Finland Travelogue – (Part 4): Ice Fishing with Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park in Lapland

Fishing takes place all year round, even in winter. Ice fishing is actually a lot of fun, because we can move freely on the surface of rivers and lakes when they are frozen.

After the exhilarating reindeer and husky sleigh rides, our guide brought us to experience ice fishing.

We were pretty relaxed and did not hold much hope in catching any fish. Just for the experience of walking in a frozen lake and trying our hands in ice fishing for the first time.

The lake was covered with really thick snow. Our boots almost sank into the snow while walking which gave us discomfort of having ‘ice’ inside our boots and wetting the socks.

But we had our fun playing with the snow, which was pure white and soft!

To fish successfully, our guide used an ice drill with sharp blades to make a hole in the ice.

Our guide was experienced. Though it looked difficult to us, he made the drilling process looked so simple.

It just less than 3 minutes, water splashed out of the hole!

Attaching the bait on our mini-rod, we tried our hand at ice fishing for the first time. We did not bare too much hope as timing is important to increase your chances to catch fishes. It was nearing to evening time. The best timing for fishing is usually early in the morning when the fishes are active, alert and hungry.

The water surface started to freeze after a while.

We had no idea why it was so much colder over here at the frozen lake. Big and Small M dropped the fishing rod and took refuge at our van. The last thing we wanted was for them to experience any frostbite 😦

A point to note when visiting Lapland during the winter, do not try to save and buy cheap winter clothings. Visitors are often up against the harshest weather conditions in the Arctic Circle. So, do your research and get quality winter clothings at reasonable prices.

We completed the ice fishing and our guide brought us to the log cottage to warm ourselves up and also…

Smoked some delicious hotdogs for us!

Up next, we will be experiencing more Christmas magic at the SantaPark – Santa’s own Home Cavern that is located just underneath the Arctic Circle. The jolly and cheerful elves guide you through a fun day with our whole family!

Read our adventures in Stockholm and Iceland before hitting Finland!

Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park Oy is located in Santa Claus Village at the Arctic Circle in Finland.

Address:
Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park
Santa Claus Village
Joulumaantie 5
96930 Arctic Circle
Finland

Email:
Bookings and safari information
: info@snowmobilepark.com

Instagram: Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park
Facebook page: Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park
TripAdvisor: Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park

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All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

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Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 5): Aurora Bubble Hotel in Iceland – The 5 Million Star Hotel

Our one and only accommodation in Iceland has been our campervan. Yup, no hotel accommodation booked. We did, however, tried to book a hotel before coming to Iceland. Iceland’s “Bubble Hotel” –  The 5 Million Star Hotel, is an unique lodging concept that has taken travel to another level.

Opened early this year, the Bubble Hotel is so popular that it is fully booked and many travelers who wanted to catch this experience have to be put on waiting list. Needless to say, we were not able to book it and experience sleeping in the nature. It was only by chance, at the eleventh hour, that a booking was opened that we managed to book it!

The Dream Bubble

An interesting part of booking The Bubble Hotel is that the exact location will only be given upon booking confirmation. A clue is that is located at The Golden Circle route, and of course, in a forest. The Bubble is a dome-like structure made from transparent plastic into which warm air is pumped at a steady rate, keeping it inflated, and warm.

For the adventurous travelers, you can get to experience sleeping under the stars or watching the aurora borealis dance when it appears to fulfill one of your lifelong dreams. There is no guarantee of seeing the lights but rest assured, you will have a magical night when they appear.

As there are not a lot of trees in Iceland, creating a “bubble” lodging in the forest, sheltered by the trees, is probably the best answer to satisfy a desire to sleep and relax safely in the woods.

Inside the Bubble

The bubble has a heating system with thermostat so the bubble stays warm all winter. It offers a no-frills lodging for us who just want to experience the most of the nature. We stayed in Bubble Asta which has double bed. There are four of us. After including the kids, we paid about ISK $44,350 and it was shown as SGD $587 in the credit card statement for one day stay.

After checking in, Big and Small M fell asleep almost immediately.

Just earlier on, we had a misadventure when our campervan fell onto a slope. All thanks to the kind samaritans, they managed to pull our campervan back to safety.

Rescue in operation. Thank you so much!

