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Iceland's Backroads--A 2,000 Mile Camper Van Adventure (September 2017)

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City Slicker

Iceland's Backroads--A 2,000 Mile Camper Van Adventure (September 2017)

 

Iceland is not for the faint of heart--especially when you get off the beaten path. The weather is completely unpredictable with rain "falling" sideways, paved roads that suddenly turn to rough gravel, and experiencing a part of the earth that is visibly alive with seismic and geothermal activity. 

To see the true Iceland is to get far away from the Reykjavik metropolitan area and embark on the 830-mile Ring Road to encounter the people, the beautiful landscape and the many backroads to unbelievable adventures. 

You'll encounter waterfalls, icebergs, hot springs, black sand beaches, aurora borealis, and so much more. 

This two-week 2,100-mile camper van adventure to as many remote outposts as we could fit in, brought us face-to-face with the real Iceland. Make sure you are prepared for this adventure: bring waterproof, warm clothing layers; keep your camper van full of fuel and stocked with food before you head for the back roads; and always veer from the busy Ring Road to explore a side road and see what you might find!

The photos will show you more than I could ever say in words. Iceland and its people are fabulous. 

Just one final word: GO!! 

 

IMG_4289.jpgIn southern Iceland at Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. The iceberg in my hand is 8 stories tall!IMG_4227.JPGIn Vik, where we stayed at the one & only campground. The most crowded camping I have ever encountered, but somehow we all did OK. This experience inspired us to get off the Ring Road to find campgrounds that ended up being mostly empty!IMG_4264.JPGThere are a lot of one lane bridges in Iceland. Be courteous and you will do fine! The real scary experience is driving in the one lane tunnels through mountains! You have to trust that people follow the traffic light signals so you won't encounter another car inside those tunnels. BTW: there are a couple of emergency pullouts in each tunnel if this does happen!IMG_4315.JPGWho knew Iceland has many microbrews? Vatnajökull was our favorite, made from glacial water and a hint of thyme.IMG_4342.jpgDid I mention there are a lot of sheep in Iceland? You will encounter them in pastures, on mountaintops, but mostly they all just seem to want to get in the road. Be careful as you have to pay a farmer to replace any sheep that you hit while driving.IMG_4402.JPGWalk out on the rock jetty beyond this lighthouse and you will be within 1 km of the Arctic Circle. This is a completely off the beaten path experience!IMG_4422.JPGWhen you stay mostly on the backroads of Iceland you are bound to have a flat tire along the way. Make sure you ask your rental company where the jack & spare tire are located. We had no idea how to get the tire out from beneath the van, luckily the owners manual was in the van and told us which bolt (inside the van!?) released it.

IMG_4498.JPGMývatn nature baths were fabulous. When I saw that the Blue Lagoon, which I visited in 1996 and 2001, had been turned into a high-end spa, I was in search of a genuine thermal pool experience. Mývatn was pretty amazing!

IMG_4563.JPGWalking around Siglufjörður (which was my favorite village) some school kids were kicking around a soccer ball at recess. I love these moments with real folks.

 

IMG_4599.JPGI asked a local where the Icelanders go for hot thermal pools. He didn't hesitate and said Grettislaug. It is fed by actual boiling steam vents in the pool - be careful not to burn yourself. It's a pretty primitive site and the VERY hot pools have lots of algae in them, but I jumped in and reveled in the experience.IMG_4619.JPGBarnafoss waterfall, with two tiers and the upper river flows underground until it emerges here - a fabulous place!

 

22221780_1493631277393657_8310176945533421022_n.jpgAurora borealis at Hvammstangi -- spectacular!