2018 Iceland Campervan Trip

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powderglut

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My wife and I celebrated our 40th year together this August. She came up with the bright idea that we should do a big trip to celebrate it. Iceland, Scotland, Italy, France, Wales, and England were all mentioned. We managed to get to all these places except for Wales, over a 45 day period. Both Iceland and Scotland were done in campervans and encompassed 28 days of the trip. Both Iceland and Northern Scotland had been on my radar for a long time. If you love mountains , beaches, waterfalls, thermal activity, huge sea cliffs and fjords. Then this should be a worthy trip report. Anyone interested in traveling to these places is welcomed to throw questions my way. Heres the report as I'm working on it.

My wife and I leave Denver Aug 7 at 5:30 pm on Icelandair and arrive at 6:00AM Aug 8 Iceland local time. We decide we'll do as much as our bodies and minds will allow this first day.... considering we're 6 hours time difference from when we left. I do a quick stop at the duty free for some beer only, as we have packed 3 bottles of wine apiece in our luggage. We get picked up at airport around 8 am by our Campervan rental company ACE. https://www.acecarrental.is An easy 10 minute drive to the office. We do full inspection of the vehicle, which was basically brand new, and found one small dent on drivers door. We were shown all the gear that comes with the van, and then take our time packing all our stuff under the bed and in the nooks and crannies of our new "mobile home" (a Dacia Dokker) for the next two weeks. We next head over to the Costco and Bonus south of Reykjavik to supply up on food and some drinks. Our inventory of gear supplied, shows that we're still in need of a decent sharp knife and cutting board for our kitchen box. How convenient that Ikea is right across from the supermarkets. We're now supplied up and ready to head north.
I know all the Trip Advisor DE's and forum contributors advise anyone traveling immediately off a redeye. Best to give yourself a day to recover from jet lag. But ....we were both feeling really good, and felt like a good hike in the fresh air was more appropriate than calling it a day. I knew that our days ahead in the Westfjords would not allow us to backtrack, and this would probably be our only shot at seeing the waterfall Glymur. We pulled into a fairly packed parking lot on a light windy, but sunny day. Hiking boots on, we head out to see our first Iceland waterfall. Woo Hoo! Great hike!! It had everything. Crossing a small river over a slippery log, then cutting thru a cave, to a steep windy climb. Fantastic scenery and views on the way up to the 2nd highest falls in Iceland. The perfect introduction to this trip. Really loved this hike.
Back at the car, we made sandwiches and talked about what next. Maybe we should find a campground around Borganes and just relax the rest of the day. As it turned out, we really didn't like the campground there. Since we share the driving when needed, we ended up continuing on, all the way to Arnarstapi. I'm sure doing all this the first day seems like overkill to most of you, especially after a redeye flight. I would have thought the same....but the energy we felt, finally here in Iceland, was overwhelming. Somehow we managed to pull it all off, without sacrificing safety for us and... anyone else on the road.
Almost 7 PM....We drive our campervan into the Arnarstapi campground, along some tall hedges for wind protection. Set up our little table and chairs and...have a toast of wine and beer, staring up at the beautiful sunlit Mt Stapafell. Exhilaration! We are finally, really here, camping in Iceland. What a first day! Some food..another beer/wine, and finally... sleep around 10 pm. A big, beautiful, first night's sleep. Ahhh...the simple things in life.

00_01_Iceland.jpg



Glymur


Glymur


Glymur


Glymur


Glymur steep path




The cave you had to go thru at Glymur



Day2: We're both up between 7 and 8am. Sun is shining. I'm wearing shorts. Yes!! This will be "explore the Snaefellsnes Peninsula day". We wander around the Arnarstapi cliffs from camp and then pack up the van and backtrack to a waterfall I saw on the way in, that needed another look. We do a quick stop at Bjarnarfoss and then head back west again. We will circle around the point, and "the ever in your face", Snaefellsjokul glacier. We make stops at Londranger, Djupalonssandur (I picked up the four big stones...NOT!!!!!!) and Dritvik, Svodufoss, Kirkjufell and many others in-between. So much to see. Stykkisholmur is our eventual destination today, as we have the Baldur ferry booked, across over to the Westfjords the next morning. There is a Bonus Supermarket here and we grab a few things before we head to camp. We're still holding sunny weather and we check out the ferry location. The office is still open and they ask if I have my vouchers. They validate the tickets for us and the vehicle, and tell us when to line up in the morning. Pretty straight forward. We do showers, cocktails and dinner back at camp. Another stellar day of Icelandic sights. If this weather continues to hold, the Westfjords is going to be epic.

