Camping as a family in a tiny van has advantages, but cleanliness is not one of them. The Skaftafell national park campsite where we stayed overnight has $4 for a 5 minute shower but it’s powerful and as hot as you can handle it.
It’s awesome to see Emma and Lily standing confidently in line with dreadlocked and tackle-box faced German and French 20-somethings doing their summer adventures.
The campsite is mobbed by 10am – we haven’t been getting out very early, something we would do effectively on other trips. I’m not sure why that is – partly having teens and tweens, and partly going to bed late. Camper van travel is just a different pace, a little slower, than what we’ve done in the past. The girls agree it’s an awesome change, but not something we would do everywhere.
Iceland, however, is perfect for it because the distances are large enough and there isn’t great accommodation along the way anyway. If you are going to do iceland as a family, get a camper van. Get a four wheel drive one however, that was a mistake I made already.
Skaftafell is part of Europe’s largest protected wildlife zone and the home of it’s largest glacier. But those are difficult treks that were expensive to organize because the girls required private tours. And it’s just as well, because I have an infected big toe, something from a hang nail aquired in London that will not heal. And I’m not sure I could go for very long.
So we stick to the main trail, which features some cool waterfalls and views of the southern iceland plain. The trail is paved, but steep in parts. And it goes past several main waterfalls before we get to Svartifoss, the goal for the afternoon. Iceland, many reckon, has the greatest waterfall density on the planet.
On the way, we amuse ourselves, to the disappointment of our fellow European hikers with our “Bacon Wave” song and the Family Guy ‘Cool Whip” sketch. ”Bacon Wave” is a song I wrote a long time ago for Trish, with fantastic lyrics: ”Bacon Wave, Bacon Wave, Bacon Wave, Bacon Wave, Bacon Wave!” It’s a hit. The “Cool Whip” sketch is a classic. We crack up the entire way to the falls.
The Svartifoss falls are listed in guide books as gloomy, which is hard to imagine a waterfall with rainbows being, but it’s kind of true. They are surrounded by the basalt rocks that have this gothic look, and on a cloudy day might be pretty scary even.
We hang out at the falls for a while. This is peak tourist season, and this is one of the most common tourist attractions, but there still aren’t more than a handful of people here. Iceland is pretty remote, no matter when you come.
The hike up to the near summit gives us views of the plain that leads to the North Atlantic ocean, just in sight at the edge of the horizon. And we head back down, having walked about 3 miles. Not far but up and down.
There is one more amazing falls on the way back, and one can somewhat dangerously, get out on the rocky premonitory to get a great angle. As our glacier guide said a few days ago “The good thing about Iceland is you can do anything. The bad thing about Iceland is you can do anything.” I have to hold the girl’s hands so they can see over the edge.
Getting decent food has been a challenge. Costs are high, and everywhere there are just salami and cheese sandwiches with lots of mayonnaise. But the local truck stop outside of town has a great restaurant – well, great by Icelandic camper van standards. Vegetable soup is home made and tasty, Emma gets pizza and Lily fish and chips. It feels great to have a warm meal.
We party in the van till late, playing our newest favorite card game “James Bond”. It’s a perfect game for kids. And we play Perry Grip tunes, which keep the kids cracking up. It’s getting a little old sleeping on uncomfortable mats in the back of the van, but this is still a lot of fun.
And we are clean, did I mention that? We are clean.