Gentle Giants in Husavik

Gentle Giants in Husavik

Published: 17. August 2017

I managed to participate in a handful of activities over my road trip in North Iceland with Happy Campers this summer. One of the activity highlights- over the entire trip- was taking Big Whale Safari & Puffins tour in Húsavik with Gentle Giants. Even to this day I rave about my experience with my friends and customers I meet at the office!

Gentle Giants has a history of 150 years of family history in Húsavík bay. With their expertise, they offer scheduled and custom tours depending on what you would like. Their fleet includes traditional oak ships, mighty-fast RIB boats, and even a fiberglass boat. I opted for the RIB speedboat to ensure I could get up close and personal with the “gentle giants” of the sea.

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Iceland´s Into the Glacier Experience

Iceland´s Into the Glacier Experience

Published: 24. July 2017

After living in Iceland for a while, I thought it was time to finally experience a glacier first hand. And what better way to explore a glacier than with Into the Glacier, a company specializing in tours inside the longest ice tunnel in the world at 1220 meters. So off I went mid-June on a Happy Camper road trip to the second largest glacier in Iceland, Langjökull where the western side of the country sources their fresh water (the water you're drinking in Reykjavík right now took a couple of centuries to reach your tap!).

No matter what time of the year you plan to visit the glacier, remember the temperature always stays chilly at 0°C. Into the Glacier recommends water repellent boots, hat, and layers, similar to our essential packing guide. It also took some time to reach the tunnel, so snacks and a water bottle is recommended during the transfers. Once at Klaki Base Camp ("Klaki" translates to ice cube), you'll be able to see a map pinpointing (in blue) the different locations of the tour including Húsafell shuttle pick up, Klaki Base Camp, and of course the entrance of Into the Glacier.

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A Rejuvenating Experience at Myvatn Nature Baths

A Rejuvenating Experience at Myvatn Nature Baths

Published: 13. July 2017

The area of Lake Mývatn is a nature reserve and in its own right, a beautiful and untouched natural landscape. It has so much to offer and you can explore the surroundings for days if you wanted to focus on just one region of Iceland. This includes the geothermal power plant, Hverir hot springs, and Grjótagjá cave to name a few. But I was there for for a very special reason: to rejuvenate and take a dip in Mývatn Nature Baths.

For me, a road trip in Iceland means nothing without at least one dip in a pool or hot tub. And that's exactly what I set off to do at the tail end of my adventure in Northern Iceland! My decision to bathe in the late evening was the best way to cap off the night for a an even better rest as I had a long ride to Reykjavík the next day. It's only a 4 minute drive from the local campground, too! With geothermal water temperatures ranging from 36-40C along with rejuvenating minerals, this man-made lagoon was sure to spoil me. Here's my lowdown on my wonderful spa evening:

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Pólar Hestar Horseback Riding in North Iceland

Pólar Hestar Horseback Riding in North Iceland

Published: 9. July 2017

Happy Campers made a very special visit to Pólar Hestar, a horseback riding tour company in Grenivík. and it was definitely one of the highlights of my epic road trip through Northern Iceland. I remember my excitement the weeks leading up to the tour after getting in touch with Juliane, one of the owners. I couldn't wait to finally ride the beautiful, Icelandic horse, and have to admit I checked out their live webcam every so often. So, I ended up choosing the 2-hour tour around the farm's surrounding landscapes and my, oh my, did we have a unique experience.

Looking back, I've trained at a horse summer camp as well as done other quick tours, like through the Arizona desert. All of these were so much fun, but if I'm going to be honest, this most recent horseback riding trip has topped them all! And there were several factors as to why:

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Camping Out Reykjavik Pride

Camping Out Reykjavik Pride

Published: 1. July 2017

People rent our fabulous campervans for all kinds of trips in Iceland. They rent them to drive the south coast and see cute animals. They rent them to camp out for Secret Solstice and Iceland Airwaves. Generally just Happy things, right? But have you ever thought about camping out at a Pride festival? It may actually be the best way to go to Hinsegin dagar 2017, the Reykjavík Pride festival this August 8 - 13. Lemme fill you in on all the T and none of the shade: Happy Campers can set you up loud and proud with a perfect pride-mobile for the festival.

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South Iceland's Slakki Petting Farm Experience

South Iceland's Slakki Petting Farm Experience

Published: 26. June 2017

If you love animals and like getting up close and personal with them, I can highly recommend visiting Slakki Petting Farm in Southwest Iceland, a family-run attraction. It's the perfect family fun trip to get to know some local animals as you tour Iceland. And it's not just for families. Oh, no. I went with my friend, Ása, on a day trip from Reykjavík after she told me all about it. So, if you're asking yourself, "What should I do in Iceland?", Slakki is a place you need to consider!