Arnarstapi


Arnarstapi


Bjarnarfoss


Bjarnarfoss


Londrangar


Londrangar

Snaefellsjokull glacier


Fresh water pond near the beach



These rocks are for picking up to show how strong and tough you are. You had to be able to pick up the 3rd biggest one if you wanted to row any of the big Viking boats. Not me I'm a dinghy guy.


The smaller stones under the big boys


Lava formations on Djupalonssandur beach


Djupalonssandur





Hole in the rock Djupalonssandur


Lava coastline Djupalonssandur




Svodufoss





Kirkjufellsfoss


Kirkjufellsfoss




Kirjufell


Day 3 Aug 10: It is a very cloudy gray morning, but the wind is light. The ferry to Westfjords is an easy crossing....really not much to look at on this gray day. Our first stop is a natural hot pot called Krosslaug, about 8-10 miles west on our way to Raudisandur beach. A pretty little hot spring next to the ocean at high tide. There's no one here, so we stop to check out the temperature. My wife says "definitely not hot enough, let's keep going" Oh well. On to Raudisandur as the sun seems to be pushing the clouds away. The gravel road is in pretty decent shape as we drive over the pass and down towards the miles of red hued beach. We park near a black church, and hike a path out to the red sands. The sun is coming out and the day is warming nicely. We spend a couple hours walking the ever changing colors of this huge beach. Very few people here. I'm liking Westfjords so far.
We drive back up and over the windy gravel road and continue on to Breidavik Beach camp with a planned evening visit to Latrabjarg Bird cliffs. We get showers at camp and use the Breidavik Hotel's shared hostel kitchen to make up dinner. We drive 15-20 minutes to the Latrabjarg cliffs at 7:30 pm and start hiking up along the endless meadows and huge ocean cliff faces. Puffins, puffins...where are the puffins? We see a couple on the cliff edges, but not what we expected from this famous bird breeding ground. A bit disappointed, we start hiking back down around 8:45.


Yikes!!!....OMG. puffins everywhere, flying in from the ocean and plopping themselves on the cliff edges. Maybe a dozen people here total, all spread out on the cliffs, taking pictures and laughing. You just can't help laughing at this sight. All these proud little birds, flying in on mass, to their nests on the cliffs. We stay entertained for more than an hour and a half and then drive back to camp, thoroughly pleased that we got to see this awesome event. Back at camp we grab a beer/wine and take a selfie at 11:30 PM with the sunset colors still on the ocean. This nice weather can't hold, can it?? Trip quality is top ten so far! Loving it!

Baldur Ferry from Stykkisholmur to the West Fjords


Krosslaug hot pot This pool is right next to the ocean at high tide


Raudassandur Beach Red sands


The black church of Raudassandur


Raudassandur locals










Miles and miles of red sand


Latrabjarg Bird cliffs


Latrabjarg lichen

Latrabjarg


Latsbjarg puffin habitat

The cliffs keep climbing




Latrabjarg Puffin



















Selfie at 11:30 PM


Day 4 Aug 11: We are in no hurry this morning. We sleep in and then make up a nice breakfast. We talk to a few fellow campers about places and things they've seen that we shouldn't miss. Almost all are on my long list. It's once again a nice sunny day. Our goal is to camp at Thingeyri this evening. We make stops at Patreksfjordur, Dynjandi Waterfall and a couple times on the pass above Thingeyri. We spend a few hours at the very impressive Dynjandi waterfall. Much bigger than I thought. Fairly busy crowd in the middle of the day, but thankfully no busses. One of Icelands nicest waterfalls. Nice place to have lunch.

Today's drive through the Westfjords is just a classic bluebird day. Winding thru the fjords and over the passes with azure blue skies is a total treat. The campground in Thingeyri is perfect with high hedges to keep out the wind. Very few campers. Best of all..... Kitchen, bathroom, and shower building is brand new. This place is the standard for top CG facilities by far. We decide to do dinner at Simbahollin Cafe. Excellent lamb stew and Butternut squash soup and bread. After dinner we visit a restored Viking camp next to the CG. We also get one of our best sunsets of the whole trip. If this weather keeps up, maybe we should just stay in the Westfjords for our whole trip. After hearing about all the bad weather this summer we are feeling very fortunate.

Breidavik Beach Camp. That lonely table on the right was ours.


