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Discovering the Lonely Islands around Ko Chang

Category : Thailand

The magnificent island Ko Chang is the perfect destination to relax. But if you are restless (like me) or searching for a little adventure this might be for you: Discover lonely, inhabited islands, relax at your ‘private’ beach and take some nice pictures. All by yourself.

After traveling a few weeks through Thailand we decided to rest for a few days in Ko Chang. We enjoyed walking along the Klong Prao beach, swimming in the sea and watching the sunset. I noticed a couple of islands that seemed to be quite close. The hotel staff explained to me that they are uninhabited and we could get there by Kayak. That was enough information to pique my curiosity. Early next morning we rented the Kayak’s and paddled towards the islands.

All the islands near Klong Prao Beach (Ko Chang). On the very top is Ko Suwan

 

Ko Suwan Island

Ko Suwan was the nearest island so we decided to get there first. We spent almost half a day there. Everything was very natural and exotic. You will hear cicadas and find plenty of trees, bush and rocks. We relaxed at the beach and took a walk to a cave on the west side of the island. You can even go snorkelling in there.

View from the beach at Ko Suwan Island to the coast of Ko Chang

 

It was great to have this lovely place only for ourselves although it is so easily accessible. Maybe you might see some local people fishing but that shouldn’t bother you 🙂 Overall a nice little adventure in between our recreational holiday on Ko Chang.

 

How to get to Ko Suwan Island

Some companies offer boat tours that lead past (or maybe even to the islands). The better option is to get yourself a Kayak. Fortunately, our hotel (the Santhiya Tree Ko Chang) provided them for free. You can also rent Kayaks at the beach. Just ask the locals.

 

Our Equipment: Life Jackets, Kayak and most importantly: Freddy the Crocodile 🙂

 

Depending on your physical condition you might reach the island from various spots on the west side of Ko Chang. Klong Prao Beach is the best starting point because of the short distance to Ko Suwan. It will take around 30 minutes to get there with moderate speed and fitness level.

On the East side of Ko Suwan you’ll find a spot at the beach where you can enter the island with your Kayak (directly opposite to the Ko Chang beach).

 

Don’t let this happen to you

You can do this trip even as an absolute Kayak beginner. If you don’t know how to steer or paddle, check out YouTube or ask the hirer 😉 However, don’t underestimate the distance and the sea!

While we were still relaxing on Ko Suwan beach, the weather changed quite quickly and large, dark clouds appeared. We left the island in a hurry. On our way back we fought against currents that became increasingly stronger. We didn’t panic and kept paddling towards the coast. It required much more strength than we expected but eventually we reached Klang Prao Beach safely.

Soon after, it started to rain heavily. We were lucky that we made it in time. Believe me: You don’t want to be paddling on the sea when a thunderstorm arises.

 

A few rules to assure a safe journey

To make sure to be safe during your journey consider these things:

  • Carefully observe the weather conditions at the start and during your journey (how to read weather on the sea)
  • Go together with another fit / adult person
  • Wear something on your head as sun protection
  • Wear a life jacket
  • Put your belongings into a drybag to protect them from salt water

That’s advice based on my experience. Please note that making this tour is at your own risk. Enjoy the trip and please leave a comment if this blogpost helped you to discover the lonely islands 🙂

 

Want to know more about Thailand?

Find Helpful Information & Interesting Blogposts on my ‘Thailand’ Page

 

 


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Exploring a Hidden Hill Tribe Village in Northern Thailand’s Jungle

Category : Thailand

On our 2-day tour in the Mae Tang district (North of Chiang Mai, Thailand) we hiked through scenic landscapes, visited an authentic Karen hill tribe village, saw plenty of animals and survived an adventurous bamboo rafting. Overall an amazing and memorable trip that taught us a lot about the local culture, the Karen way of life and ourselves.