I couldn't resist saying yes, so we went in the beginning of June when the baby animals finally made their public debut. It really was cute overload with calves, rabbits, turtles, guinea pigs, kittens, kids, ducklings, and even an arctic fox. Not only do they have the farm, they also have a playground for younger families (I attempted the electric bulldozer in the sandpit), restaurant, mini golf course, and pool table. Admission is 1000isk per adult and half price- if not free- for teens and younger children. Opening hours are from 11 until 18.

It's easily reachable from the Ring Road (Route 1) and can be navigated with our Garmin GPS or wifi, both available as add-ons. Slakki can be found in Laugarás, a little over half hour drive from Selfoss when you take Road 30 and then left again on 31. Just drive past the entrance and you'll locate the gravel parking lot to the right where there is also a toilet, an ideal pitstop before or after the visit. There are quite a few campsites in the surrounding areas if you choose to stay overnight in the south of Iceland before or after your animal adventure.

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Reykjavik Record Shopping

Reykjavik Record Shopping

Published: 22. June 2017

Iceland has a very peculiar music scene. It's well known for Secret Solstice, Iceland Airwaves , and many other music festivals, but the local shop scene is also well endowed. 101 is the hub of all things vinyl, LP, and old school. That being said, you can rifle through the stacks and find anything from 1960's Icelandic Christmas music, to the newest ethereal band on offer.

My suggestion is: roll up your sleeves and get flippin'. There's plenty of records to check out, new and old. Here are my suggestions for finding the best records 64 degrees north:

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​Reykjavik Food Walk

​Reykjavik Food Walk

Published: 19. June 2017

It should come as no surprise by now that I love food. I’ve already shared my favourite budget eats around Reykjavík as well as my burger experience on Vestmannaeyjar. What if I told you there was an epic tour named Reykjavík Food Walk dedicated to traditional foods of Iceland? And what if I also told you the tour consisted of eating your way through downtown? If this isn’t a dream tour, I don’t know what is!

So I had to get in touch with the owners of Wake Up Reykjavík who kindly accommodated Happy Campers in the morning. Now you’re probably thinking, “Lea, you ate rotten shark, sheep’s head, and Brennivín in the morning?”. Although it’s correct to say these are traditional fare, Wake Up Reykjavík chooses to take a different approach and share what locals love to eat today, showing family-run businesses, unknown hangouts, and the newest shops on the block. All of these food destinations take pride in their creations, so it was of utmost importance we arrived with an empty stomach and open mind.

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​Journey to Vatnshellir Cave on Snaefellsnes

​Journey to Vatnshellir Cave on Snaefellsnes

Published: 23. May 2017

“Please turn off your personal flashlight and then close your eyes”, our tour guide, Soffía, said before turning off her super-powered lamp. “Now, open and listen.” Total darkness surrounded me, blinded without an ounce of light. Drip, drip, drip. Only the echoes of water splashing on my shoulder could be heard while everyone stood in silence on the uneven floor. To be able to indulge in one’s senses without hurry or distraction is an unusual, but pleasant feeling these days. And that’s exactly what my friend and I were able to experience recently on our journey to the center of the earth.

On a rainy Monday morning, my friend and I made our way from Reykjavík to Snæfellsnes peninsula where we were to participate on a snowmobile excursion with Summit Adventure Guides. Unsurprisingly, I got a call saying the tour was cancelled due to inclement weather, however, we were welcome to make our way over to the Vatnshellir Cave Tour, which runs rain or shine. We obliged and rerouted our handy GPS to the entrance of Snæfellsjökull National Park where we would meet our guide and descend into a deep, dark, lava tube!

Only a couple of kilometers into the park, we found a tiny gravel parking lot on the right hand side with a modest sign. My first impression was it didn’t look like much, with only the lot and a tiny wood shed. And the mood was mysterious as the mist from the rain floated just above ground. We were right on time and hoped to make the 11am tour and ran into the shed to get some information. We met a nice gentleman who checked us in and passed along a couple of hard helmets as well as flashlights. Once directed, we quickly joined the group where Soffía had just begun her introduction to “Undirheimar”, or “Underworld”.