Breidavik beach





Patreksfjordur Fjord

Dynjandi waterfall

Dynjandi

Dynjandi


Dynjandi


Dynjandi


Viking carved totems Thingeyri


Viking carved totem Thingeyri


Refurbished viking village Thingeyri

Thingeyri

Thingeyri

Thingeyri


To be continued
 
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powderglut

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Day 5 Aug 12: Another sunny day. Are we really in the Westfjords of Iceland? After breakfast, we drive back up a little ways on the scenic road we came in on. There is a trailhead/road that leads up to the top of Sandafell Mt overlooking the fjords and town of Thingeyri. We grab our water bottles and hike up to the top for the big views. Nice fields of lupines still hanging on, and great views of the impressive mts that fill this peninsula. We also can see quite a few fish pens lining the fjords below. I'll assume that most of them are for farmed Atlantic salmon. Not sure what other fish type is farmed here. Beautiful morning spent in this area.
We swing back to camp at lunch time and then head to Isafjordur to restock up on groceries. Wow! That is quite the long tunnel into Isafjordur! Tomorrow....We have a hiking/boat trip booked thru Wild Westfjords to the Hornbjarg Cliffs into the roadless Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Weather is suppose to still hold fair and sunny. Really, really looking forward to this trip. We will leave by boat from Bolungarvik the next morning, so.... this is our camping destination for the next 2 nights. We pick a nice spot to set camp and unload some stuff on a picnic table. There is a road that brings you up to an old radar station called Mt Bolafjall right behind camp. This road winds steeply up to the top, where you get great views of the Hornstrandir and town below. The rumor is... on a very clear day, you can see Greenland from up here. Of course....There is a sign up top dispelling this rumor. It's not really possible, because of the curvature of the earth. Anyway.... it sure is a nice place to survey the scenery under blue skies. Big views of the Hornstrandir and Bolungarvik below, but we both notice that there is a huge fog bank lurking a few miles out to sea. Hopefully it stays there.
Dinner back at camp is salad, potatoes and two huge thick pieces of salmon. Who needs a restaurant? We wander around the harbor after dinner and spot the boat we'll be using for tomorrows adventure. The sun is lighting the tops of the peaks above, and we head back to camp for a good night's sleep so we're ready for the big day trip in the morning.


Lupines on the way up Sandafell Mt -Thingeyri




Thingeyri and the fish pens


Salmon pens -Thingeyri


Dyrafjordur fjord Thingeyri


Mt Sandafell summit hub


View from Bolafjall to the north Hornstrandir Nature preserve

Bolafjall radar station



Bolafjall

Bolafjall




Bolungarvik on the way down Bolafjall


View from camp Bolungarvik


Our transportation and rolling hard shell tent Spinning vent on roof kept out condensation

Bolungarvik harbor


The boat that will take us to the Hornbjarg cliffs in the morning



Day 6 Aug 13: Oh joy! Sunny, calm and that fog bank is still sitting a few miles off the coast. We eat breakfast, and then pack up our day packs with lunch and snacks.... for today is THE big hiking adventure in the Hornstrandir. The boat ride to Hornbjarg will take roughly 2 1/2 hours. The boat is the Heysteri and is outfitted with a small rib boat, a captain and mate. Our guide is Rudolph, and despite us being 1 shy of the minimum 8 people, this trip is on!
We get a very thorough rundown on all the hazards and safety gear we may need to use from our first mate. I'm told this can be a pretty wild boat ride some days. Not today... the sea is flat as a pancake and the sun is shining. Our captain tells us this will probably be (by far) the nicest day to boat over to this area all season. We all feel fortunate that we lucked into this great spell of weather, especially for this amazing trip.
We motor out north from Bolungarvik, around the fjords and Straumnes Lighthouse, eventually heading east along the huge cliffs and inlets. This is the southern border of the Arctic Ocean. We stop at a few spots (staying just off shore) for some pictures of this magnificent coast line. We eventually pull into Hornvik bay and use the rib (rigid inflatable) boat to get us all ashore. We'll be hiking along the cliff edges almost up to the top of the Hornbjarg. We''re hoping for puffin sightings, but... they have either left for the season, or are taking advantage of the nice weather to fish and won't be back until evening. Either way we still see tons of birds flying and nesting all along the cliffs. This is one of the most scenic hikes I've been on, with the exposure of the cliffs right next to the trail and the jagged peaks always in your front view. We have a strong hiking crew and move along at a steady clip. We do enough stops on the way up to keep us all together. Everyone but the guide is probably half our age....but we're holding our own. (Living above 7000 feet in Colorado and 4+ miles of walking every day keeps us 2 senior citizens in the game).
What about the Arctic foxes you ask? Well... I asked our guide (on the boat) what our chances of seeing them would be. He said without blinking 100%. Ok... Hmmmmm.... we've been out hiking around 4 hours and nothing in sight. We hear arctic foxes making calls and yips for most of the day, but never see them. We work our way from the high cliffs to a pretty lake and then start down towards the area where we'll be picked up by the boat. But it is not until the end of our hiking day that we get to finally see some foxes.
How cool is this? For almost an hour, we watch four young foxes make their way down the fields, tumbling over each other and putting on a show. We all sit still and let them make their way to us. The thrill of watching these wild animals up close, is beyond words. I actually have one come within 10 feet of me, but thought it best not to encourage it to come any closer. Gawd... they're cute! What a day!