Views of our Bubble from the outside. The Bubble stays inflated with a noiseless ventilation system that continuously refreshes the air to prevent humidity and adjust the temperature based on thermostat settings.

On Site Facilities

Just a stone’s throw from our Bubble is a shared service house with two toilets and showers and a self-service kitchen. Free coffee is given 🙂

Live Your Childhood Dream

Coming to one of the most beautiful countries on earth, Iceland, is already a dream experience. To top it up with a stay at The Bubble Hotel makes the whole trip even more sweet. Come and experience a magical stay at The Bubble Hotel and hey, book early!

Image Credit: https://www.buubble.com/
Image Credit: https://www.buubble.com/

Click here to know more about The Bubble Hotel in the Facebook

Click here to book The Bubble Hotel in the website.

Click here to read blog post on Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 4): Svinafellsjokull, Icelandic Horses and Strokkur Geysir

Click here to read blog post on Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 3): Svartifoss, Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls

Click here to read blog post on Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 2): Hvannadalshnukur, Skeioararsandur Bridge Monument and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Click here to read blog post on Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 1): Renting a Campervan and 8 Tips on Self Driving in Iceland

Interested to visit Iceland? Click here to follow Katong Kids Inc Facebook Page to stay tune on the next travel post.
Disclosure: All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 4): Svinafellsjokull, Icelandic Horses and Strokkur Geysir

Iceland had always been one of our dream vacations. Exploring Iceland’s untouched and beautiful landscape has become an educational journey for us. The country is popularly visited during summer due to the mid-night sun effect where it never gets fully dark between mid-May and early August. Come winter, a muted light shines over the island for a few short hours each day. There are lesser visitors and the entire experience was just us and nature.

Svínafellsjökull

On our way to Golden Circle, we passed by beautiful Svínafellsjökull which is a breathtaking outlet glacier of the Vatnajökull glacier and the scenery and views are simply stunning. There are glacier tours available where you get to walk through a wonderland of glacial ice sculptures, meandering through ice ridges and the deep crevasses of the glacier.

There aren’t a lot of trees in Iceland (we only realized after our trip!). Iceland is a volcanic land and it is filled with many glaciers and countless other natural wonders.

The Icelandic Horse

One of the purest breed on earth, the Icelandic horse is a unique breed of smallish horses that came to Iceland with the first settlers from Norway 1100 years ago. Archeological digs in Europe have revealed that it is descendent from an ancient breed of horses that is now extinct outside of Iceland, where it has been preserved in isolation.

Do you know that once an Icelandic horse leaves Iceland it is not allowed to enter back into the country? All around the country, nearly every field seems to be filled with them, slowing grazing or play-fighting with each other. They are cute in their little own ways.

Icelandic horses have heavy double layer coats to help protect them from the harsh Icelandic climate. They come in many colors and can even appear in up to 42 different color combinations! Some types of Icelandic horses coats even change color by seasons. Best of all, Icelandic horses are super friendly. They will walk towards you readily and allow you to cuddle them. A road trip in Iceland is never completed without experiencing the therapeutic effect of Icelandic horses.

Strokkur Geysir

Strokkur (the churn) is currently the most energetic spouting spring in Iceland. It is a much-visited geothermal geyser that erupts every 8–10 minutes and reaches heights of 20 meters. According to history, it was set off during an earthquake in 1789, having then been quiescent for some time.

Big M was too comfortable resting in the campervan while we were on long road trip. The first thing she did when alighting from the campervan was to take a deep breath and inhale the wonderful and pure Icelandic air.

The Geysir is a popular tourist spot and one of the main attractions in Golden Circle. It was no surprise to see many visitors here.

Take a walk around the area and the smell of sulphur permeates the air. We remembered the time we were in Taiwan at 小油坑 Xiao You Keng experiencing sight of bubbling water and smouldering fumaroles on Yangmingshan which you can read in our blog here.

A bit of geography lesson.

The Strokkur Geysir erupts every few minutes so this is going to be a rewarding trip as we can get to see it erupting many times.

Waiting and waiting…

Picture time while waiting 🙂

Up and away to the heavens!

