Going Kuku in Iceland: Camper Van Adventures in the Land of Fire & Ice

June 12, 2015

We debated for quite some time over whether we should rent a car and stay in hostels during our time in Iceland, or rent a camper van (a more expensive endeavor than a normal car) and act as a pair of snails: with our homes/beds on our backs, so to speak. After much deliberation, an overwhelming preference for the camper van option from forums I read, and careful budget research, we decided on the snail method with Kuku Campers.

And we are so glad we did.

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Not only is Kuku Campers highly rated in almost ever review I read, they are the most affordable (and we scored an even lower promotion because it was off-season) – and their staff is fun, friendly, and well, kuku. Their celebrity-inspired painted fleet (seriously, you can get a van with Chuck Norris on it) is all about getting back to the basics in camping. Our basic, sadly not yet painted two-person camper had a double bed mattress, little kitchen table, and pullout “counter” in the back of the van that allowed cooking space, plus convenient storage units and buckets for the cooking utensils, camp stove, and cooler (which was hardly needed in April/early May.)

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We agree a camper is absolutely the way to go in Iceland. We loved zipping around in our little vehicle, which was easy to drive and cozy during the freezing nights. We loved being able to pull over on the side of the road and sleep whenever and wherever we wanted: our first night, we camped practically beneath the eye of the formidable Eyjafjallajokull ice cap and volcano – a bit of a daunting move, I must admit.

Our second night was spent in a convenient little pullout by a river in the area of Geyser and Gullfoss, and our third was in a free campsite near the hot springs of Hveragerdi.

Thanks to Kuku Campers, we saw waterfalls and ice caps…

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Steaming earth and hot springs…

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Black sand beaches and basalt columns in the sea…

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And gorgeous sunsets…

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In fact, we only had one grievance with our experience — which was quickly, and overwhelmingly, remedied.

On our very first night, we discovered the 12 volt receptacle was broken: a major inconvenience since we couldn’t charge our phones or the GPS we had rented at a separate cost. Luckily, Trevor is great with maps and we ended up buzzing around the southern coast without a problem. I figured it was a good thing, since we’d get our 50 Euro rental fee back (which we were indeed offered.)

When we returned our car at noon on the final day, we asked for advice on public transportation and things to do until our 8pm flight that evening. The staff member helping us had hardly begun to explain the difficulties of the public bus routes when he stopped, looked at us, and said, “You know what, I’m just going to give you another camper for the rest of the day. You can drop it off at the airport, I’ll waive the fee.” We were astounded. As we glibbered about how great that was, he went further to say he’d just keep the 50 euros for the GPS and call it our rental extension (a major discount, by the way). And he gave us a brand new vehicle that hadn’t even been slept in yet.

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And as we climbed into it and prepared to head out, he ran over to the van we had just returned, grabbed the GPS we hadn’t been able to use, and handed it to Trevor: “Here, maybe it will work now.”

We were pretty much all smiles as we headed out for a bonus day of adventures on the Reykjanes peninsula – and we know exactly who we’ll be returning to when we come back to Iceland for more. Stay sexy, Kuku!

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*Major thanks and props to the Kuku Campers team – especially Alexia (“The King”) and Lars, whose name we are probably misspelling, but to whom we are grateful for an extra day of fun!
*All opinions expressed are my own. There was no monetary compensation or incentive for this review.

15 Comments
      1. Thanks Carmen! It definitely added so much more. We want to go back!

    1. Great post! Sounds like really nice people in Iceland, and your photos are amazing!

      1. Thanks Yvonne! Yes, Icelandic people were very friendly. 🙂

    1. just wondering how tight was the sleeping, the wife and I aren’t exactly thin, might do for one of us.