The rib boat comes ashore and we load up for the 2 1/2 hour boat ride back. You can't write the script any better than this. Unless....we see whales too! Oh well...not to be. The ride back is a little bumpier, but no one is complaining with the sun still shining on the cliffs and sea. I don't use this word lightly, EPIC tour! Back on shore we say good bye to all our new friends and drive the 2 minutes back to camp. We toast to a successful day and make up Mexican quesadillas with chicken and salad. Didn't I already say this? What a day!

Straumnes Lighthouse


Moss covered Hornstrandir cliffs



Wispy waterfall




Hiking up tp the Hornbjarg

The fog shrouded Arctic Ocean just behind us


We will climb up and over that long ridge


The Hornbjarg cliff path







View of the lake below the Hornbjarg








Some of the best hiking in Iceland if you can get a nice day

Hornbjarg resident






The crew




Finally!!! Arctic foxes
















Ferocious Arctic foxes



This one got within ten feet of me




To be continued
 
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powderglut

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Day 7 Aug 14: Another sunny morning. How much longer can this last. I'm saying this daily sunshine is addicting! We get off to a slow start this morning. A very lovely ride, winding in and out of fjords to our next chapter. Today turns out to be just a long driving day. We want to get out to the Hvitserkur
The majestic Hvítserkur Sea Stack - the Troll of North-West Iceland

(Drinking dragon on Vatnsnes Peninsula) on our way to Hofsos, but we make an error in judgement, not gassing up the car when we stop in Holmavik. On the way there....We decide to turn back to the Ring road before this becomes a hitch hiking adventure. The thought of running out of gas before we can get to Blonduos is not what I have in mind. (Lesson learned, always fill up when you get between 1/2 and 1/4 tank. DUH!!) We eventually get to Hofsos and the weather has been changing. Is it because we are now entering North Iceland? We're now under very cloudy skies and a bit of rain, but..we somehow get a decent sunset and a big fat rainbow to boot at camp in Hofsos.



Hofsos

Hofsos


Day 8 Aug15: A bit of fog and some drizzle is creating a little gloom in attitude this AM. Cheer up! We're touring Iceland! We talk about a morning dip at the town pool. Nope! We decide not to use the pool or hot tubs across from camp, and instead, we check out the neat basalt columns dotted along the low cliffs and then drive north. I hate to say this, but the scenic Trollaskagi peninsula could be anywhere in the world this morning. NO VIEWS!! Fog and drizzle hide all the mountains and coastline, virtually all the way to Akureyri. After a stop at Vinbudin (liquor Store) for more beer, we head to Godafoss waterfall. Pretty but.... Lot's of people! Do a southern circle around Lake Myvatn and then drive up to the Krafla Viti crater. Again... pretty but, Lot's of people! The day is still a bit foggy with intermittent rain. Long views are out. We drive back down and spend a little more time at Hverir thermal area in the rain with Lot's of people. Time to move on. We have been spoiled in the Westfjords with great weather and way less people. I knew at some time we'd have to start putting up with crowds at these more popular places. The reality really sinks in on this day. We decide to skip Dettifoss waterfall and drive north to Husavik. The camp has a decent kitchen to use and plenty of hot water in the showers. Fresh from hot showers, we make up a delicious Mexican dinner and spend the evening talking with some others, traveling around the country. We all laugh that the north is not treating us very well, as it rains all night here in Husavik.. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Hofsos Basalt columns