We waited and we filmed the action 🙂

It is worthwhile to note that most visitors focus on witnessing Strokkur erupting but may have missed out on other geothermal features such as mud pools, fumaroles and other geysers which are located around it. As the sun sets on the horizon, it created a dreamy effect on the landscape.

Geysir Center

Just across Strokkur Geysir is the Geysir Center. It was getting dark and this was probably the only place for us to explore.

A place to shop for souvenirs and clothings.

While we have our brands of winter clothing back in Singapore, we thought Iceland has its own high quality winter wear by 66°NORTH.

Fresh Icelandic Mountain Air on sale!

We had our dinner at the food court in Geysir Center. It looks pretty similar to Ikea’s dining concept.

The menu is special to us as it is uniquely Icelandic.

Traditional Icelandic lambmeat soup.

An idea of what we ordered. So many Icelandic dishes to try but our stomach are limited.

Fish of the Day

Chicken Nuggets.

Delicious chicken wings.

We just love traditional Icelandic lambmeat soup.

Dessert time! How about trying some Icelandic ice cream?

We felt Icelandic dishes are really delicious and what a perfect way to pamper our tastebuds on this road trip. It’s no secret that visiting Iceland could be pricey so be prepared to spend for a trip here. For example, the Fish of the Day cost about SGD $23, chicken wings/nuggets SGD $16 and Icelandic lambmeat soup about SGD $32 (assuming SGD $1 = ISK $56 from the rate at the airport).

There are many reasons to love this small Nordic country and discover why you should visit Iceland once in your lifetime. We found our reason and probably hope that we can be here again.

Click here to read blog post on Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 3): Svartifoss, Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls

Click here to read blog post on Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 2): Hvannadalshnukur, Skeioararsandur Bridge Monument and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Click here to read blog post on Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 1): Renting a Campervan and 8 Tips on Self Driving in Iceland

Interested to visit Iceland? Click here to follow Katong Kids Inc Facebook Page to stay tune on the next travel post.
Disclosure: All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

 

Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 3): Svartifoss, Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls

A visit to Iceland is not completed without appreciating its water elements. Iceland is full of beautiful waterfalls and they can be found everywhere. Each waterfall is different in its own way and has its own story to tell.

Svartifoss (Black Falls)

As we departed from Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, we made our way to visit Svartifoss waterfall. Svartifoss is a waterfall in Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland, and is one of the most popular sights in the park. It is surrounded by dark lava columns, which gave rise to its name.

There are plenty of parking lots when you reached the Vatnajokulspjodgardur national park visitor centre.

You can book glacier walks here.

The visitor centre is open all year round. Over here, you can also buy souvenirs, hot beverages and use its toilet facilities. There are also some interesting exhibits of rock over here.

To reach Svartifoss waterfall, you need to take a walk along the trail. The distance is 1.8km long with slight gradual elevation which will take about 40 min to reach.

The hiking trail to Svartifoss waterfall.

Look at Big and Small M’s flying hair 🙂

It was extremely windy and chilly! Remember to bring along waterproof clothing on your way up to Svartifoss waterfall.

The name of the falls translated into something like “Black Falls” which might be attributable to the darkness of the underlying basalt columns.  The 12m waterfall is breathtaking, with black columnar basalt formations which beautifully frame the waterfall and attribute to its name, Black fall.

Lovely Svartifoss waterfall.

The way back to the visitor centre is a descending path. A lot of walking is required. If you are traveling as adults, it should be fine. However, with kids around remember to ensure they are dressed properly and watch out for loose rocks on your trek up the slopes.

During the road trip, waterfalls are commonly found in tourist attractions and villages. As we delve further, we saw Icelandic people building their houses beside waterfalls. Can you imagine how beautiful it is to wake up every morning with the sight and sound of waterfall in their backyard? So natural, relaxing and enchanting. A perfect retirement place?

Skogafoss Waterfall

The Skógafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in the country with a width of 25 metres (82 feet) and a drop of 60 m (200 ft). Due to the amount of spray the waterfall consistently produces, a single or double rainbow is normally visible on sunny days. Legend has it that a Viking named Thrasi hid his hoarded gold under the falls.

On the right side of the picture shows the 370 steps that you can climb to the top of Skogafoss waterfall to get a panoramic view of the water flow and out over southern Iceland’s coastline. It would be challenging for Big and Small M to walk up the steps so it was a no-go for us.