      1. Hi Rob! The sleeping space isn’t super big, but it’s not that tight either. Both my boyfriend and I fit quite comfortably (and I’d consider us average weight, though he is over 6′.) There was room for each of us to roll over, move around, etc. If you prefer a roomier sleeping space, I’d consider going up to a larger vehicle. We had the smallest van, but there are about 6 different sized vehicles or so, all the way up to a cargo van that sleeps 8. Good luck! 🙂

    1. Thanks after posting I looked closer at the website and they have all different sizes so we’d just rent a larger one. I should add finding this was good timing as we’re on visiting next year with family

      rob

    1. Hey Becky! Just came across this post while researching for a trip to Iceland in May 2017. I have a few questions and I know this post is a little bit old, but I’d really appreciate any tips or help you can provide 🙂
      We are considering using Kuku as they seem to be reasonably priced compared to other rentals – was it easy to get to their offices from Reykjavik?
      When driving around and camping, what did you do regarding the toilet/shower situation? I’m thinking specifically number 2 (sorry!! I can’t help but wonder!).
      How did you cope on a night with the temperature? Was the van quite cosy?
      Did you cook while you were on the road? Trying to work out how we will go about food as we are both vegetarian and have heard Iceland is super expensive!
      Did you pre-plan the places you stopped for the night or is it quite easy to find places?

      Thank you so much!
      – Katie

      1. Hi Katie! Thanks so much for reading! I’ll answer your questions as best I can. 🙂

        1. Yes, it was pretty easy to find the rental office, although there didn’t seem to be a bus route that took us directly there. We had to walk about 10 minutes from the nearest bus stop. I’d recommend Uber or a cab to get directly there. 🙂

        2. It’s totally natural to wonder about a toilet situation! We would use the bathrooms strategically at the visitor’s centers of places we were visiting (you can always pee on the side of the road – haha!), or pulled into campsites to use their toilets. I don’t remember it being much of an issue, just use the toilets whenever you can. 😉

        3. It was VERY cold at night when we went at the end of April/early May, and we had one of the cheaper vans with no heater. You can rent a space heater from them (I believe), but we just coped with our thermal sleeping bags. We’d run the engine and blast the car’s heater for a few minutes to warm the place up before we changed, then turn it off and snuggle into our sleeping bags. We were fine that way, but I strongly recommend thermal underwear — in fact, you might want to sleep naked (or at least just with underwear), because the sleeping bags they give you are thermally insulated, which means it will trap your own body heat. I made the mistake of sleeping in a bunch of layers, and was often cold, while my boyfriend slept practically naked and was very comfortable. It seems counter-intuitive, but it’s a survival technique!

        4. Yes, we cooked on the road – we bought groceries and cooked almost all of our meals from the camper. It’s expensive to eat out, but groceries weren’t bad. Just ask the guys at Kuku for recommendations on the best grocer chains. 🙂

        5. We usually do a bit of both: spontaneous adventures mixed with pre-planning. The best part in Iceland is that you can just stop wherever, whenever you want. We didn’t plan where we slept any of the nights; we knew a basic skeleton plan of what we wanted to do/see and just coordinated sleeping around those locations. The first night, we literally drove until we decided we were tired and wanted to turn in for the night – and ended up camping beneath the volcano! It makes it so much fun and adventurous, and is very convenient. 🙂

        I hope you have a wonderful time! Iceland is incredible, and I can’t wait to go back someday. Feel free to ask any more questions you have. 🙂

    1. Hi! I came across this post. I’m planning a trip in the end of September this year and i wanted to know if the sleeping bags provided by kuku are warm enough without heater in the camper?
      Thank you. I really loved your post! 🙂

      1. Hii Marine! Thank you for reading! 🙂 The sleeping bags they provide are insulated, “eskimo-style” sleepings bags, which means they are shaped to fit your head as well! So they zip all the way up, and you essentially are cocooned inside. I run cold usually, so I still slept with thermal underwear, but my boyfriend actually slept in the nude – which is ACTUALLY the trick to staying warmer. Since the bags are insulated, if you sleep naked, they will trap your body heat and keep you warmer. Hope that helps! Have so much fun in Iceland – I can’t wait to go back! 🙂

        1. I just realized I didn’t exactly answer your question: YES! They are warm enough without the heater, which was a good thing since there is no heater! 😉 We would run the engine and the heat for a few minutes when we first woke up, though, to make it easier to undress/get dressed. Haha!

        1. Thank you so much for all of these informations 🙂
          Iceland was an amazing country, I can’t wait to go back this year!!

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