In Iceland: Renting a Car with Kuku Campers

*Kuku have updated their fleet and mileage policies, so this is my opinion on a car that is no longer on their lot*

At first I said I want to go to Iceland. Check. Then I said I want to drive in Iceland. Check. And now that I am back home, I want to drive a 4×4 in Iceland. Thankfully there are lots of rental companies with lots of different types of cars and cars for different budgets.

If you want to read my 4×4 camper review click here!

Kuku Campers.

What I liked: 

They rent to people ages 20 and up. On their website in their FAQ page they state that they will rent to anyone 20 and older who has a full drivers licence. Excellent! This is probably the number one reason I booked with them. I have always wanted to drive in another country and Kuku could make that happen!

Independence. Having the freedom to make your own timetable. Not having to be back on a bus at a certain time was the best. Iceland shouldn’t have a timer. It should be enjoyed at your own pace. Being able to drive anywhere (with the exception of the highlands) was just amazing!

You can camp almost anywhere. Now I have heard it’s illegal to camp somewhere other than an campsite in a town that has one but one night I had to sleep in a petrol station car park. You probably should do way more research than I did on campsites and where to sleep but I just went with the flow. Also I must confess, I think I stole a night’s sleep at Skogafoss. I generally think if you are out of the way and not causing any damage or disruption to man or animal, you will be ok. But do more research!

Was pretty comfortable to sleep in. I decided that the first thing I needed to do was go to Ikea (5 mins away from Kuku’s reception) and get a pillow and duvet. Luckily the two items were less than €10 and they made all the difference! Once you get your pillow, sleeping bag, duvet situation sorted and you are in a pair of fluffy socks it can be very comfy! Do note though it does get horrendously cold. Like really really cold. Bring all layers. But once you find the right cocoon you will be fine.

What I didn’t like:

Difficult to get to. So taxi’s in Iceland are renowned for being very expensive. I think it would have cost €80 to get from the airport to the industrial estate Kuku is located. The flybus+ drops passengers to local hotels. I asked what is the closest hotel they could drop me to the street Kuku Campers is on and it was no where near where I needed to be. So that meant I had to ask them to pick me up for a fee of €50. Not so bad but I wanted to find a cheaper alternative.

Old car.  So I chose to get an A Category Renault Kangoo but then Kuku choose what camper you get. It was a 2005 model with 216000 kilometers on the dial. This is a 10 year old car and although I have no doubt that their mechanic is top notch, the car had issues purely for being an old car.PhoebeGill150916886 It had belt issues, which meant that when I started up the car a loud squealing noise would sound from it. Meaning everyone camping around me could hear it too. I felt really bad driving though a load of people most likely waking them up. The full headlights only worked sometimes. It would be pitch black and I couldn’t get the lights to click into place. At one point I had to jam it four or five times because I needed to be seen at 10pm on the isolated south coast road, it finally stayed on after that. Not only that but the main headlight bulbs had gone on one side.

Luckily I got all of the insurances because it was given to me with three cracks in the window. This just means you have to be extra careful that you don’t go into a pothole and make the cracks bigger. Stupidly I didn’t check the window when I was marking the sheet of all of the dents and scratches so I am probably liable for them. So if you are a first time renter check the windows! Thankfully they take on full costs of fixing it if you have the insurance.

It had a horrendous sticky gear box. I actually have a bruise on my palm because getting the camper into reverse was stupidly hard. I would lift up the button to get the car in reverse, put it in gear and it would bounce out again. Going into third when your supposed to be in first was all too easy and it made for a frustrating experience.

I didn’t notice this until I got home and drove my own car but the camper had incredibly ridged steering. I developed strained forearm muscles because I had to pull the steering wheel harder than my own car. Not to mention, in the wind it is actually painful to keep the car in a straight line. Icelandic wind is no joke, slow down and you should be ok.

Basically I think Britney is on her way out.

