Travel Diary: 10 Days Car Camping in Iceland (Pt. 1)

This past summer, Luno's founder, Pete Ducato, chose to practice what we preach here at Luno with a spontaneous 10-day car camping trip around Iceland. He was kind enough to chronicle his wild ride amongst the rolling greenery and breathtaking waterfalls. From mountain biking to skydiving, Pete made sure to leave no adventure inexperienced at this bucket list destination. Read on for a peek into his travel diary while car camping in Iceland.

Day 1: Hella, Iceland

Iceland is a dream. I’ve been here for less than 24 hours and can already feel that this place is a bucket list destination. I decided to come here exactly five minutes prior to booking my flight and am confident it’s the best decision I’ve made in a while. After getting off the plane in Hella I decided that for the sake of everyone within a 15-feet radius of me, I had to brush my teeth before I did anything else. After restoring my dental hygiene I headed to the rental car office and picked up my trusty steed, a 2018 Toyota Rav 4, for this epic adventure.

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Wasting no time, I hopped inside the car and headed straight to the skydiving Dropzone in Southern Iceland to see if I could get my daily fix of adrenaline. I thought my odds were pretty good considering the rare blue skies above looked like they were just begging to be jumped out of. But alas, no afternoon jumps were available. I reached out via Facebook to confirm a jump later in the week. Fingers crossed!

I continued south and came across the most insane waterfall I’ve ever seen. The sheer power of the rushing water took my breath away. I hiked up the side of the fall to get an even better view of the valleys and coastline below (the hike quite literally took my breath away). The burning in my quads was well worth it, as the view was unforgettable. All of the postcards in the world wouldn’t do the insane beauty of this place justice.

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I rounded out my first day here with a drive up a bumpy dirt road to the bluffs and cliff sides to check out the black sand beaches of Reynisfjara that I’ve heard so much about. The trippy dark sand makes it clear why this spot comes so highly recommended!

I headed into the seafront village of Vík and stopped to fuel up and hit the local grocery store before going inland to car camp for the night. After I loaded up on provisions, I drove down a pure black mineral road to my final destination. I’ll never forget the view of the dark road in contrast to the green hills and firey setting sun. I arrived and picked a flat spot with a view and cooked up a Chopped-worthy feast of lettuce wraps with avocado on pita bread for dinner. Before bed, I took advantage of the warm showers that are available at the nearby campsite before getting ready to sleep in my car. I hit the hay around 11 p.m. even though sunlight was, amazingly, still visible! I busted open the Luno Signature Air Mattress and made the bed faster than you can say, “Góða nótt!” (Goodnight)

Day 2: Vík í Mýrdal

Woke up around 8 a.m. with mountain biking on my mind! I rolled out of bed and into the driver's seat to head into Reykjavik. While I waited to meet the rest of the crew I would ride down with, I cooked up some eggs in my kitchen (see also: trunk) and whipped up the classic camping meal of PB&J sandwiches.

To say that today’s ride was an adventure would be like calling the Empire State Building a tall building—a vast understatement. The trail was unlike any other I’ve ever ridden before. The wild rush of bombing down the mountain was just the burst of adrenaline that I needed.

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After riding, I visited the pool and warmed up in some sick geothermal baths. I would describe these as nature’s hot tubs and my new best friend. It felt so good to relax in the warm water after a long day of excitement. Once my fingers turned sufficiently pruney I went into the city center to get some work done at a cafe.

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Tonight’s hotel was provided courtesy of the random parking lot I pulled into. The Hyatt Regency doesn’t hold a candle to my set up and trunkful of camping essentials.

Day 3: Reykjavik

Woke up at the crack of dawn (6 am) and headed to a coffee shop called Haiti in the hopes of a little early morning productivity.

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I ended up working for four hours before heading out to explore. Contrary to every other decision I’ve made on the trip thus far, I actually researched a bit for my next move. The worldwide web led me to head North for the ring road and Snæfellsnes peninsula. My first stop en route was a cliff vista, followed by yet another breathtaking waterfall. I kept driving and eventually ended up in a quaint town full of friendly locals.

