Iceland is a destination that breaks all the conventional ideas of a holiday- be it her rugged landscape, harsh weather, lack of any ostentatious architecture, bustling cities or even lip smacking food. Yet, Iceland manages to attract thousands of tourists and travellers every year. And that is because of its inherent wilderness which makes the country unique in ways more than one. Being one of the most sparsely populated European countries with almost two thirds of which reside in and around its capital city Reykjavik, the unspoilt natural beauty of Iceland is not a surprise.
After a lot of contemplation and deliberation, my ever enthusiastic husband and I decided to tick off Iceland from the bucket list . So, this summer we with yet another cold and ice loving friend Hari, packed our bags and headed to Iceland. After a couple of hours’ journey from London, we set our foot at the Keflavik airport, and after a while were picked up by the Orange Car rental agent (our first Icelandic encounter) who drove us to their office. He was a particularly calm young boy with hair up to his shoulder who seemed to be speaking in quite good English in a slightly American accent. The car rentals manager explained to us briefly about the rules and tricks of driving in Iceland. There is a story that comes in later on this one.
If you ask me, camping was definitely the biggest highlight of the Icelandic expedition, something that I would certainly recommend. Not only is it soul satisfying ,but also a very inexpensive way of staying in Iceland. One will be pleasantly surprised at the number of camping sites you find in every nook and cranny of Iceland. For prices as low as €5 for a night per tent, accommodation came in very economical. Considering that I had never camped before, I was enthralled and skeptical at the same time. Camping equipment Rentals is a perfect solution for people like us who travel mostly on hand luggage alone and do not want to carry the tent and other camping materials. From tents to Gas stoves to Go pros and GPS maps, they rent out everything that one would possibly need when camping at Iceland. And it is based at Reykjavik, making it all the more convenient. They also have a pick up & drop off with an access code, so it doesn’t matter what time your flight is at.
What we rented out from the Camping Equipment Rentals
- A 5 person tent (even though we were only three)
- Gas stove + fuel
We had carried our own sleeping bags, a sleeping mat, pillows, cooking vessels and some sachets of instant noodles and couscous ( Well, we carry couscous anywhere we go :D). But we ended up not using much of the food we had carried.
The first official landmark stopover was at the Hallgrímskirkja which is a Lutheran Paris church in Reykjavik. This church was designed to represent the volcanic lava eruptions which form the basis of Icelandic landscape.
The camping site we had planned for the night was at —– which was — miles from Reykjavik. In the stop to refill the fuel, we had some food i.e, Iceland’s yogurt aka Skyr and some blue cheese burger from a small hotel. One thing to be conscious at all times that, in Icelend everything is expensive. So eating out was not an option at all.
All we had to do now was to drive through the Icelandic vistas and reach Hellisandur before it was dark. Now that is a paradox, as you hardly get to see the sun setting in Summer at Iceland. Even at 2 AM, it was still bright, like an evening. But as it was the first day of assessing our tent building skills and also because we wanted to get a good spot to camp, we were determined to reach the camping site sooner rather than later.
Now the camping site already had a good number of tents and we managed to secure a not-so-bad spot to plant our tent. After a brief initial hiatus,we triumphed in our mission, and had our magnificent tent in place. And since tourism is pivotal for the Icelandic economy, most camping sites come with the basic toilet and shower facilities for a meagre amount. So that is one of the key things to look for, when you choose a camping site. I would definitely recommend that you have researched enough on the list of camping sites you would like to put up.
Key learnings so far:
- Have a map/list of camping sites in Iceland, and try to book in advance if possible.
- If you are finicky about sleeping in bright light, do not forget to get the sleeping eye mask.
- Keep some ISK (Icelandic krones) in change as you would need them for paying at for the toilet/shower usage.
- There aren’t many road signs in the country, so it would be a good idea to download the google map for Iceland, and use them in offline mode to navigate.
And there we were, zipped in the tent, snuggled into our sleeping bags and off to sleep!
It is so true that one does not know adaptable we are, unless we expose ourselves to certain circumstances. The first day in the country was quite eventful and had given us an essence of Iceland. We knew there was much more to it than we had seen yet, but on the second day we were better equipped.