Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Things You Have To Know Before Camping In Iceland

I recently went on a press trip to Iceland, well basically press trip means my tours, activities, hotel stays, hostel stays are all sponsored or paid for. But guess what, I did not go for the easy stuff because I like torturing myself (as some of you might think). I rejected most accommodation offers, and I went tent camping in the wilderness instead, without a Wi-Fi hotspot, or a car, or a plan. Was I crazy? Probably yes, I almost broke down trying to set up my tent in the harshest weather in South Iceland, but if life were a movie, I’d probably click on that God-damn replay button again and again.   
Here are some things you have to know before you make this big decision to camp. 

1. Why camping?

If you are on a budget, young at heart and appreciate nature, camping would be your obvious best choice. It is considered the best way to experience Iceland! 
Side note: 
Most hostels in Iceland run about $50 per night… but The Galaxy Pod Hostel offers bunk beds from $30 and it is a charming, marvelous hostel. Do check them out.

2. About Camping Gears: Bring or Rent?

       You have 2 options: whether to bring your own gear from home or to rent them in Iceland. Chances are, you’ll be taking budget airlines, so you would want to avoid baggage fees (unless you are traveling in a group, you could probably split the cost.). Plus, if you are stopping in Iceland as a part of your big trip around Europe, do you really wanna drag a tent around all the time
       I rented my camping gears with Iceland Camping Equipment Rental. Apart from the rental office being right in the heart of Reykjavik, the owner Delphine is a very attentive person who will help you with the decision if you are a beginner in camping, not knowing what to rent.  
You can read more about my experience with Iceland Camping Rental Here. 

3. What do you need? 

       I am sort of a minimalist, so here is a list of gears and equipment I rented from Iceland Camping Equipment: a tent, a self-inflating air mattress, a sleeping bag, sleep linen, a plate, a bowl, cooking utensils, portable camping stove and an extra portable charger. 
      However, everyone has different needs so you might want to get a pillow or blanket to be more comfortable… so before picking up your gear, communicate with the staff via e-mail. Understand the weather conditions in Iceland, ask for their advice, make a list of what you need, and then pre-book them (you MUST, especially during summer camping season.)   
Read more: Camping Gears-- why do you need these and not those. 

4. About camping in a group.

In private land, tourists are forbidden to pitch more than 3 tents. The camping card is a great investment if you are camping as a family for more than 2 weeks. The card is valid for 2 adults and 4 children for a month. However, only 41 campsites participated in the program, so you might have to plan ahead of time if you want to use the card. 

5. Where to camp?

       You can camp anywhere in Iceland for free unless you see a sign that states otherwise. 
       However, it doesn't mean you should! Due to the fragile nature of the landscape, we could cause damage to the environment without even knowing it. Hence, I strongly encourage campers to stick to the trail and use designated campsites where they do exist. 
       If you are going to camp on private land, be sure to get permission from the owner. I bet you yourself don’t want to wake up in the morning only to find a stranger sleeping in your backyard, right? Other than that, you’ll only get a night on a private land. 
You can even camp in bigger cities like Reykjavik and Akureyri, but most campgrounds situated at the edge of the town or in the outskirts, so be ready to walk a little (about 15-30 minutes).  

6. The Facilities

Clearly, you won’t have access to toilets, tap water if you are spending a night on a free camping ground. So if you plan to be on the road for a longer period of time, plan to stay at paid campground every alternate day to use their bathrooms and electric sockets. Most campgrounds charge around 1.000 to 2.000 Icelandic Krona per night per person. 

7. About Food

       If you are a traveler traveling on a shoe-string budget, I recommend bringing dry ingredients into Iceland. Bread, energy bars, oats, spaghettis, Basmati rice, Malaysian’s favorite Maggie Goreng? Feel free to bring them. 
       And then, you can top up on fresh ingredients in “Bonus”, the most budget friendly supermarket in Iceland. 
       Over a week, I survived on mediocre camping food like tomato sauce spaghetti, oats with bananas and bread with tuna spread or peanut butter. I didn’t know how I made it through but this actually triggered me to go on a food-hunting spree once we set foot in the city. 
Read about my restaurant review here: Bryggjan, Strikid, Matur og Dryykur. 

Read more: What I ate during camping?

8. About the Weather

       Despite being called ICEland, it is not covered in ice. The average summer temperature in Reykjavik is always above 10°C, but sometimes it does get chilly at night... hence, you'll still need good sleeping bag and jacket. Try to layer your clothing too and bring a rain coat along. 
       According to my experience, the weather in the South is more unpredictable, with more unexpected rainfall. On the other hand, cities in the north tend to be sunnier. However, experiences vary so feel free to share your experience in the comment session. Thank you in advance!

9. Stay Safe

While crimes are almost unheard of in Iceland, the biggest danger here is to get lost without a phone. I mean, how could people trace you if you do not have any means of communicating with the outside world? Accidents often come without warnings, so it's always a good idea to sign up for a phone plan and bring two fully-charged power banks along, just in case. 

10. Be Responsible

Don’t leave anything else behind other than footprints. Especially human waste! If we know how to clean up after our dogs back in our home country, I believe everyone is adult enough to know how to behave. Let's NOT trash this beautiful country.  

📌For more travel tips, like Eat Love Travel Breathe with Miss HappyFeet. 
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Thank You for Reading! 
My trip to Iceland was sponsored and my camping gear rental was covered by Iceland Camping Equipment Rental. However, this post is based solely on my honest opinion and personal experience. 
Feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below!


Unknown said...

Thanks for share and nice blog.

Unknown said...

I have never camped in Iceland, but the information you have provided is useful when planning for a camping trip. Generally, the info is very useful for any camper. In addition to the camping gear you already have, you should consider the following luxury camping tents: http://survival-mastery.com/reviews/luxury-camping-tents.html

Peter Smith said...

After reading your blog I'll take care of all the important things while Camping.