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Horseback Riding

Horseback Riding

Published: 19. May 2017

The Icelandic horse is a one of a kind breed. Equestrians from all over the world agree. The horses that the vikings brought over from Norway have been on the island for so long without change. For this reason, modern caretakers of these horses are very protective of them. If you'd like the chance to ride one of these ancient stallions, you're best bet is with Ís Hestar Horseback Riding in Hafnarfjörður.

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The Real VikingSushi Adventure

The Real VikingSushi Adventure

Published: 11. May 2017

My friend and I recently went on our first campervan adventure together to Snæfellsnes along the west coast of Iceland. There was so much we were impressed about, including Stykkishólmur, one of the film locations you may recognize from Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It’s also known for the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum where my colleague, Michael, came face-to-face with one of Iceland’s elusive delicacies: rotten shark.

Wanting to try a more appetizing- but equally memorable- experience, Happy Campers teamed up with Seatours on their 2-hour guided VikingSushi Adventure to explore abundant nature and wildlife the area has to offer. Breiðafjörður Bay is located just north of Stykkishólmur, best explored by boat to discover both the interesting basalt rock formations inhabited by unique seabirds and the sea creatures lurking at the bottom of the bay.

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​Snorkeling in Silfra with Scuba Iceland

​Snorkeling in Silfra with Scuba Iceland

Published: 14. April 2017

If you're looking for a unique experience to cross off that bucket list of yours- and let's be honest, to tell all your family and friends about- look no further as I share Happy Campers' experience snorkeling in Silfra. Last weekend, we were graciously invited by Scuba Iceland to snorkel between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates and could not refuse their offer!

Whether you’ve visited Iceland previously or are planning to, you probably heard of this fun activity exclusive to Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir), a UNESCO Heritage Site and popular attraction located 45 minutes southeast of Reykjavík. Not only is Þingvellir home to Silfra, a rift connected to Þingvallavatn lake, it’s also a land of historical significance. Alþingi (Althingi), located not too far from Silfra, is the oldest parliament established in 930A.D., a must-visit sight.

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Happy Campers' Basic Guide to Icelandic

Happy Campers' Basic Guide to Icelandic

Published: 17. March 2017

Isolated and spoken by a population of less than 400,000 individuals, the Icelandic language is a beloved and proud part of Icelandic culture. Standard Icelandic is originally based on the 12th century Old Norse and then somewhat remodelled again in the 19th century by adding and subtracting letters and words. It’s comparable to German with four cases. If you’d like to learn more about the history and intricacies, take a look here.

Icelandic is so rare, a lot of folks I’ve met around the world are amazed Iceland even has its own language! And it happens to be one of the oldest and hardest to master as a foreigner. Fortunately, the locals are also experts in English, a more favourable language amongst travellers, so you can easily get by without trying to pronounce one of those ridiculous volcano names like Eyjafjallajökull*.

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Best Places to See the Northern Lights in Iceland

Best Places to See the Northern Lights in Iceland

Published: 24. February 2015

As an amateur photographer, there's nothing more exciting than capturing the northern lights. I suspect that I'm not alone about that, so I decided to write down my top 16 places to either watch or photograph the northern lights and hopefully you'll find it useful. To see the exact location of each spot, I put together this map.

General Northern Lights Tips

Before going through the list, there are a few general things that you should keep in mind before deciding on the perfect location.

  • Try seeing the northern lights during winter months, and close to midnight (or the darkest part of the day possible)
  • Make sure to bring warm clothes - this will make you more patient, which is crucial when shooting the northern lights
  • Keep the moonlight in mind (is it a full moon?)
  • Bring a sturdy tripod and a remote/cable shutter release trigger if possible
  • Bring a travel chair with you, to be extra comfy
  • Think about your composition and choose your location accordingly
  • Check the road conditions. You don’t want to get stuck somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
  • If you are considering a northern lights tour, I’d recommend reconsidering. You don’t need a ticket to see the northern lights (It’s nature’s gift to everybody!) A little bit of research is all you need.

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Top 10 Hidden Gems of Iceland

Top 10 Hidden Gems of Iceland

Published: 3. September 2013

Many travelers I talk to only have a few days in Iceland so they usually just stick to Route 1 (the ring road). In that case, I highly recommend checking out some of the more popular attractions, like the Blue Lagoon, Myvatn Nature Baths, Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon, the Golden Circle, and other popular tourists places close to Route 1. Doing the Golden Circle and then driving along the south coast is a very popular choice, for example. But for those who want to get the most out of their experience in Iceland, going off the beaten path is a must. When friends, family, and travelers ask me about my favorite attractions, I point to these hidden gems:

Seljavallalaug

What: Seljavallalaug is the oldest swimming pool in...

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