 

On the Road: Getting to Mae Tang

Early in the morning we were picked up by our guide Mike, a friendly young member of the Karen hill tribe, who recently started his own tour company. We found his “Authentic Trekking” offer online and wanted to try it to support his new business. As most of the Thai guides, Mike was perfectly on time and everything was well arranged. After storing our gear in the van, we noticed that there was a second person behind the wheel.  He was wearing a hat and a green shirt with flowers. He looked like the Thai version of a cowboy and reminded me a bit of the killer Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. Was it a good idea to trust those two complete strangers?

Visiting the Local Market & Mok Fa Waterfall

Before leaving Chiang Mai we stopped by at a local market to buy some supplies for our meals. We took a walk around the market hall and watched different food stands. Back on the road we drove around an hour to visit the Mok Fa waterfall. It’s a nice place but I’ve seen cleaner and more remote waterfalls. If you’re lucky it’s not too crowded. In our case there were a couple of (local) people bathing. After a refreshing shower in the waterfall we already headed for our lunch in a local restaurant near the main road.

Mok Fa waterfall in Northern Thailand

Freshly showered and well-fed we felt ready for our hike in the jungle. We left the main road and drove around one kilometre up the mountain on a parched mud road with plenty of holes. It is the only road that leads to Mike’s hill tribe village and is only accessible during dry season. I suppose any other car than a 4×4 would get stuck after the first few meters. I asked Mike what the villagers would do in case of a medical emergency during rainy season and he replied: “We would try to reach the city by motorbike”. Not a very inspiring confidence. But that’s where we wanted to get: off the beaten path.

Into the Jungle: Hiking to the Karen Hill Tribe Village

Unloading our gear before the hike

After a bumpy ride the Thai cowboy dropped us off and gave us a friendly nod. He didn’t seem to be too bad after all and promised to take care of our remaining luggage. We entered a trail that was formerly created by the Karen villagers. They used to walk to the main road and back every day. The trail was very narrow so we had to walk behind each other. At the beginning, most of the surrounding trees looked quite like the ones we know from Europe. But after a while the vegetation started to change: Bamboo trees and thick jungle appeared. The path narrowed even more and it also got cooler. It suddenly started to feel more exotic.

Mae Tang jungle

We enjoyed being the only people on this path. It reassured me that it was a good decision to book the tour with Mike. But our exclusive trek had its price: A great elevation. Most of the time we were either climbing up a hill or walking down. This was quite exhaustive during the dry season at temperatures around 38° Celsius. Nevertheless, it was still the best option. Mike told us that it would become very slippery during rainy season. Also, bloodsuckers would permanently try to crawl up on you for a having a delicious blood meal. No thanks!

The Vegetation & Wildlife

We learned a lot about the vegetation and wildlife. We saw all kinds of ferns and trees like the fig tree. It carries a fruit that monkeys like to eat. That’s why they visit this area of the jungle regularly for eating. Also we learned that a worm called “Duk Dea” is living inside some bamboo trees. The worms are considered a delicacy and the villagers take them out to sell them on the local markets. The “wildest” animals we saw at that time were termites, large grasshoppers and chicken. But this would be different on our way back.

Fig tree

After around 3-4 hours of hiking we left the jungle and entered a bigger path leading towards the Karen village. We enjoyed the stunning view on all the small cottages and the surrounding rice fields.

Karen village and surrounding rice fields

The Jungle Tree Swing

We also had the chance to try out a tree swing after Mike carried out a quick safety test (by taking the first swing himself). It was made of two old bicycle tires and a rope. I can imagine it wouldn’t pass a safety test by any European Authority J But that’s what I like about the Thai culture: There seem to be fewer rules and if people want to do something they just find a way. If you happen to come across the tree swing you should try it. It feels almost like you’re flying above the rice fields 🙂

Our guide Mike testing the tree swing

Overall the hike on the first day is doable with average fitness level. The trees provided some shadow and we made a few breaks so we didn’t face any physical limits. Don’t pack too much gear otherwise the great elevation will make you tired. The real highlight of the first day was still waiting for us: The arrival in the village.

