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A re you curious about what the best mode of transportation is around Iceland? Admittedly, Iceland is a wild place where you are against the elements. So, for bold, independent travelers renting a 4×4 vehicle is the ideal way to see the very best of Iceland’s otherworldly beauty. Taking it one step further, rending a 4×4 campervan gives you access to some of Iceland’s most impressive views without the worry of getting back to your hotel every night. We rented a converted 4×4 camper from KuKu Campers Rental, which gave us a safe, cozy place to lay our heads every night.
But, the rustic and humble accommodation of sleeping in a campervan during some of Iceland’s temperamental weather isn’t for everyone. Beyond that, Kuku Campers, as a company, caters to a unique type of traveler looking for a slow, sustainable, and authentic adventure. Even for Ganesh and I, two experienced outdoor camping enthusiasts, renting a campervan in Iceland with KuKu Campers during winter offered a unique set of challenges that kept us on our toes. Still, it was balanced with the freedom and independence to traverse any road and sleep near any waterfall. It was just us and the open road sleeping under the stars and creating our own destiny.
The views expressed in this review are my own, and this was not a sponsored post. We visited Iceland nearly eight years ago, and as I revisit this post in 2023 to update the guide, I am reminded that we visited before the big boom of Iceland’s mass tourism era began. Today, there are countless more campervan and rental car companies, but something about Kuku Campers continues to stand out. When we rented with Kuku Campers, they were a smaller company with a limited and arguably more rustic fleet. However, they managed to maintain their quirky, wholesome company values rooted in their humble beginning as a campervan rental company for the truly adventurous traveling soul.
Based on recent updates to their website, I’ve updated this post to help you decide whether renting a campervan with Kuku Campervans is the right choice for your Iceland adventure. P.S. sorry about the photos circa iPhone 5.
The Kuku Campers Ethos
While many car and campervan rental companies exist in Iceland, Kuku’s ethos and values are unique. Right on the front page of their website, they say if you are looking for a tourist campervan experience to travel like tourists around other tourists, then leave their site immediately. Kuku Campers offers vans and services for authentic and meaningful travel around Iceland like a traveler.
The company is owned by Iceland locals passionate about sustainable and responsible travel. So, if you are interested in slower and more meaningful travel and not just checking off Iceland’s big ticket items from your list, then KuKu Campers might be right for you. As soon as we entered their cozy office, we got good vibes from them as a company. With a food and gear swap, helpful locals, and excellent service, Kuku Campers is Iceland’s best campervan rental company for those looking to connect with Iceland deeply.
Should you Rent a Campervan in Iceland?
The Benefits of Kuku Campervan Rentals in Iceland
1. Save Money
A campervan saves money in the long run. Accommodation in Iceland is expensive, books up in advance, and sometimes is few and far between in remote areas. The rental price of a campervan is a bit steeper when you compare it to a car, but when you factor in the savings, a campervan rental helped us lower our costs.
Another cost-saving benefit comes from the ability to cook your meals in the campervan. Dining out in Iceland is very expensive. With a campervan, you can shop at supermarkets while sticking to a strict budget and cooking meals in your van.
Kuku Campers advertises the lowest price and the best quality in Iceland. They also don’t have any hidden costs or additional fees. Additional drivers are free. You can add extras for an additional price, but that is up to you.
2. Enjoy Freedom
Time and time again, we changed plans in Iceland. If we had booked hotels or BnBs, we would have been locked into a set itinerary. We were free to go down any road without worrying about returning to check into a hotel on time, and our bed was always with us. One of our spontaneous stops was at Iceland’s Secret Lagoon, which was much less crowded and more authentic than the Blue Lagoon.
With Iceland becoming a popular tourist destination, some stops you want to make might be crowded, but with a campervan, you can return at another time or ride out the peak traffic in the comfort of your car.
3. 4×4 and Vehicle Options
We rented a 4×4 Dodge Durango that was converted into a campervan. This allowed us to navigate the snow and ice of Icelandic winter driving safely. When we visited in January, the wind, rain, and storms were so intense that we saw other cars’ doors ripped off their hinges. The sturdy 4×4 was an all-around better option for navigating Iceland’s roads and handling the weather.
