During my first trip to Iceland, I wanted to see the highlights, but I also wanted to get away from everything and explore some more remote locations. My offroad experience was limited to Belgian tracks, and that is by no means comparable to what you’ll come across in Iceland. So what better vehicle than a Land Rover Defender? I rented mine from Kuku Campers.
We got off a bit on the wrong foot with Kuku Campers: when we arrived at Keflavik Airport at 3 PM, there was no one there to pick us up. I called them and they admitted they’d mistakenly put 5 PM on their time sheet. Damn! My girlfriend and I had to be in Selfoss at 7 to pick up our drone! Luckily they sent a friendly employee over straight away!
After about 30-45 minutes of driving, we arrived at Kuku Headquarters. Since we were short on time and I already had some 4×4 experience, the briefing was quick. One particular thing they mentioned was to look out for wind gusts in Iceland, especially if you don’t take the extra insurance. It wouldn’t be the first time someone had their car door ripped off! After that we went over the exterior of the car to check for previous damage and we were all set. The people from Kuku Campers were so friendly to give us a free map and GPS to make up for the inconvenience, which we greatly appreciated! Next thing we had to do was to get out of town as quickly as possible. Destination Selfoss. The landscapes of Iceland were waiting!
A camper is the way to go in Iceland. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great feeling to arrive at your hotel after an intense day of exploring and hiking, but on the downside, hotels tend to be quite expensive (as everything in Iceland) and limit your possibilities. Moreover, renting a campervan compared to renting a normal 4×4 plus accommodation will be about the same price. With a camper, no one is waiting for you at the end of the day. Want to stay a bit longer at a certain location? Just go for it. What an incredible feeling of freedom to pull over to the side of the road and sleep whenever and wherever we wanted. That is so awesome, especially if you’re on some of the lesser known roads. I can tell you, when we were in the highlands, not a single car passed by during the entire night! Just ultimate silence. Strictly speaking, camping along the road isn’t allowed in Iceland, but campervans from Kuku Campers are the size of a normal car and if you drive a few miles from the main road, who’s gonna notice?
Our Defender had a large mattress allowing 2 people to easily sleep next to each other. Beforehand, I had expected it to be much more cramped! It wasn’t. I’m 188cm tall (roughly 6 foot 3) and I could lie down without any difficulty. If you fold the mattress, you can convert the back of the van into a couch-plus-kitchen-table, and still have plenty of storage space for your luggage underneath. On the left side of the car they had made a large storage unit with cooking utensils, a cooler and a large jug of water (filled). The Defender had a built-in heater, which turned out to be quite convenient! Even though we were in Iceland in July, it can get very cold at night. Temperatures were around 13°C during the day and easily dropped to just barely above 0°C during the night.
We had great fun during our trip. The Defender from Kuku Campers was in superb condition. The model was no older than 2011 and the diesel engine in it had barely 100.000km. A baby in Land Rover terms! With its high ground clearance, it could tackle the hardest of terrains. With a 4×4 from Kuku Campers, you are allowed on every F-road (no exceptions like some other rental companies have), but river crossing remains at your own risk! We got so familiar with the car, we named it Ricky!
Even though you can be picked up at the airport, Kuku Campers does not offer to drive you back from their office to Keflavik. If you do choose to end your journey at Kuku Campers, you have to rely on public transportation or get a taxi to get back. Or you can choose ‘airport drop-off’ for an additional fee, which we did. Even though this’ll cost you extra, it is by far the best option, so keep this in mind when determining your car rental budget. Pro-tip: if you have a lot of luggage, drive right up to the airport entrance first, unload all your luggage and then drive back to the parking lot where you can leave the rental car. That way you spare yourself a lot of effort!
We had an amazing time in Iceland exploring places I would’ve never thought I would get to. Would I use Kuku Campers again? Definitely! Great cars with lots of extras inside, for a reasonable price. Ask for Ricky the Defender!
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below!