Basalt Columns


Basalt Columns


The Infinity view pool Hofsos


Godafoss


Godafoss


Godafoss


Viti Crater


Viti Crater


Viti Crater


Krafla thermal area


Hverir thermal area


Hverir



Hverir


Hverir


Hverir


Go anywhere Icelandic campers Husavik



Day 9 Aug 16: We did not come to Husavik to see whales, and really never see much of the town. Besides... it's dark and dreary around here this morning. We get up early and head towards Asbyrgi Canyon. Hoping the weather will give us a chance to see this canyon. Once again we really don't get to see much of the north coast or the mountains with light rain and low clouds. I talk with a park ranger at Asbyrgi and she says we'll probably need to hang around for quite a while if we want to see much of the canyon today. She says low clouds are the problem blocking visibility. We talk it over and decide to move on to an area called Raudanes. It's a small peninsula with some nice cliffs, arches and sea stacks. Also... it is not on many peoples radar, so it should be very light on people. The question is ....will we be able to see anything? It's a very wet drive over to Raudanes, with the thought of going a bit further north to Raufarhofn to see the Arctic Henge. But... that turns out to be only a thought, as we continue to drive this lonely road into a very foggy peninsula. We find a large sign that has a map of the area and some trails leading away into the fog. I guess this is it. Full rain gear on, we hope this isn't a bust. We're in a pretty continuous light rain, and I need to keep drying my camera every other picture, but.... we have this whole place to ourselves and the fog moves out enough to give up some splendid views. On a nice day you could probably hike the whole circle and spend 4-5 hours exploring. I'd say we spent just over 2 1/2 hours seeing a good quarter of it. This turned out to be the best thing we did since leaving the Westfjords. It's a very unique coastal area. I like it a lot!! As we ready ourselves to leave, 2 cars pull up, and ask us if it's worth seeing this place in the rain. We assure them, that it definitely is. The rain picks up intensity as we leave. I'm thinking... time to exit the north and go for the East Fjords. We have to chuckle a bit, at this run of wet weather. Right?

We make it down to Egilsstadir late afternoon. Cloudy but no rain, and it looks like it may be breaking up. Yay! Stops at the Visitor Ctr, supermarket and gas station, and then it's on to Borgarfjordur Eystri to camp. What a beautiful ride thru mts, and then finally down to the coast.. Camp area is very scenic, with the mountains and ocean, and some classic grass homes. It also appears that we are no longer in a rainy environment. Hooray! Decent kitchen facility and showers at CG. I like this place. I could spend some time around here.



Raudanes


Raudanes



Raudanes


Raudanes


Raudanes


Raudanes


Raudanes


Raudanes


Raudanes


Raudanes


Raudanes


Raudanes


Raudanes


Raudanes


The big arch


Otherside of the big arch


Raudanes


Raudanes


Raudanes


Raudanes


Raudanes


Raudanes


Raudanes


Borgerfjordur Eystri Grass home






Borgerfjordur Eystri



Day 10 Aug 17: Yesterday, (in Eglisstadir) We were told by the man at the Visitor Center desk, that the puffins had already left a few days ago, and it wouldn't be worth our time to go to the viewing area south of Borgerfjordur Eystri. Today is going to be nice, and as much as I'd like to spend time down here, I want to hike up to Hengifoss on a nice day. We reluctantly leave this beautiful area without giving it the time it deserves. Only so much time to see it all.
We drive to Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss and get into the parking lot before it gets too busy. Both waterfalls are awesome. The basalt columns and the red stripes, make these two, one of my favorites for pure beauty. A bit of sunshine doesn't hurt either. We go back into Eglisstadir for a few things, and drive the Ring road south. In and out of the Eastfjords is pretty spectacular. Our destination for the night is Djupivogur.

The clouds are starting to move back in, and it appears we will definitely have a very windy, rainy night. This campground has a very decent kitchen and dining area, besides a neat little reading area with couch and easy chair. They actually have a hall area where you leave your shoes. This place is by far the cleanest despite the weather "going south" on us this afternoon. No muddy shoes in this place. Lot's of interesting folk to talk to from all over the world. No after dinner hikes tonight. A few tents get blown over during the night and I'm sure they were very happy to have this place as refuge. We stay nice and dry in our little campervan. I call it a mobile tent, that you don't have to set up and break down everyday. Having campgrounds with a dry place to hang, is worth it's weight in gold during these nasty weather events.

East Fjords cascade


East Fjords


Eastfjords


Litlanesfoss and a bit of Hengifoss above


Litlanesfoss


The gorgeous Hengifoss waterfall


Hengifoss


Hengifoss


Hengifoss


Hengifoss


Hengifoss


Near Egglistadir





East fjords cascade


East fjords cascade

 

powderglut

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Day 11 Aug 18:The weather has blown out by daylight, and we wakeup to blue skies with clouds still hanging on the mts. After breakfast we drive down to the harbor to see the Eggs of Merry Bay. There are 34 granite eggs representing the different species of birds in East Iceland. A pretty cool display of art lining one whole side of the harbor. The drive south is spectacular this morning. We stop at Hvalnes point and lighthouse. Huge views of the Eystrahorn. There's a huge black sand beach running south, fronting a giant estuary behind. The views to the north are fantastic as well as to the Horns of the south near Stokksnes. I could easily spend a whole morning here hiking the beach and mts with nobody else around. Nope ...we're moving on. We drive towards Hofn and start to get the glacier views. So glad the sun is blaring.
We eventually get to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond beach. Yikes....there's a lot of people here. We decide to walk around and take pics from shore. We pass on a boat ride on the iceberg lagoon as there seems to be endless lines of people everywhere. We walk across the street to the Diamond beach. Not quite as busy especially if you walk a little ways down the beach. It's a beautiful day and the ice sparkles and the lagoon is deep blue. This is such a unique place in the world, that to just see it on a sunny day, is plenty enough to make us happy.