Additionally, Kuku Campers has campervan options ranging from big to small. Options that fit two people to a group of five. Some of their newer models even have really nice tables and bench seating, perfect for the digital nomad or just a cozy meal around the table.
4. Maximize Your Time Exploring
When we visited in winter, we only had about 4-5 hours of daylight. That meant we didn’t have a lot of time to spend at each of our stops. The campervan allowed us to maximize our time by driving to a site and cooking breakfast. Then at the crack of dawn, we could start a short hike or venture out to explore before returning to the campervan.
Additionally, with those long days in the summer, you can easily spend 12+ hours out exploring. It is nice to return to the campervan to take breaks, cook a hot meal, or enjoy a glass of Icelandic schnapps picnic style out of your campervan.
5. Get off the Beaten Track
With most major tour companies and tourist itineraries visiting a few spots in Iceland, these spots can get very crowded. The staff at Kuku Campers are experts who can help you plan an authentic tour that will help you diffuse mass tourism. We traveled in winter, so we still visited several highlights without crowds. Plus, it is harder to get to more unique destinations during winter. However, we still visited a few hidden gems and found ourselves alone, enjoying the glue glaciers and stunning hikes throughout SE Iceland.
6. Local Expertise
There was hardly any information online before we visited Iceland. We entered the country clueless about the rules of the road, areas accessible in winter, the best places to camp, or that it might be a good idea to purchase sheep insurance – yes, that is a thing. Thankfully the Kuku community and employees were very helpful in passing along all this valuable insider information. If you visit their website, they even have some sample itineraries, information about Iceland culture, the cost of gas, laws about where you can/can’t camp, and other critical information to know before you head off on your next adventure.
8. Meet Other Campers
Spotting another campervan on the road with the Kuku Campervan sticker is always fun – you know you are part of Iceland’s engaged and adventurous community of travelers. Aside from that, a new-ish law states you can no longer pull your campervan over on the side of the road and park. You must instead park at a designated campground. Thankfully, you can drive up and get a spot for most of these, but it is an excellent opportunity to meet other like-minded travelers and share a good story.
9. Free Shuttle
Since we had pre-booked our Kuku Campervan online, we had a ride waiting for us at the airport. Kuku Campers offers a free airport shuttle to their downtown office, a ride that is about 45 minutes. It was great to step off the plane and not worry about how we would get to the Kuku office to start our road trip. Ensure they have your flight details and be prepared to share the shuttle with other guests.
10. Roadside Assistance
Iceland can be challenging for a road trip; with extreme wind, icy roads, meandering sheep, and other hazards, you might need roadside assistance occasionally. Thankfully, Kuku Campers offers a network of services at garages nationwide. We were advised that knowing how to do things like changing a tire in a pinch would be helpful. Thankfully, we did not need this service, but it was nice to know it was available.
The Challenges of Kuku Camper Rentals
These challenges are mainly focused on general campervan experiences in Iceland rather than directed at Kuku Campers precisely. But, to be frank, Kuku campers aren’t for everyone. It might not be for you if you don’t like camping, roughing it in the wild, or extreme driving.
Kuku Campervans are probably some of the best-built campervans out there. Their vehicles are all converted by experts, providing you with a great car, a solid place to lay your head, and space to cook your meals, but they do not embody #vanlife. I can’t believe I didn’t get a photo of the inside of our van, but it is important to note that they are functional yet rustic. Our experience felt more like car camping than plush campervan life. We were totally fine with that as we both have experience with tent camping. Set your expectations, and you’ll have a great time.
2. Bathroom Limitations
With that, no bathrooms or ways to shower in the campervan exist. Considering that you should not use the restroom outdoors in Iceland, you must plan your stops and camping locations based on bathroom facilities. Every campsite that you legally have to park at has toilets. We only showered when we stopped at hot springs and thermal baths. We would shower, soak, shower. But, other than that, we skipped the shower. So, make sure you plan your stops and activities around you need to use the toilet or shower.