The beautiful scenery of Skogafoss makes a perfect ground for Icelandic people to reside nearby.

Black gravels are a common sight in Iceland.

Waterproof clothing is essential when you take a walk towards Skogafoss waterfall. The water mist promises to drench you in matter of few minutes when you dwell there.

Bringing a good camera during a trip to Iceland is important. Capturing precious moments of the kids against the backdrop of the awe-inspiring Skogafoss…

Aside from the millions of gallons of glacial melt-water cascading over this huge cliff, Skogafoss offers camping and hiking for the adventurous visitor.  The unique thing about Skogafoss is that the waterfall comes directly from two glaciers.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

20km from Skogafoss is the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. This “do not miss” waterfall is one of the most attractive waterfalls in Iceland. Visitors travel to explore this waterfall all year round.

During the night, lightings are put up around the waterfall. We parked our campervan at Seljalandsfoss waterfall and this is the view from the inside of our “abode”. It was freezing cold and dark at night. The likelihood of slippery ground is important for one to bring a bright touchlight when walking towards the waterfall.

Morning beckons and Seljalandsfoss comes alive. Beside the car park, there are gift shop and cafe for visitors to dine and appreciate the nature. Toilet facilities are available as well.

The waterfall drops 60 m (197 ft) and is part of the Seljalands River that has its origin in the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull. One of the interesting things about this waterfall is that visitors can walk behind it into a small cave.

Falling 65m over an old sea cliff, Seljalandsfoss is waterfall that you can walk behind. As you circle the falls, you can see it from all angles. Rainbows appear when the sun shines, giving it a magical appearance while the thundering sound of the waterfall plays in the background. On the right of the picture is the trek that leads to the small cave. The splashing of Seljalandsfoss waterfall makes it so wet that it is akin to taking a spa bath!

Seljalandsfoss depicts a picture of a romantic story. Relax at Seljalandsfoss waterfall by reading a book, sipping over a cup of hot coffee in the freezing weather or even more romantic, proposing to your partner 🙂

Interested to visit Iceland? Click here to follow Katong Kids Inc Facebook Page to stay tune on the next travel post.
Disclosure: All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 2): Hvannadalshnukur, Skeioararsandur Bridge Monument and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

We started our Iceland journey by taking a Icelandair flight from Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN) to Keflavik International Airport (KEF). Icelandair is one of the direct flights which takes 3 hours 10 minutes to reach our destination. Iceland is 8 hours behind Singapore time. During the flight, we were given a treat of “Northern Lights” display.

The entire flight was dreamy and so surreal.

Inflight entertainment and Icelandic snacks (for kids) are provided.

GETTING TO KNOW ICELAND

 During our travel, it becomes an educational trip for us as we get to know more about other countries. We thought it is money well-spent as Big and Small M are able to get first hand experiences and creating our blog becomes a mobile diary for them to remember their growing up years.

  1. Where is Iceland?

Iceland is a North Atlantic island and the westernmost country in Europe, midway between North America and mainland Europe. It is a country of extreme contrasts and widely known as “The Land of Fire and Ice”. Home to some of the largest glaciers in Europe, and some of the world’s most active volcanoes, Iceland is also the land of light and darkness. Long summer days with nearly 24-hours of sunshine are offset by short winter days with only few hours of daylight.

2. What is Iceland’s population?

Iceland has a population of slightly more than 300,000 and 2/3 of them stay in its capital city, Reykjavík.

3. What is Iceland’s currency?

The currency used in Iceland is the Icelandic Krone (pronounced “krona”), ISK. We were told by moneychangers back in Singapore that Euro is used in Iceland, only to learn that Iceland has its own currency. Credit cards are widely used in Iceland and you would not need to use cash most of the time. We exchanged the krona at Keflavik International Airport and immediately fell in love with this beautifully designed currency that we were hesitant to use them.

4. Buying Icelandic Prepaid SIM card

You must know how important it is to get updated on the weather and road conditions in Iceland especially during winter. Staying connected is a must in Iceland! We bought Siminn Prepaid SIM card from the convenience store from Keflavik International Airport arrival hall. Remember to bring along your mobile needle (smallest & most useful item) to change the SIM card if you are using iphone. There are 2 types of prepaid SIM card:

Síminn Prepaid Data – Mobile data only, with easy refill on the go. Included is a SIM card and 1 GB at the start.