We choose the main campground in Skaftafell for tonight, and hike up to Svartifoss in the late afternoon. Pretty little waterfall. We hike a little higher for some glacier views and then come down for dinner and a drink. It's still a really nice evening, so we hike over to the Skaftafellsjokull glacier and lake. What a day for diversity. Mountains, beaches, lagoons, waterfalls, icebergs, diamonds, glaciers. No wonder this area is so popular! Blue sky weather really makes this day extraordinary!

Djupivogur Camp


Djupivogur Harbor


Djupivogur



Merry Bay eggs



Merry bay Eggs


You'll never get it to hatch


the Eystrahorn



Looking south along the Lon area and the Vestrahorn


Looking north towards the East Fjords


Hvalnes Point lighthouse


The Lon estuary


Hvalnes pt beach


Brunnhorn


Brunnhorn and Vestrahorn


Vatnajokull Glacier


Vatnajokull


Vatnajokull


Vatnajokull



Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon


Jokulsarlon



Jokulsarlon resident


Jokulsarlon



Jokulsarlon



Flowing out the bay to land on the beaches


Diamond Beach


Diamond beach



Diamond Beach


Diamond beach


Svartifoss in Skatafell NP


Svartifoss


Skaftafell


Hundafoss


Skaftafell


Danger Will Robinson!!



Skaftafell



Day 12 Aug19: Chilly morning but mostly clear. We're just going a short distance to reset camp, as we continue west to Kirkjubaejarklaustur. We pick a camping spot and leave some chairs and our little table to hold the spot while we explore for the day. First time we have actually left one camp, and then immediately went to another.
A short drive from camp is the spectacular Fjadrargljufur canyon. This place is being loved to death. They have now closed off hiking through the bottom of the canyon to protect the fish populations. Hiking along the rim is now roped off, to clearly define the path, and keep people from eroding any more of the edges. Of course, there are always a few people, that see the old worn paths out to the points, and cross the ropes anyway with their drones. Hmmmm.. I guess the signs that say NO DRONES and roped off areas don't apply to some people. This place really is stunning with all the green canyon walls, and, the twists and turns in this gorge. We spend a couple of hours here until we need to escape the the throngs.
We need a few things in Vik, and drive that way for a stop at the supermarket. There is another reason why we drive this far west from camp. I had heard about a magical place called Thakil. I know we will have this place mostly to ourselves and now I see why. The road out is very rocky and potholed, and the ups and downs, make us question our decision to find our way out into this remote camp area. Nevermind... this is where elves and trolls live. Spiky, pointy peaks and mossy green cliffs give this place a creepy magic feel. Very few people here. I originally had this place pegged for a nights camp. Really glad we at least came out to experience this location for a few hours.

We return back east to our camp and make up dinner. Nice kitchen area to use. The evening hike is over to a really neat cascade called Systrafoss. We climb up to the top of the falls, to a pretty lake called Systravatn. Nice views of the valley. I should have taken my fly rod up here as I see a fish or 2 rising. My wife suggests I get up early tomorrow AM and come back up here. And maybe finally catch a fish before we move on. I feel a bit guilty that I brought waders, flies, and fly fishing gear on this trip, and I have yet to break it out. Bolungarvik and some other places in the Westfjords, may have been my best opportunity. Only so much time. Right?

Skaftafell camp in the morning


The spectacular Fjardrargljufur canyon





Fjardrargljufur cascade








Fjardrargljujfur


Magical Thakil


Thakil


Thakil


Thakil


Thakil


Thakil


Thakil


Thakil


Thakil


Huge river basin near Vik


Systrafoss


Systrafoss


Glacial flow to the ocean


Systravatn lake and alligator


Systrafoss


 

slc_dan

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#5
too cool. My wife and I did something similar a few years ago, and for a number of reasons we didn't get to hike as much as I would have liked. We'll be going back.

Thanks for sharing!
 

powderglut

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Great photos! Curious on the campervan, do you have any photos on what the inside looked like? Was the cost fairly reasonable?
You get everything you see included. The cooler and sleeping bag are extra. I brought my own sleeping bag and soft packable cooler. June, July and August are high season. Everyone charges the most for everything during those 3 months. The cost of the van with all insurance was about $150 per day. It's Iceland it is not a cheap place to go (excluding airfare)... Van rental is probably twice as high as anywhere else in the world. But.....It still serves as your place to sleep and your transportation. A regular rental car and accommodation during this same time would be roughly $200 per day at the bottom end. With a campervan you can stay or go at your own pace. There are over 350 campgrounds to use. You do not need to prebook accommodation and be there each night. This can make a difference if you're paying attention to where the weather is.

https://www.acecarrental.is/our-cars This is who I used there are lots and lots of other companies.