 

The Karen Hill Tribe Culture & History

Mike told us a lot about the culture and history of his tribe. The Karen tribe originates from Myanmar but many villages can nowadays be found in Thailand. The people fled to Thailand because of conflicts with the Burmese military. The Karen developed their own languages (Sgaw, Pwo & Pa’o) that are different to Thai. For me as a “farang” (that’s how Thai people call foreigners) it was hard to tell the exact difference. In the village that we’ve visited almost nobody has a regular job in the city. The majority of the villagers are farmers and produce their own food (mainly rice). They also keep animals like chicken and pigs for meat consumption. If there is an occasion to celebrate buffalo

Most Karen hill tribe people believes in Christianity. People preach and live altruism. They share food or other belongings with each other if needed. For this reason, money plays a minor role in their society because the people cater for themselves. However, many families collect at least some money over the years in case they require a medical treatment. They also celebrate Christian festivals like Christmas.

 

Exploring the Karen Hill Tribe Village

As we entered the village we found a very lively atmosphere: Barking dogs, grunting pigs and shouting villagers. Everybody seemed to be busy doing something. However, the people were working in a slow pace and found time to have a look at us visitors. Many of them gave us a welcoming smile. Our guide Mike was born and raised in the village so he knows everybody over there. We noticed that people were quite happy or at least neutral about our presence. A sign that this village was not being exploited by masses of tourists.

Villager preparing pig food

Karen Cottages

Almost all the wooden cottages in the village are made of bamboo and built on wood piles. People live upstairs in a small compartment and keep animals or food on the ground below. Some families have a separate storage room for the rice supplies of an entire year (around 2-3 tons of rice per family). Everything in the village is very basic. Some people don’t even have a bed and sleep on the floor. Mike told us that one gets used to that very quickly. Nevertheless, he was so kind to offer us a room with mattress.

Classic Karen cottage

Water & Electricty

The village is supplied with cold water through a pipeline. The water would heat up at least a bit during daytime. Electricity is very limited and we found one solar panel in the village. Mike told us that it generates enough energy to watch two hours TV in the evening. One of the few villagers that possesses a TV is his mother. People gather together at her house in the evening and watch a movie together until the lights turn off. A very different world… 🙂

The Karen People

Mike guided us through the whole village and introduced us to many people. Most of them were from his own family or anyhow related to him. This was not surprising because the village counts only around 250 inhabitants. The insight into the way of the villager’s lives was very authentic. We observed people performing their daily work like feeding chicken, doing laundry or preparing food.

Mike’s sister showing us how to weave

The villagers seem to get along very well with the basic conditions and are satisfied with the things they possess. The atmosphere was very cheerful and friendly. People chatted and joked with each other and tried to interact with us despite the language barrier. They invited us to enter their homes and allowed us to take pictures. We tried to behave with integrity and followed all the cultural rules like taking off our shoes before entering a house. Still, we were positively surprised how open the people were towards us.

Mike’s sister and her dogs

Visiting the Karen village helped me to remind myself about the high living standards in Europe. I wonder if we really need that many material things. I’m glad that I have electricity so I can watch Netflix whenever I feel like. But do we need a 60” 4k Ultra HD TV? I personally don’t. The villagers seemed to be very happy and enjoyed their lives. In contrast, many people in western civilizations work harder and harder to afford more stuff. I’m not sure if this really makes us happier in the long run.

 

Everything Bamboo

In the village (also in whole Thailand) many things are made of bamboo. It seems like there are endless options for what bamboo can be used: Dishes, tools, construction, furniture, you name it…! 🙂 It is an amazing, very durable and natural base material. In my opinion the broad use of bamboo reflects the people’s ability to find creative solutions with the very basic means they possess. I admire that.