Síminn Prepaid Starter Pack – Included is a SIM card, 100 min talk, 100 text messages and 1 GB of data on our network. This is highly recommended as you never know you may need to make emergency phone calls during your road trip.

5. Drinking Icelandic tap water and breathing Icelandic air

Yes, you can drink Icelandic tap water. Not only it’s free of charge, it is one of the purest and most delicious water on earth! Drink as much as you can to detox. Even the pure Icelandic Mountain Air is on sale as souvenirs. We were told by our car rental company that a South Korean couple rented a campervan from them and instead of driving much, they spent most of their time sleeping in Iceland as the air is so pure and therapeutic that they have never experienced that before in their life.

RENTING A CAMPERVAN

Coming to Iceland is all about exploring the country. We rented a campervan and it became our “hotel” accommodation. We drive, cook, eat and sleep in our campervan. Click here to read our previous blog post on renting campervan and 8 tips on road driving in Iceland.

We were fetched at Keflavik International Airport by the car rental company personnel after we arrived. At the warehouse, we spent about 2 hours on car inspection and briefing on how to operate the campervan. We also went through the insurance policy and the dos and don’ts in Iceland before hitting the roads.

OUR ROAD TRIP

The Golden Circle covers more than 300 km and the Ring Road (the main national road) covers over 1,300 km. We were ambitious and planned to visit Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon within the same night after collecting our campervan. By the time we departed from the warehouse, it was 7pm. Recall that night comes early during winter and sky usually gets dark by 3pm.

Image Credit: Guide to Iceland

The distance to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is about 418km or 5 1/2 hours assuming we drive at a speed of 80km/hr (this is also provided that the weather is fine). To give you an idea of how far it is, just remember the distance from Singapore to KL is about 360km and Perth Airport to Margaret River takes about 280km.

And so we hit the roads. The thing about Iceland is the extreme personality – beautiful landscape but yet unpredictable weather. Those not used to Icelandic conditions might be amazed not only how quickly the weather can change but also how much it can differ from one place to another. The weather can be fine and not a snowflake in sight and yet after an hour drive or two conditions might have changed drastically, with even a snow blizzard and strong wind.

Big and Small M were exhausted by all the flight and car thingy that they were soundly asleep. We were trying to get use to driving manual gear and familiarizing with the campervan. The weather was fine for the first hour. However as we departed from Reykjavík and entered into the rural areas, the weather started to get inclement. We were negotiating the blind curves and out came strong wind gust of up to 30m/s slapping against the sides of our campervan so strongly that the campervan interior lights (which were switched off), started to flicker and turned on by themselves. I was grabbing the steering wheel tightly to prevent the vehicle from veering off the tracks. At times, I could feel the tyres did not seem to have a good grip on the road. The best I could do was to drive in the middle lane whenever the road ahead was clear of other cars.

Oblivious to Big and Small M, it was a pretty scary sight. Campervan has a larger surface area which is able to collect winds like blankets compared to smaller cars and it does not have a low centre of gravity. We were kind of regret getting a campervan and not knowing the dangers it may bring now that it is winter period, not to mention being during the night time. We were praying really hard!

 

To give you an idea how crazy the winds that we experienced were, this video is a good example. Accidents are real. In May this year, a caravan was blown off the road due to a powerful gust in Iceland.

We managed to cover about 180km (out of 418km) after more than 2 hours. Along the way, we came across this motel and decided to park here and rest for the night in our campervan as we were too exhausted and needed to recover from the ordeal 😦

The night was really cold due to strong winds. Although there was heater in our campervan, we were curling up like hamsters in midst of coldness. Ensure you have sufficient thick socks and clothings apart from the bed linens provided in the campervan. We slept for about 6 hours and feeling refreshed, continued our journey.

Along our way, we stopped by Skaftárskáli which is a gas station in the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur just by the road nr.1. There you can buy most necessites such as gasoline, basic groceries, etc. There is also a Grill-Restaurant selling hot dogs, fish and chips etc.

