering your nose and half of face), and a beanie. If you are not staying in a hotel and you are going to go around in a Campervan like we did, make sure you have fleece pj's and wool socks.

Okay now lets get down to the nitty gritty on how to do this magical island. A CAMPERVAN. Yes the all caps is intentional and yes I am screaming it at you. Not only are hotels f******* expensive there but its not worth it! A campervan doubles as your car and hotel and you can cook in it. Well most companies have a kitchenette in it. My cousin and I did ours through Happy Campers:



Great company and on the way from the airport to Blue Lagoon. We did the 4x4. This sleeps two and fits 4 luggage. Now 4 is a stretch. Keep in mind you will need to store food too so if you don't have room after your luggage you need to store in the kitchen area and fridge which isn't very big. We manage to fit everything except the cases of water (they don't sell galloons in Iceland at least not that we found). For two people it works but just watch the luggage.

You do have a heater in the van but its powered by 12 hours of driving. We never went cold in the night but that is because we did drive long distances daily. Make sure you bring a mat to stretch outside the van. You have blankets and essentials. I think tables and chairs are included if you want to eat outside but it may have been extra. The coffee presser is weird for basic Americans like us so if you aren't used to French press be prepped to buy coffee daily or get instant. We never washed dishes in the sink. Its far too small. Each campsite has a big sink or a few that you can wash in. Blankets and pillows are included too. It really is a cute van and great way to experience van life in another country.

For food shopping, its going to be expensive wherever you go because well...Iceland. Everything has to be imported, similar to Hawaii so just buy what you need and they don't have farmers markets to my knowledge. A lot of the places we saw for food were called Kronan. I personally didn't see any other grocery store except Costco. Also, we had to buy a third blanket because the company only allows two per person. We were lucky and found some on sale at Costco but bring a throw blanket if you can fit it.


Now I am going to break down need to go to places and campsites I recommend. Before I do that I am going to give a brief overview of campsites overall in Iceland:


Campsites (TJALDSTÆÐI)

This is the name for campsite in Icelandic and you easily see signs for them all over the country. If you don't reserve in advanced you will easily find a place to stay. Now some for the more popular ones, they require booking in advance. Example, the Reykjavik campsite requires advanced reservation as spots fill quickly. They have both a campervan and tent side. Also if you have an RV and require electric hook up, it may be beneficial to look up campsites in advance to ensure they have this. Most of the places we went to did but I cant speak for all of them. Also, make sure your campsite of choice is open at the time you go. We went in September which is not considered winter yet but we were the last ones to stay there because they were going to shut down for winter early since the weather wasn't the best. Also some of the campsites you can park in and just pay the next morning. They don't have a way of tracking this so its honor system. Campfires are not a thing at the campsites either so don't buy stuff for it. I think one campsite had a spot but it was too cold.

The bathroom water here smells like sulfur since it comes from the geo power plant. Not to worry though, somehow your hair and body wont stink of it but wanted to give a heads up.

Places to see:

Thingvellir National Park

I have no words for this place. Its vast, massive, mixture of Hawaii Volcan National Park, a forest, and death valley in one. Just wild. You go into another world here. Also, this place will have my heart because the Northern Lights put on a beautiful shows for us our evening. This park is on two tectonic plates and you can actually walk "in between" those plates that sperate North America and Europe. Trippy energy right? A lot of great hikes and their camping was one of my favorites. You go and get your parking pass at the visitors center and also the camping. I cant speak for the showers at this camp as I "showered" with wet wipes since I wasn't feeling well but the setup was nice and the bathrooms well kept:






Blue Lagoon

Looks just like the pictures. Its a whole experience in a dream. I can still feel the warmth of the water to this day. Fun fact, unsure if this is true or not, a local told us that this lagoon is actually a run off of the geological power plant close by that they use to power the island (not hard to do when half of the place in uninhabited) . So yea there's that but he said the run off isn't harmful. Also for ladies interested in the male species......the security personnel walking the perimeters are very handsome. I don't want to ruin the surprise of the experience for you. Just make sure you bring toiletries since you have to shower before you go in and I counted this as my shower for the day and your swimsuit. Everything else will be provided to you. Also, make sure you put conditioner in your hair if you plan on getting it wet. Even with the conditioner my curly haired self still had dry hair for a few days. Bring a leave in for before, at the park, then after the park.




Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

"Sisters, just two sisters"(White Christmas song). These are beautiful waterfalls that you can walk behind. One you are pretty damn near in so I didn't do that one since it was cold but the other you walk behind too and just get a sprinkle. We had a lovely lunch watching over these before heading over. Great hiking area and fun to explore.





To note: You have to pay for parking at every single tourist spot even the nature ones. This is so their government keeps it clean, pristine, and preserved. None of the parking charges exceeded $5-$10 USD. I think there is a card you can get somewhere that covers most hot spot attractions on the island.


Reykjavik

If possible do this location first. This is the capital and has a ton of stores you can buy an Icelandic wool sweaters from. I would have loved to have one to wear during the visit but I gladly brought one home. Other than that this is a true city. Great nightlife, dining, and shopping but don't expect much adventure here. Except my cousin got a tattoo so there's that. They have a ton of cool cafes. one of which a cat had its own table. They love cats here so please by nice to the strays. Also visit the rainbow road too which has other cool places. A lot of spiritual healing stores too which was cool. Hello Rune Magic!






Skógafoss Waterfall

Big and beautiful. Very picturesque. However, be wary of the campsite here. Its really sketch and we found questionable characters walking around. We didn't dare set foot but heard that bathroom and shower facilities were a complete wreck. We don't want to be paying for something that is not even kept. Drive up aways about 30 minutes to Vik and stay at the campsite there. They have a nifty school bus cafe and the facilities are well kept.