During our trip Mike cut bamboo chopsticks, spoons, cups and plates for us. I wanted to give it a try myself and cut my own bamboo cup. The result was just acceptable and Mike kindly improved my finished work. A few seconds and cuts later it was perfectly straight 🙂

My clumsy attempt to cut my own bamboo cup

 

The Night in the Jungle

After finishing our tour through the village we cooked together with Mike and his family. The kitchen was indoor and we cooked on a fireplace. At first I was afraid to get a smoke poisoning but the natural air exhaust called wind worked very well 🙂

A typical kitchen in the Karen village

The Most Delicious Thai Dinner

We had a classical Thai dinner: Fried chicken with basil, long beans, yellow curry, fish and rice. It was simply delicious. I’ve been eating at restaurants, street food stands and markets, but the meal in the Karen village was by far the best food I’ve had on my entire trip through Thailand. Maybe it was because of the fresh meat or our hike… Anyway, if you decide to do this trip with Mike you can already look forward to a very tasty meal 🙂

Our delicious dinner at the Karen village

In the evening we sat on the “roof terrace” of our little guest cottage chatting with Mike. We appreciated that he speaks English quite fluently and took the time to answer all our questions in detail. He and his family were extraordinary hospitable and we felt well taken care of and safe all the time. Mike’s story is quite impressive but you should meet him and listen to it yourself. I was glad about my decision to book a tour with him despite the few recommendations he had collected at that time. As he belongs to the Karen, the income will partly be used for his family and the village. It is important to me that the money ends up at the right end when booking a tour. No native people should be exploited.

Later in the evening we found proof regarding the talk about altruism and sharing. A few villagers walked into Mike’s kitchen without asking and started to plunder the remaining food that we cooked. I was a bit surprised and Mike just smiled about my reaction. “It’s normal here. We share.” he replied. From time to time a few people joined us on the terrace to speak a few words to Mike and left again. It’s a matter of course to enter other people’s homes without asking in the Karen village. Most families don’t have a lock at their front door and in some cases not even a door. Maybe a bit surprising to people from Western civilizations.

Sleepless Night

Our night was not very relaxing. One might expect that insects keep you from having a good night rest in the middle of the jungle. But not in our case. In the middle of the night all the dogs in the village started to bark. Soon after the pigs joined the noise concert. After an hour of silence when I was just about to fall asleep again, the chicken started their wake up call. If you’re living on a farm you might be used to these noisy animals. For us however it was hard to catch a lot of sleep.

 

Jungle Trekking Part II: Back to Chiang Mai

A delicious breakfast provided the energy we needed for a good start into the day. We began to hike on a different path towards the bamboo rafting station early next morning. It took as another 3-4 hours across a terrain with many altitude meters and a merciless sun burning down on us during some parts of the trail. Don’t forget to bring a head protection for the hike. We walked across rice fields, passed rivers and saw a few very small villages. I enjoyed the scenery a lot but assume it looks even more impressive during rainy season (all the rice fields were already harvested and dry in April).

Rice fields in the Mae Tang jungle during dry season

Peaceful Animals

Once in a while we walked past some buffalos that were relaxing next to the trail. We we still didn’t see any wild or exotic animals at that time. Therefore Mike managed to make at least some bigger spiders leave their holes in the ground so that we could have a look. People from Australia would not be impressed but they definitely belonged to a bigger species than we know in Europe 😉

Buffalos relaxing next to our hiking trail

 

The Bamboo Rafting

After a strenuous hike we finally reached the bamboo station at the river. Two guys had some bamboo floats prepared and we took one of them. After cooling down in the water we started rafting down the river. The rafting experience was a bit different to what I knew before. Steering through the water with long bamboo sticks felt different and challenging. Especially when we had to navigate quickly through passages with plenty of rocks that might destroy our bamboo float.

Bamboo rafting in the Mae Tang jungle

Experiencing the jungle from a bamboo float was a welcoming change compared to the trail. We could listen to the exotic noises that you typically get to hear and absorb the tranquil atmosphere during calm river sections.

