Published August 2, 2011

Haukur S. Magnússon
Photo by
Julia Staples

We had a ‘crazy’ idea for making our second ‘OUTSIDE REYKJAVÍK’ issue of the summer. Instead of driving around in a rental car, lodging at hotels and hostels on our way, why not try and get a camper that comfortably sleeps a writer and photographer so the two can make their way around Iceland with ultimate freedom, chasing interesting stories as they see fit.

And we did it. You are at this very moment perusing the results of such a camper van trip; all the material for this series was made with nothing but a camper, some diesel fuel, some hiking boots and fiery hearts. Oh and cameras, computers and a notebook.

Here’s how we did it.

We called up the people at the ‘Happy Camper’ camper rental, after spotting their campers all over Iceland for the past year. Sideways glances at the ‘Happy Camper’ campers convinced us that they were indeed kind of happy looking After some negotiation, a ‘Happy Camper’ representative agreed to lend us a camper for five days in lieu of a logo and some mentions in this pullout, and some photos for the ‘Happy Camper’ Facebook page. That seemed fair enough.

After picking up the camper, we then stocked up on foodstuffs at Krónan and set on our way south (then east), with nary an idea of what was to come, except we knew we’d be researching and travelling by day, writing and photo editing by night.

It was a strenuous schedule for sure; we somehow managed to drive the entire Ring Road while taking in some wonderful sights and meeting friendly and interesting locals wherever we went. It was tough at times, but we made it through unscathed carrying home ‘so many memories’.

While travelling Iceland, one comes across lots of campers and mobile homes.

While the mode of travel looks beguiling enough, one cannot shake the feeling that it is somehow exclusive to old people. Having tried it, we can attest that it truly is a great way to venture cross Iceland. The freedom of being able to pull over at will and call wherever you may roam ‘home’—there’s nothing quite like it. Here is some advice: if you get the chance to go on a camper trip, do take it.


The brothers that own and operate ‘Happy Campers’ make all their campers themselves by remodelling vans they deem suit the purpose. “Our aim is simplicity,” ‘Happy Camper’ manager Sverrir Thorsteinsson tells us as we pick up the van. “We build our campers to be as simple and easy to operate as possible. They are no frills, but they offer everything you need for a trip, in a compact and convenient manner.”

The camper van we were allotted was of the ‘Happy 2’ variety (there are four varieties in all, in escalating prices. The cheapest one, ‘Happy 2’ is the smallest, while ‘Happy 4’ is equipped for off-road driving.

‘Happy 2’ is a remodelled Renault Trafic diesel van, and is reportedly their most popular camper. It comes with a portable gas stove, a heating system, a refrigerator, a sink with running water, sleeping room for two, pots and pans, dishes, cookware and cutlery… basically everything you need except a place to shit and shower.

“Bathroom and shower facilities take a lot of room, and are difficult to manage,” Sverrir said as we left his parking lot, adding: “There are lovely swimming pools all over Iceland, and gas stations with restroom facilities. So you should have no problems.”

‘Happy 2’ costs 35.000 ISK per day, including tax, insurance and mileage (and airport pickup). There is a 40% discount during winter season. More info at


Mogwai – Come On Die Young
Built To Spill – Keep It Like A Secret
MellowHype – BlackenedWhite
Snorri Helgason – Winter Sun
Death in Vegas – The Contino Sessions
The Notorious Big – Ready To Die
Sloan – Navy Blues
Sonic Youth – Goo
Sigur Rós – ()

Read more about our travel:

Finally! Ethiopian Food In Flúðir!

Cash, Not Ash

A Viking-Style Dallas (And The Vikings’ Boring Descendants)

Take a Hike On Some Hot Lava

Hallormsstaðaskógur Is Iceland’s Only Largest Forest

Glaciers, Catholics And German Architecture

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