As the first beam of light appears, we were given a wonderful treat of sighting stunning Icelandic landscapes. It was a far cry from the urban concrete jungle we experienced back in Singapore.

Hvannadalshnukur & Skeiðarársandur Bridge Monument

We were trying to stay on track with our itinerary. However, some attractive spots were too irresistible for us not to stop to take pictures. 

We arrived at the foot of Hvannadalshnukur (pronounced KWANNA-dalsh-nyooker) which is the highest peak in Iceland at 2110 meters. It is actually the highest point on a crater rim of the massive volcano, Oræfajökull, located in extreme southeast Iceland only a few kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean.

Beneath it is a little-known monument located in the southeastern part of Iceland, made of the remnants of the Skeiðará Bridge. Once the longest span in Iceland, the Skeiðará Bridge comprised a portion of the Icelandic ring road. The bridge carried drivers across the Skeiðarár Sandur, a wide plain of black volcanic sand marbled with creeks of run-off from the Skeiðarárjökull glacier. All that remains of the original bridge today are two twisted girders by the side of the new road. They form a unique monument to the lovely but powerful beauty of Iceland’s natural landscape.

Bridge destroyed by the jökulhlaup on Skeiðarársandur in November 1996

We could only say the sight was breathtaking. From far, it looks like an ocean with strong currents only to realize they are frozen in all stillness. If you are adventurous enough, you can consider doing mountain trekking up Hvannadalshnukur.

Not forgetting to capture this magnificent moment before moving off.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Icebergs. Beautiful picturesque environment. These spell out what Jökulsárlón-Glacier lagoon is all about. One of Icelands most visited places, Jökulsárlón put up a show with its majestic display of icebergs floating in the waters. It was freezing cold and raining when we arrived.

Jökulsárlón ehf. has been offering boat tours on the lagoon for over 25 years. The boat tours are in operation from April to November (depending on weather) and the café is open all year.

 Visitors were pulling out their tripod and snapping pictures away. Ensure your camera is shielded from the rain during the trip by getting a waterproof casing to wrap over.

The pure natural art and spectacular sight made us forget the coldness for that moment.

It’s freezing cold!

Despite the rain, we strolled along the beach to explore more of the glaciers.

The icebergs are ice chunks falling off the Breidamerkurjokull Glacier. An interesting fact about Jokulsarlon Lagoon is that it is actually the deepest lake in all of Iceland, and the lowest point in the country.

How can we not fall in love with Jökulsárlón-Glacier lagoon?

We guess traveling 418km is all worth it. We hope to visit this place again.

Interested to visit Iceland? Click here to follow Katong Kids Inc Facebook Page to stay tune on the next travel post.
Disclosure: All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 1): Renting a Campervan and 8 Tips on Self Driving in Iceland

Iceland has a story to tell. The beauty of Iceland travels far and wide and we knew in our hearts that it is a must to visit this country – someday. Reality cannot compete with imagination. The beautiful landscapes look so stunning in pictures and they were breathtaking during our trip there.

We kick off our Iceland’s travelogue by introducing the best way to travel. That is self driving. The Golden Circle covers more than 300 km and the Ring Road (the main national road) covers over 1,300 km. By self-driving, we get to travel at your own pace and explore Iceland’s majestic nature, with its national parks, beautiful waterfalls, striking glaciers, magnificent volcanoes and geothermal areas.

RENTING A CAMPERVAN

Driving in Iceland is a different ball game. The driver’s seat is on the left-side and driving is on the right lane. That’s 360 degree different from our driving in Singapore. We scouted many car rental companies and finally managed to rent a Fiat Ducato campervan which the best we could find. As it is winter season, renting any bigger vehicle may not be readily available as Iceland’s weather is erratic and unpredictable posing dangers to bigger vehicles.

Hey, back to driving manual gear after a long time.

After arriving at Keflavik Airport, we were picked up by our car rental company personnel and here we are, at the warehouse going through car inspection and briefing before hitting the roads.