To note: Be careful of the ICEWEAR stores. There is a headquarter location in Vik. Many of the items there were made in China not Iceland. I bought my Icelandic sweater in Reyjavik at the Handknitting Association of Iceland. The wool is locally sourced and hand woven in Iceland. That store also has beanies, gloves, scarves, etc.


Sólheimasandur Plane Crash Site

This is the plane crash location on the black sand beach across from Skogafoss Waterfall and on the way to Vik. Please know that there is a bus on site that takes you to and from the crash site, The hike round trip is almost 2 hours. The sign at the entrance days 4 but I don't know how they measured that. So your legs aren't tired, just take the bus. Its free and honestly its not a scenic walk anyway. Take the pictures here in black and white. The color contrast is really cool.







Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Unreal. I felt straight out of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings here. Actually a scene in GOT was filmed here. Its really cool and I felt like a little kid running around to explore. I also did my fair share of professional photography shots here. Shoot in black and white to see how the contrast of colors pick up just like the crash site. YOU CANNOT SWIM HERE. Not like you would want to because its cold anyway but still. It's very dangerous currents and very rocky.




To note: If there is a crash on ring road or traffic, sometimes the GPS will route through the mountain passes. These are not designated F roads as the designated F roads have a sign saying so at the entrance. You cannot drive on F roads even if you have a 4 wheel drive. They are unpaved and extremely dangerous. However, the mountain pass that you may be so lucky to get redirected through is beautiful but there are a lot of pot holes and possible fog. DRIVE CAREFULLY


Vatnajokull National Park

Holy S***. That's my words. The hikes are unreal, the glacier is gorgeous and I felt calm and serene here. Good campsite too. You can feel the temperature change as you approach the glacier. I think they have glacier excursions too where you can actually hike on it but we didn't do that.





Vatna Ice Cave

Worth ittttttttt. Worth every penny. This is an active Volcano by the way. The Ice Cave is above it. This is the tour I did and the tour guides were sweet. You will be given all the materials you need to hike such as the spike show cover to go on the bottom of your shoes. Have you ever drank water straight from a glacier? We did and it was amazing. There is a reason Icelandic Water is almost $10 a bottle at Starbucks. This isn't for the faint of heart and the hike itself had us jumping and go over questionable bridges but the tour guides are very responsible and make sure your safe.

The drive there is bumpy so if you have motion sickness, take something before this tour.





Akureyi

Iceland's "second" capital and absolutely f******* adorable. I mean their streetlights are inn the shape of hearts like hello?! We didn't spend a ton of time here but this is where you want to go whale watching if weather permits and some of the fiords. We saw one and it was beautiful and the drive in is spectacular. I will say this was the worst campsite we had. The showers were not well kept and they had separate changing rooms. It was pretty small. Not our favorite personally. Too well lit for northern lights too but this is a great place to see them since you are further north.





Jökulsárlón

I felt like I was truly in the Artic and brought me back to my childhood where I learned to love the place. We had breakfast out here. Come in the morning because it can get crowded quick and its not a big area.



Stuðlagil Canyon

This is so worth it and worth the drive to the other side to cut your hike in half. Again only drive to the other side if you have a large vehicle but it was safe. It gets very muddy here when it rains. The hike to get this phot is a steep descent on slippery rocks. It takes all of 5 minutes but you can easily slip if not careful. If you fall into this river, you are instantly carried away. You have to crawl some of it too. Hold on to the rope to get your bearings and then its skill from there. Worth the shot though. Do not do this if its raining. These rocks are very slippery. You are also up close and personal with the sheep here which is cool.



Goðafoss waterfall

Powerful and intense. Crowded and eh, I felt we could have skipped it but worth seeing waterfalls like this.




Fontana

First of all have you seen boiling underground water right next to a freezing cold lake? Welcome to Fontana where the land defies the laws of physics. Again, land of fire and ice right? You have erupting volcanos right next to a glacier in this country so its no wonder this is a thing. This is where they bake bread in the ground. While you don't dig it up yourself, you do watch them dig a pot out from the day before and enjoy unlimited helpings of the Rye bread with a selection of salted butter and smoked salmon. This is also a hot spring if you want to pay for that but we didn't do it.






To note: Be careful driving with high winds. Check daily on your phone at https://www.road.is/travel-info/road-conditions-and-weather/entire-iceland-road-conditions-map/ for daily road conditions and winds. The wind is not a joke here and can send things flying into your vehicle.


Other places to see

Honestly there is so much to list here. We didn't get to see the West Fjords and Snæfellsnes peninsula and we were there two weeks. Please note that even two weeks is not enough to enjoy all the wonders of Iceland. Also, take into consideration that while you may have a set itinerary to see everything, Iceland may have something else in mind for you. We delayed our itinerary twice due to weather conditions with wind gusts and it can happen literally overnight. Be flexible when travelling here and research additional hot spots that can be a plan A vs Plan B in the event you have to improvise.


*To Note: If you are driving the island. Do not waste money and pay for a northern lights tour. You can chase them yourself and will have good luck seeing them most likely especially if you go during the months that they are the strongest. Also, you are likely to see them at campsites too. Use this app to track the solar weather so you can have a better window to chase: https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/aurora-30-minute-forecast


Lambs, horses, animals haven galore. Little towns worth a visit. and everything you want and more for a European country. Iceland is a wonder of the world that must be explored. Artic conditions but a beauty to behold. Such a wonder is Iceland and do as the Icelandic's do. One day at a time, everything will work itself out.


Buen Viaje,

Tiffany







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