The Poisonous Snakes

The observation of the river beds paid off: I spotted a snake eating a large fish near the river bed. Mike stopped our bamboo float and navigated very close to it. Before I could take a close up picture the snake let go of the fish and swam directly towards us. I got ready to jump off the bamboo float but the snake preferred to stay in the water. Maybe that was better for both parties. I apologised in my mind for disturbing its meal and we continued our raft. Soon after we found another snake on the ground. This time it was dead already. Mike told us that most of the local people try to kill the snakes. Either because they want to eat them or because they are poisonous. I guess it’s probably better to encounter a dead poisonous snake than an alive one 😉 Especially if getting an antivenom takes many hours.

Dead poisonous snake

River Wildlife

I felt more relaxed watching the rather harmless animals like buffalos in the river. They cooled themselves down in the water and watched us very critically when we passed. How could we dare to invade their privacy? Nevertheless, all the buffalos we have met were peaceful and used to the human presence.

Buffalo cooling down in the river

Further down the river we also passed a few elephants that belonged to a nearby camp. We drove by a fisher village and observed local people swimming or fishing. After 4 hours we finally left the bamboo float near a small village and walked to the main road. Our Thai cowboy driver was already waiting for us.

 

A Memorable Trip

Overall our trip was a great adventure and we enjoyed every moment of it. Even the countless little things that we experienced in this new environment would have been worth the time and money. We highly appreciate the opportunity to explore the Karen culture and feel grateful for the discovery of so many new things. Thank you, Mike, for this memorable and amazing trip 🙂

Note: We made our trip in April, which is the end of the dry season. The water level is quite low during this time. Therefore, the rafting takes much longer compared to the rainy season. On the plus side, we had plenty of time to absorb the atmosphere and observe the surrounding river beds. Also there are very few mosquitos and insects at that time. According to our guide Mike the rafting can be quite dangerous during wet season because the water is flowing much faster. It happened already a couple of times that bamboo floats crashed on the rocks and people had to rescue themselves to the river beds. Book in rainy season if you seek for the maximum adventure 🙂

 

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Iceland’s South: The Beautiful & Wild Black Coast

Category : Iceland

The South of Iceland is known for its black beach that consist of basalt sand. It looks somehow beautiful and threatening at the same time. Anyway it is very different compared to the beaches you typically get to see. It’s a must go if you travel through that area.

The Dyrholaey Arch

The first stop on our road trip through the South was Dyrholaey arch – a huge black lava arch in the sea. It looks very impressive and probably the view is even nicer during sunset. We took a walk for 20 minutes in the area and headed back to the car. Make sure to take a windproof jacket with you as the wind force is enormous up there.

Dyrholaey Arch, Iceland

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Afterwards we stepped by at the Reynisfjara black sand beach. You can drive to a viewpoint by car and enjoy the great sight. In Iceland are generally many cloudy and rainy days in September and one might think that’s not ideal for such a tour. However, many areas like the black sand beach appear even more dramatic and spectacular when there are dark clouds instead of sunshine.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Iceland

After checking out the viewpoint we went for a walk at the beach. Especially in the winter months the waves are very strong and many people drowned there already. Be cautious when you visit the beach, especially during high tide. If you get too close to the water you might get sucked into the sea.

Rocks at Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Iceland

Step by at the lovely small town Vik for having lunch or buying some souvenirs after you have visited the beach. Your loved ones back home might be happy about a pair of Icelandic wool socks 🙂


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Why You Should Plan Less Time for the Golden Circle

Category : Iceland

We decided to start our road trip by driving the Golden Circle route which is very popular among tourists that visit Reykavik. It consists of three main sights that are only around 40 km away from the city: Pingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss. Some tour operator offer Golden Circle Day trips. If you’re organizing the trip yourself I recommend you to plan less time for the Golden Circle.

Pingvellir is a national park that lies in a rift valley and has historical and cultural significance. There are parking spots available very close to the rift valley and you can take several hiking routes through the whole area. You can certainly spend a couple of hours hiking here but we only wanted to get an impression of the area and chose a short track.