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powderglut

In search of Fresh
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Thread starter #9
Day 13 Aug 20: Pretty gray looking morning. We drive west into Vik and park behind the supermarket to walk the black sand beach. This is going to be one of those in and out weather days. Some fog, some rain, some clouds, some sun. Rain jackets and rain pants most of the day. We stop at all the classic spots. Reynisfjara beach, the Reynisdranger sea stacks and Dyrholaey cliffs. Now here is an interesting thing. We have been told numerously (since Aug 13) by most locals, that the puffins are gone. Flown the coop, so to speak. So.......really.... no reason to think otherwise. Well guess what? No one told the puffins at both Reynisfjara or Dyrholaey. Puffins, do you not read the calendar, it's Aug 20? Seriously, they were thicker here than in Latrabjarg a week and half back. Crazy how many birds were still around. We took many pictures and enjoyed the beaches, cliffs and birds. So far a pretty great day.
Next on the list is Skogafoss. You know... that big, huge, classic, Icelandic, waterfall. The end or beginning, of the famous Fimmforduhals hike. It's afternoon so we know it will be crowded. Sheesh!! What a zoo! The thought was to hike up the trail above the falls, and get past everyone for a mile or two and see the the endless waterfalls above. The rain is coming down and there appears to be at least a hundred people hiking up to the top of the falls. Alrighty then.... (not today) it's time for us to move on after a few mandatory pictures. We stop at the next falls, Seljalandsfoss, and it's same scenario. Full parking lot with busses too. OK.... we are not in the mood to be in an assembly line. We decide to take the road down towards the ferry for the Westman islands, thinking there is a campground around here, away from the hoards. We drive around the area for miles and miles, and finally come to the conclusion, that.... NO there isn't! Well at least we can't find one. It looks like we'll be staying at the soggy camp near Seljalandsfoss. Fortunately the camp is far enough down the road from the overloaded parking lot.


This day has now committed to steady rain. The grassy field we are parked on is puddling up all around us. This place does (at least) have a decent kitchen to use. But.... it's not the cleanest I've seen. All in all, I'd say this camp building is pretty worn. Not the most appealing place to hang around. We cook up dinner and retire early to the campervan. I've got some next day map planning to do, besides catching up on my calendar journal. We see unhappy people setting up tents. Brutal!! We manage to stay high and dry in the midst of this all night rain. Thank you little campervan.


Reynisdranger Sea stacks from Vik


Vik Beach


Vik Beach


Vik church


Reynisdranger beach puffins


Reynisdranger basalt columns


Dyrholaey cliffs


Dyrholaey


Dyrholaey


Beach to the south of the cliffs


Dyrholaey puffins


Dyrholaey puffins


Dyrholaey


Dyrholaey arch

Dyrholaey stack


Dyrholaey


Skogafoss


Skogafoss


Day 14 Aug 21: I wake up early. Yikes! There is an ankle deep moat around the campervan, as it steadily rained all night. I head over to the CG kitchen dodging puddles the best that I can. This place is a pit. There must have been a lot of people (staying out of the rain) hanging in here last night and no one cleaned up. I take about ten minutes to straighten things up before I make some tea and breakfast.
This campground is actually closer to the waterfall Gljufurarbui. There is a walking path that connects over to Seljalandsfoss. After breakfast we get on our raincoats and rainpants and hike both waterfalls. Rain is still steady and we get both waterfalls with just 1 or 2 other people. Something to be said about visiting popular spots early in the AM. We drive our van out of the very, very, soggy field, and pick up some gear we left in the camp building to dry out. All properly packed and organized, we take off pretty early.
The Golden Circle was not really on my radar for this trip. Less busier places were. But....The rain is still persisting this morning and Gullfoss is not to far away. We decide we're going to see at least that waterfall and then Strokkur blow it's hot water plume in the Geysir area. Surprisingly, at Gullfoss, it is not that busy yet. Still raining. There are 3 or 4 places to view this big powerful falls from, and we hit them all. Unfortunately, I will remember this place more, for losing my spare camera battery than the scenery itself. (Bummer.... as I will now need to make sure my only camera battery is fully charged each day. Oh well!) We next head to Geysir. It is plenty busy. We knew that! We watch Strokkur shoot it's boiling water plume 4 times in about 30 minutes. I actually liked this place a lot, despite the crowds. Still pretty rainy.


