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Iceland – Epic Ring Road Itinerary & Video

The very first thing we did when we arrived in Iceland was pick up our camper van from Solstice.  I had been exchanging emails with them for weeks leading up to our trip and they gave me such peace of mind, especially since every time I travel to a new country, anxiety inevitably creeps in.  Steinar and his family company put us at ease and before I knew it, I was so acclimated to van life that I feel like I would seriously consider it were I not already living on a tiny tropical island.

We spent the first night by Seljalandsfoss where you can walk behind the waterfall.  Right next door was one of my favorite waterfalls of the trip, Gljúfrabúi.

It’s often overlooked for the more popular Seljalandsfoss and you must walk into a cave in ankle deep water but once you’re in, you’re transported to an otherworldly space.

Nearby is Seljavallalaug but we heard from several travelers that in recent time, tourists had trashed the place which makes me so so so sad to hear.  We also heard that this had become the case for Hrunalaug, both of which were on my original list.  In some of the most beautiful places in Iceland, I noticed cigarette butts and crushed beer cans alongside signs asking visitors to not litter or defecate.  I also saw people walking all over their delicate moss.  We picked up trash as we went along (it’s our collective pact to take at least 3 pieces of trash from our beach home anytime we visit as well) and we did our best to leave a site as we found it.  If we all do this, Iceland can remain the wild wonderland that it is.  I was in complete awe of its epic landscape and it is my sincere hope that it can remain unspoiled and pristine.  Seriously, we were drinking ancient glacial waters to our hearts content from the abundant fresh water sources and there were places where we were the only ones around and it made me understand the magic of Iceland.  We can keep it that way.

The next morning, we drove to Reynisfjara.  Side note: about a week after our trip, I discovered a long forgotten folder entitled “bucket list” and in it was a picture of this very beach.  It seriously gave me chills.  This was an unexpected spot that we both loved and probably spent way too much time at.  We wandered around barefoot on its black sand beach, standing in complete amazement of its powerful waves (and I mean powerful as it has pulled many out to sea, never be seen again), and its striking basalt sea stacks.

If you come at the right season, it’s also a great place to see puffins.  We conversed with some locals who pointed out the sheep grazing on the sharp cliffs and how often, young ones will take a perilous misstep.  It’s yet another reminder of just how beautiful yet wild Iceland is.  There are many isolated parts of the country (particularly the highlands and westfjords) that are completely secluded where things like guardrails just don’t exist.  There were some moments where we wiggled through the westfjords on unpaved roads with a plummeting drop off canyons and cliffs that just took my breath away.

The drive from Hella to Vik in Southern Iceland was very picturesque as you can see in the video.  At the end of our 7 days, we had driven the entire countryside plus the peninsula and westfjords.  Just walking, we put in 44 miles.  Needless to say, it was a lot of driving (completely different from our last vacation where we spent our time in a safari jeep with a guide) but J was such a trooper and he was constantly marveling at the ever shifting and beautiful landscape.

Next on the agenda was Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach.  

Diamond beach was just spectacular.  Its sands were finer than that at Reynisfjara and its jet black color was just brilliant set against the glittering glacial diamonds.  J happily munched on ice chunks while I oohed and aahed at the surreal nature of Iceland.  It was here where we saw our first seals (the second time where we were able to get really close to an entire pod was documented on my facebook).

We spent that night in Höfn then made our way towards Iceland’s second largest urban area, Akureyri but not before making a stop at Goðafoss, the “Waterfall of the Gods” and Grjótagjá, Jon Snow’s love cave.

The cave next door to Grjótagjá is locked up unfortunately as it was also being trashed 🙁

Before heading west, we made our way to our first hot pot, Fosslaug (more on all the hot pots and springs we visited on my 3 Free Places Better Than The Blue Lagoon post)

Situated next to a waterfall, we spent the morning here before driving to the westfjords to J’s favorite waterfall, Dynjandi.

The next day was my birthday so J picked out a jaw dropping spot to camp and we woke up to another epic view and headed towards Hellulaug to spend the day luxuriating in natures bounty.

Water was such an essential component to our trip.  It surrounded us there as it does here on our little rock and the pure quality of it allowed us to not only drink our fill, it supported life all around and allowed us to submerge ourselves in naturally formed hot springs and bask in the greatness of waterfalls galore.

If you’re feeling a magnetic pull to Iceland like we did but don’t have a lot of time, I would recommend the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.  (Check out my Iceland Money Saving and Travel Tips Post).  It was here that me and my husband took some time to really slow down and tuck into a special secret spot to meditate and take it all in.

They call this peninsula “Iceland in Miniature” because it contains all of Iceland’s main features in one compact location like a glacier that’s also a volcano (Snæfellsjökull), lava fields, waterfalls, Kirkjufell mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss (the most photographed mountain/waterfall combo), viking relics, and black and white sand beaches.

On our last 2 days, J came back on a high from diving Silfra (a site that reveals an underwater world between two continents) and brought back water that had been filtered through volcanic rock for 65 years.  We also discovered ravines, trekked up lava fields, stumbled upon a sunbathing pod of seals, visited Gulfoss, then walked the streets of Reykjavik.  As our last and final stop, we hiked uphill for about an hour to arrive to the hot springs of Reykjadalur (see my hot springs post).

In one word, Iceland was magic and I truly hope we can all work together to keep not only Iceland, but all parts of our planet beautiful.

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