Pingvellir, Iceland

Our next destination was a hot spring, Geysir, just a few kilometres away from Pingvellir. It was impressive to observe the natural power pushing the hot water out of the ground every 2-3 minutes. However, due to the popularity of the Golden Circle route this area was completely full of tourists arriving in huge busses and squeezing each other next to the Geysir to cast a glance at this phenomenon. I recommend you to hike up the hill for a better view.

Geysir, Iceland

After that we visited Gullfoss, the first of many waterfalls we were about to see. Again you could park nearby the waterfall and hike there within a few minutes. That explains the masses of tourists gathering here as well. Make sure to bring your rain jacket and protect your camera because the wind carries lots of water in the direction of the hiking trail. The waterfall is impressive in terms of the water volume running down each second but in my opinion not the most beautiful waterfall that Iceland has to offer.

Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland

Why you should plan less time for the Golden Circle

We definitely enjoyed the Golden Circle route because it reflects a part of Iceland’s scenic diversity. If you’re only staying in Reykjavik and have no possibility to drive around on your own it’s a good thing to do.

However, I recommend to plan maximum a half day for this trip if you organize it yourself. Simply because you have the chance to see much nicer places with fewer people. In our case we luckily we had enough time left to drive to Seljalandsfoss. This waterfall was the highlight of our day. It’s one of the most scenic and ‘romantic’ waterfalls I’ve ever seen. You can take a walk in the surrounding area and behind the waterfall. Try to get there early in the morning or in the late afternoon.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Iceland

When we arrived in the afternoon most people already left to drive back to Reykjavik. We explored the area and took some pictures of Seljalandsfoss during sunset. Afterwards we had dinner next to this beautiful scenery – a perfect end of day one 🙂


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Our Amazing Road Trip Through Iceland

Category : Iceland

Iceland is a wonderful country that offers scenic landscapes, great hiking opportunities and a chance to watch the aurora borealis. We relaxed next to breath-taking waterfalls, discovered exiting hiking trails and managed to watch the spectacular northern lights one night. Overall we had a great time travelling along the ring road.

Iceland’s Weather: September Rain

We went there in September and the temperatures were still around 15° C at daytime. Unfortunately, it was either cloudy or rainy most of the days which made it difficult to spot the polar lights or successfully complete some of the hikes like the one in Skaftafell National Park. Nevertheless, Iceland’s landscape looks amazing during this season. And as you know… there’s a rainbow at the end of every rain 🙂

Rainbow at Fjallsarlon Glacier Lake, Iceland

 

Discover the Waterfalls

Iceland has so many waterfalls that it makes sense to inform yourself before the trip about them. It will take a lot of time to see all of them, so pick the ones that look most appealing to you. Thankfully somebody did the work for us and collected the Top 10 Beautiful Waterfalls of Iceland. My personal favourite is the Seljalandsfoss 🙂

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Iceland

Iceland’s Biggest Asset: It’s Scenic Diversity

Not only the waterfalls are impressive in Iceland. We particularly enjoyed the scenic diversity. This small country has everything to offer that you can think of: grassland, rocks, beaches, glaciers, lava fields, waterfalls and gush springs.

Basalt Cliffs at Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland

I especially liked the areas where different landscapes merge together.

Skaftafell National Park: Ice meets Grassland

The less known Glacial Lagoon near the popular Jökulsarlon Glacial Lagoon is named Fjallsarlon. It’s a great example for the sharp contrast of Iceland’s landscape types. Fjallsarlon is easily accessible via the ring road and you should definitely visit it when you drive through this area.

Fjallsarlon Glacial Lake, Iceland

 

The Breath-Taking Polar Lights

The absolute highlight of our trip was viewing the polar lights. Photography has its limits and the Polar Lights are an excellent example of that. In my opinion it is impossible to convey the beauty of this breath-taking phenomenon in an image. I’ve tried and I hope you like the picture. Nevertheless, I recommend you to see this yourself once in your life! You can find some advice on viewing the polar lights here (coming soon).