One of the best features we love about renting a campervan is the availability of beds to sleep while we are on the go. For this trip to Iceland, we were adventurous and didn’t book any hotel accommodation before arriving at Keflavik Airport. We have many places to cover and having heard many stories of harsh weather conditions and impassable roads, we have no idea where we will be stopping at the end of each day.  Thus, it doesn’t make sense to book hotel accommodation and realizing that we may not be able to reach the destination due to unforeseen circumstances. So, we take each step as it goes.

The campervan has sleeping facilities for up to four. It has a kitchen with a stove, sink, small fridge with a freezer and basic utilities including heater. Everything is included in the price, toiletries, kitchen appliances, covers for the bed and propan gas for the stove.

There is a toilet with a washing basin. The campervan can fill up to 100 liters of water for usage.

Mum’s little kitchen. We get to cook and eat along our way 🙂

We can also store our luggages at the back of the campervan.

8 TIPS ON DRIVING IN ICELAND

Singaporeans do not need to apply for international driving license to drive in Iceland. Some important tips to know if you decide to self-drive:

  1. Download 112 Iceland App.

The 112 Iceland app can be used for two things, both for added safety on your Iceland trip.

Red Emergency button – When you activate this red button, your location will be sent by text message to the 112 response center. Remember that even though your phone shows no signal there is a possibility that you can send text message.

Green Check In button –  For you to leave your location for Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue if something happens they have more information to worked with. It is able to store your last 5 locations.

2. Apply for Maximum Car Insurance Coverage

Check here for more information on safe travel in Iceland. Better to be safe than sorry. Get the maximum coverage for a peace of mind. The conditions can be dangerous and unpredictable especially during winter. Even the most experienced driver may never know what will happen. We personally experience storms, blizzards, blind hills, blind curves and extremely low road visibility during the night that we need to use high beam for most of the journey. At times, strong winds were slapping the campervan vigorously at both sides that the steering wheel had to be held tightly before the vehicle veered off the tracks.

Accidents are real and can happen anytime. Our campervan almost flipped when the side tyres fell into the slope and couldn’t recover back to the road.

It was raining and we were in the middle of the forest. We thank the Lord for His protection as we met an Icelandic couple who helped us to call the farmers to use a jeep to pull our campervan out of the slope.

3. Credit Card Pin Number is Required

We never know credit card pin number is needed until this trip. The petrol kiosks in Iceland are self-service and you need to key your credit card pin number in order to activate the pump. The cheapest fuel station is Orkan.

4. Speed Limit / Speed Camera

The general speed limit is 50km/hr in urban areas, 80km/hr on gravel roads in rural areas, and  90km/hr on asphalt roads and 70km/hr in tunnels. There are speed cameras located all over the country monitoring the speed.

5. Road Assistance

The Road and Coastal Administration (IRCA) uses this website to circulate information about road conditions and the weather. Roads may become impassable the next moment and you may not be able to reach your hotel. No wonder it is more popular to visit Iceland during summer. Check here to get the updated information on road conditions and weather.

Image Credit: http://www.vegagerdin.is

6. Local Weather Website

Click here to get updated latest weather forecast. You can plan your itinerary beforehand but always be prepared to change your course during the road trip due to changing weather conditions.

Image Credit: http://www.vedur.is

7. Aurora Forecast

Here’s the real deal. Aurora Borealis season in northern polar latitudes (Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Siberia) runs from August to April. Everyone is chasing the aurora and so are we! There is no guarantee of sighting the aurora but you can still refer to the forecast here to increase your chances. The white shaded part indicates the sky clear from clouds, increasing likelihood of aurora sightings. Green shaded part indicates the sky is covered with clouds, so very low chances of catching Ms. Aurora 🙂

Image Credit: http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/

8. Cheapest Grocery Stores

The 3 cheapest supermarkets in Iceland are Bonus, Kronan and Netto. Stock up your supplies in these stores during your road trip.

WE EAT, COOK & SLEEP OUTDOORS

Hey, we experienced brand new adventures everyday in Iceland! Thousands of miles were covered…

And for first time, we get to sleep outdoors in a campervan. No parking fee is required. We can park anywhere that is safe from other traffic. We rested at petrol station, next to motel, waterfalls, volcano, glaciers and many more.

Some say Iceland is the most beautiful country on earth. What do you think? You should be here too! Stay tune for more blog posts on our Iceland travelogue.

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