3. Difficult Driving
I was born and raised in Alaska and grew up driving on winter roads in extreme conditions, and Iceland in winter pushed the limits of my driving abilities. In winter, you should be comfortable driving a large campervan through snow, ice, wind, rain, and rocky terrain. In summer, you should be comfortable driving 4×4 backcountry on narrow winding roads with obstacles. You should also be aware of animals like sheep crossing the roads before you.
4. Extreme Weather and Conditions
If you can only sleep if the room is a perfect temperature, light, or other specifics, campervan travel in Iceland might not be for you. We were frequently woken up to extreme wind storms that shook our car. One night we couldn’t get our heater working and had to bundle up and deal with a cold night. You might want to stay in a hotel if you want four solid walls around you.
Camping Laws and Rules in Iceland
We visited in January 2016 when camping was hardly regulated in Iceland. In the summer of 2016, Iceland ruled that you must camp at a designated campground for the night. You can not pull over and set up your camper anywhere. Iceland has campgrounds open in summer, with a few open year-round. You can find some of the best campgrounds on Kuku Camper’s website.
For other rules of the road and general advice on renting a campervan, and road safety, check out my complete guide to driving in Iceland.
Our experience with Kuku Campers
Our experience started with a prompt pick-up at the airport, where our two jovial guides helped us with the luggage, and we were on our way. The drive from the airport to the city was 45 minutes filled with jokes, laughter, inside tips, and personal stories about growing up in Iceland. Our local guide shared information about how U.S. military presence completely changed the landscape and socioeconomic status of the country.
Back at the office, we went over the paperwork. The staff provided us with information on Iceland’s slightly complicated insurance system. Insurance is essential, as liability often rests with the driver, but some of the insurance seemed unnecessary. After verifying with our credit card company what they offered, we chose a middle-of-the-line package. We did opt for sheep insurance. With winter and low-light driving, we didn’t want to collide with livestock accidentally and have to pay the farmer for loss of income.
After the paperwork was done, we began to plan our trip. They marked some exclusive places with access to their computer and easy-to-read maps. Have you heard of the commercialized Blue Lagoon? Yes? Well, how about Secret Lagoon… ; ) We came prepared with ideas, but after their help researching and providing us with a realistic itinerary for winter, we came up with a tremendous day-to-day plan. Check out our Iceland 5-day Itinerary, created with KuKu Campers’ help.
The campers come fully equipped with a phone charging plug, a cook stove and utensils, a fridge/icebox that cools when the car is on, cleaning supplies, and a heater. Additional items that can be purchased for small fees are sleeping bags, pillows, camping chairs, a table, and GPS. Since it was winter out, we doubled up on sleeping supplies and nothing else. I would recommend the GPS for anyone who doesn’t have international data. We used Google Maps and burned through a lot of data. We sorted through the stockpile of leftover and unopened food, water, and supplies, a system for the Kuku Camper community to reduce waste.
After the safety training included how to open your car door in a wind storm, so it doesn’t get ripped off the hinges, we were allowed to inspect the car before we departed. Once you hit the road, you’re mostly on your own. KuKu has a nationwide network of offices and garages you can pull into or call if you need help. However, for small things, like tire changes and general safety precautions, you should be able to handle this yourself.
We did have issues with our heater, so make sure your heater works before departing. If you’re traveling in the winter, you have plenty of warm clothing and blankets in case the heater goes out.
KuKu Campers is a perfect option for the confident, whimsical traveler. If you don’t want to worry about changing a tire, driving on rough terrain, and skipping a shower, this may not be your option. But this is an excellent option if you want the freedom of the open road, rustic and exciting camping adventures, and a personalized itinerary on your own time.
For up-to-date information on vehicle pricing, options, and FAQ, check out the KuKu Campers website.
Would You Rent a Campervan in Iceland
Would you rent a Kuku Campervan in Iceland to brave the elements for an experience unlike any other? Let me know in the comments.
Hi thanks for the insights! But can you let me know how much would it cost for your camper van per day? thanks!