I drove around to check out a few enticing restaurants and somehow ended up on a detour at an epic in-ground trampoline! I’m not sure who saw this cliff-top field and thought to themselves, “You know what would be great in this spot? A giant trampoline.” But I’m sure glad they did. I backflipped and belly bounced to my heart’s content.

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This area was beautiful and windy and I want to explore more here tomorrow so I decided to set up camp in a local coastal parking lot for the night. I cooked pasta with a pesto sauce and had pita bread as a side and had a beer...or two… or three.

Day 4: Kirkjufell

I definitely made the right call with staying here last night. I was woken up by the sunshine around 8 a.m. and immediately hear the ocean calling my name. I quickly whipped up breakfast on the picnic table outside the car and said a silent prayer to the Great Travel Gods to thank them for the mild breeze that was blowing through. I grabbed my drone and cameras and headed out to hike the coastal cliffside to see more of what Iceland has to offer.

After eating, I headed out towards the tip of the peninsula. I stopped at Hellnar to admire the giant rock formations that tower over the water. I took a quick trail run around the area and snapped a few shots of the once in a lifetime view.

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I kept driving and passed the giant Svödufoss Falls. Unfortunately, I was pressed for daylight and unable to stop to soak in the falls in their full glory. I knew that I would have another chance to enjoy waterfalls at the picturesque and popular Hraunfossar later on.

I reached what I thought was my final road trip destination for the day, Kirkjufell, and took a short walk around the falls to capture the water and mountains.

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As I was taking in the scenery and walking back to my car I noticed two ants moving up the towering mountain nearby. Upon realizing that these ‘ants’ were in fact hikers, I immediately researched online quick to see if the mountain was legal to climb. The Great Travel Gods were on my side once again! I immediately geared up and made my way to the top. The trek was grueling but 110% worth it.

After my impromptu climb, I hit the road and went into the town of Borgarnes to fuel up and stop at a coffee shop to make a few calls and work for a bit. I overheard two girls discussing the hike I just did while I was drinking my cappuccino. I told them that I had just done the hike and they were stoked to hear more. We ended up becoming friends and made plans to meet for more adventures in the near future!

I also took a quick pit stop to partake in yet another magnificent geothermal pool. This one was quaint in comparison to the one from a few days before, but exactly what the doctor ordered for my sore legs.

I arrived at my final destination, Hraunfossar Falls, at around 11:30 at night. I had a delicious and hearty dinner of the local fish I picked up from the market earlier today and set up my base camp. I parked right next to the waterfall so the white noise of the rushing water would lull me to sleep. This tactic has proven highly successful as I can barely keep my eyes open as I write this…

Day 5: Hofsós

Another morning woken up by the sunshine! I cooked a breakfast of boiled and pan-fried potatoes, eggs, and spinach and garnished my Michelin star-worthy dish with avocado and a side of cracked peppered & salted pretzels. I feasted on a picnic bench by the falls and washed everything down with a warming cup of green tea.

I packed up (car) camp in record time this morning. I’ve mastered the art of breaking down the Luno Signature Air Mattress and am unreasonably proud of my accomplishment. After gloating about my rapid takedown for an embarrassingly long time, I headed out to a pool that sits oceanside in Hofsós to relax.

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I’ve only had about 4-5 hrs of sleep these past few days, so an afternoon of rest was much needed. The hot tubs are kept at a toasty 38 degrees Celsius (104 degrees F), and the pool a refreshing 31 degrees (87 degrees F). I stayed here for about two hours to enjoy vast ocean views and the company of travelers from around the world.

On to Auyreki! This is my hub for the North Iceland portion of the trip. I arrived in town after an hour and a half drive and washed my muddy car with a “free” (free = self-service) car wash.

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Can’t wait to see what Northern Iceland has in store for the remainder of this trip!

. . . 

Stay tuned for Part Two to read about Pete’s skydiving experience, lucky rainbows, and more!

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