Our next destination for the night is Hveragerdi. We haven't put any time into seeing or swimming in any hot springs or pools. But a hot soak in the hot spring river of the Reykjadalur valley is definitely enticing. After picking a spot at the camp in Hveragerdi, we drive up the road to check out the path to the hot springs river. OMG there has to be 200+ cars up here, and a mob at the coffee shop visitor ctr. Escape! Escape! We decide an early AM visit is the only way to see it without a lot of people. We stop at the Skyrgerdin cafe ( a few blocks from camp) instead of going back to camp because of light rain. We nurse a beer and glass of wine for an hour or so, until the rain lets up. Back at camp, we go straight into the semi open- air kitchen to prepare dinner. We have sea scallops, 3 cheese raviolis, spinach and pesto. We break out our last bottle of wine, a Rombauer Chardonnay. One of our best camp meals of the trip. This is our last night camping as we have a guesthouse booked for the next night near Keflavik.


Gljufurarabui



Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss

Gullfoss

Strokkur at Geysir


Strokkur


Day 15 Aug 22: It's a beautiful morning. We are in the parking lot at 7AM for the hike up the Reykjadalur valley and to the hot springs river. We are just the 4th car up here this morning. YAY! The climb up is steady, approximately 3.5 km one way. We pass some cascades, boiling thermal pots, hot mud pots, and steamy hillsides and streams. Very interesting place. We get to the top and there is a wooden boardwalk along most of the pools. Only 1 person in the river. 4 people are already changing and ready to leave for the walk back down. Crazy! We just about have this whole place to ourselves. We try out a few different pools. Some almost too hot for me to handle. Not my wife she loves the hot stuff. We hop around a few different pools. I'm doing my best not to become parboiled. Eventually, we see maybe 20 more people over a 2 hr period. I guess nobody is in a hurry to get up here. The walk back down to the car is nice and casual, especially after soaking for an hour and a half. Feeling loose.
OK...So....2 things I noticed on the way down. First, that there is a mass migration on the way up. I think we pass close to a hundred people on their way up. Glad we went way early and had it ourselves. 2nd thing I noticed is, that there are serious swarms of no- see-um midges all the way down to the car. Very annoying, in your face and ears and hairline. I use my hat to fan my face and keep them at bay. I wonder if this wet thermal area is a prime breeding ground for these little buggers. I never noticed any bites on me but it seemed like there was a tiny stinging feeling if you don't keep them fanned off your face. I am glad to get to the car and be rid of them. Anyone else experience these? Not near as bad as the Sottish midges.
We will be spending tonight at a guesthouse in Keflavik. We can check in at 2 pm, the same time I need to turn in the van. We also have 2 weeks of laundry to deal with as we'll need fresh clothes for the next part of our trip in Scotland. We still have about 4 hours to check out some spots in the Reykjanes Peninsula. What a stark place. We head south from Hveragerdi then west towards Grindavik and on to the bottom point of Reykjanes. Lot's of treeless rocky lava. The ocean, cliffs and volcanic terrain give this place an almost inhospitable feel. Too bad we don't have a little more time to give this area more time.
We pull into the Ace Guesthouse at about 2 PM. Turn the vehicle over and get unloaded. I had made arrangements about getting our laundry done with the owners. Not something they normally do. We spend the rest of the afternoon getting clothes clean and repacking our gear for tomorrows flight to Edinburgh. Our last dinner is at a sea food restaurant called Beint Ur Sjo in Reykjanesbaer. Salmon and Haddock are delicious. Nice last evening in Iceland, and really good to be out of the campervan and in a real bed again.


Reykjadalur Valley


Reykjadalur


Reykjadalur



Reykjadalur


Reykjadalur


Reykjadalur


Reykjadalur


Reykjadalur


Reykjadalur


Reykjadalur

Reykjadalur


Reykjanes Peninsula


Reykjanes


Reykjanes fault


Reykjanes


Reykjanes


Reykjanes lighthouse


Last dinner Haddock


Salmon dinner


Day 16 Aug 23: Really no time to go anywhere as we need to be at the airport at 10:30 AM. This was a superb trip. The Ace owner drops us off at the airport and it's time for the next adventure. 12 Days in Scotland.

What an epic trip! Any questions?
 
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#11
Awesome trip. My wife and I went in June and got a white Dokker. We had 2 weeks of rain with some really clear days sprinkled throughout. We did almost the same trip as you, you saw a bit more though. Although, the hiking near the Eastfjords was phenomenal. It was nice seeing your photos.
 

Artemus

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#12
Wild! Thanks!

Love the foxes and the puffins and the Litlanesfoss. Amazing geology. Amazing.
 

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