Polar Lights, Iceland

Rent a Car and Enjoy the Freedom

Hiring a rental car turned out to be an excellent decision because we enjoyed absolute flexibility and always had a place to sleep over night if we couldn’t find an accommodation nearby. Also we were able to reach rather remote areas and to visit the sights early in the morning before the crowds arrived by travel busses departing from Reykjavik. It’s difficult to capture popular waterfalls like the Seljalandsfoss without a bunch of people in the background if you arrive there later than 8 a. m. So either you stand up early or let Photoshop do the job 😉

Sleeping Spot near Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

 

You Have to Search for the Hidden Gem’s

Keep in mind that Iceland is not that unoccupied anymore like it was a few years ago. Especially at the popular sights near the ring road (for example at the Golden Circle) is mass tourism. On the one hand it’s good that many sights are located near the ring road. They are easily accessible and you are able to visit multiple sights per day. On the other hand almost any natural wonder loses its magic if it’s overcrowded. At least that’s how I feel as an off the beaten path traveller. It’s more difficult nowadays to discover deserted places in Iceland. Luckily it is still possible especially further away from Reykjavik and the ring road. A good example is the West of Iceland up to the Snaefellsjoekull National Park. Happy Discovery 🙂

Lost Building, West Iceland

 

Ready for your own Iceland Adventure?

Read: How to Plan a Road Trip through Iceland

 

Want to know more about Iceland?

Find Helpful Information & Interesting Blogposts on my ‘Iceland’ Page


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How To Plan a Road Trip Through Iceland

Category : Iceland

Maybe you’ve decided already to visit Iceland. We travelled to Iceland because we wanted to see the Northern lights once in our lives. Amongst Iceland there are lots of areas in Scandinavia that are great for spotting the aurora borealis. Eventually we chose Iceland because we were curious about the landscapes and the trip seemed to be much cheaper compared to other destinations.

When to go?

The first step of planning your trip is to decide when to go there. We travelled at the end of September for three reasons:

  1. The polar light season started around that time (September – April)
  2. The weather was still warm enough to enjoy spending time outside
  3. We expected fewer tourists due to off-season

During our Iceland journey we had to learn that not all of these things came true but we definitely had a fabulous time.

 

How long to stay?

The duration of your stay depends on your travel route, your travel pace and your budget. You can easily spend 4 weeks or more in Iceland without getting bored. In our case we only had 7 days available so this decision was quick to make. In my opinion 1,5 – 2 weeks would be ideal for a trip around the ring road.

 

What to see in Iceland?

Despite its size there are a lot of things to see and do in Iceland. As we had only 7 days available for our trip we decided to travel along the ring road (1.300 km) by which are some of the most popular sights. If you travel for less than a week to Iceland you should consider focusing on one area of the island or be prepared to drive around 4-6 hours a day. Have a look at my Iceland Gallery for some impressions or check out our travel route which contains plenty of sights.

 

Our Travel Route

 

How to get there from Europe?

There are a couple of ways to get to Iceland. The cheapest and most time-efficient way is probably to book a flight. We booked a flight from Frankfurt to Reykjavik with WOW air for a very reasonable price.

 

How to get around?

You have to decide whether to hire a car or go by public transportation. There are many arguments for and against both options. We decided to hire a car because it gave us ultimate flexibility to decide wherever and whenever we wanted to go. We didn’t regret this decision.

We picked a Land Rover Discovery Sport that allowed us to drive on all roads in Iceland (there are some restrictions for certain car models) and to sleep inside the boot in case there would be no campsite available nearby. The total costs including insurances amounted to more than 1.000€ for one week but considering the high hotel prices and lack of accommodation facilities in rather remote areas it was probably cheaper overall. It took as quite a while to figure out in which car we could have a good night rest (blogpost coming soon).


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