The look. I really don’t mean to offend anyone here but this camper was embarrassing to drive around in.  If you know me in my day to day life than you know that I am a very private, quiet person. I keep to myself and I try not get in anyones way. Kuku campers are the complete opposite of that entirely! On one side it had a haunting paint job of Britney’s iconic shaved head picture of her about to beat the paparazzi with an umbrella. This wasn’t a very good likeness and the paint is so light that it doesn’t really look like her. The other side said “I’m not that innocent” The two sides don’t really match up. Also as a solo female traveller it’s not the nicest thing to have on the side of your vehicle. Luckily Iceland is safe.

PhoebeGill1509181288I could laugh it off in the beginning but as more and more people were looking at me and reading the side of it, the more I just wanted to sink into the ground. I got very odd looks and not a lot of laughs.

Another thing that really irked me entirely was that everyone else got a new camper. Kuku got a new fleet of campers with smaller paint jobs and lots of logos so a passer by knows it’s a rental and don’t assume the person diving is a crazy woman with a weird Britney obsession! Actually when I first arrived at the reception I saw a new one and was quite excited because I thought I was going to get it but alas.PhoebeGill150917040

I don’t know if I drew a short straw or if they gave me an old one because of my age but I payed almost €700 for a camper for 5 days and by the end of it I hated the camper. Which is such a shame.

300km a day limit. *They now have unlimited kms* Now I know this to many people would seem a stupid thing to put down as something to not like. I am sure people can keep to the limit very easily but I was by myself and I love driving which means that I drove all day. I don’t regret how much I drove at all. I had so much fun but the limit was constantly on my mind. It is €0.50 per km you go over.

Cooking. Although the camper comes with everything you need, I hate cooking. I hate timing things and putting things together. It is irritating and because there is no way to keep stuff fresh the main things I eat, couldn’t be brought with me in the camper. I just decided to eat hot dogs from the petrol stations, they are cheap and pretty tasty.

Filling up the tank:

I thought petrol was going to be really expensive so I put more of my savings into my account to make sure petrol would be covered but I was very pleasantly surprised. I drove over 1500km and I really did not spend that much at all. I thought when I got home and checked my balance I would have to sit down but no.  I did’t have to top up that often and by that much each time.

Top tips!

  1. Cover your head when you are sleeping! Either with a blanket or duvet. I know it can feel very claustrophobic but if you have even a small barrier between your face and the cold it makes the world of difference. Creating a cocoon is very important when sleeping in a freezing cold van.
  2. I got an power converter from Lidl and it was perfect at charging my phone and iPod for the five days I was there. They have them but it is an added extra of €20.
  3.  Bring plastic carrier bags. For wet clothes, boots, rubbish they are the handiest things. You can pick up a roll for a euro.
  4. Have a road map. You never know if your phone is going to play up or you forget to charge it. I think Eason online have maps for under €10.
  5. I added a camping chair to my booking and I didn’t use it once. Don’t bother.
  6. If you unfortunately get a 2005 camper you will need a FM transmitter if you want to listen to your own music. If you don’t have one that’s ok. Icelandic radio is very current and even among the lava fields you will probably get one station that doesn’t crack. I sang my lungs out to the tunes they were playing.
  7. GoPro motor mounts don’t stick well to dirty spray paint. Mine fell off twice. Thankfully there isn’t much traffic in the west part of Iceland.

The big question is would I recommend them? The answer is I don’t know. I think if you want to drive in Iceland and you are on a budget

, look into it and see what you think. Definitely check or ask about the new campers. Also if they try to give you Britney maybe run away. Actually at that point you have already paid for your camper entirely so that might be a waste of money. I think the ethos of the company is great but my experience had some issues.

Would I use them again? Probably not.

It wasn’t all bad. I just want you, my dear reader, to be informed about everything. I am so so happy I got to see Iceland my way and I got to sing along to the radio and pull over anywhere I wanted and discover new things I would never have got the chance to. I definitely recommend you rent any car in Iceland. I just think maybe it should be a little newer.

If you have any questions please leave them below! Do you know any other companies that rent to under 25 year olds in any part of the world? Let me know I am always interested!!

Happy Travels!