My last tour with Reykjavik Excursions was called the South Shore Adventure and I highly recommend it. The tour left Reykjavik and headed out of the city and along the Southeast coast of the island. The tour goes as far east as the town of Vik. Before stopping there for lunch at a very casual cafe, we made a leg stretch/rest stop after about 90 minutes of driving at a large gas station/convenience store, a stop at Mýrdalsjökull glacier, and also Reynisfjara Beach. After lunch on this tour, we visited the Skogar Folk Museum, and the two majestic waterfalls - Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss. It was a long day but one packed with action and scenery that I could only imagine in photographs previously and more of that unspoiled Iceland that I mentioned in a previous post.
For the sake of a theme, “water and waterfalls”, I’m covering Gullfoss (the waterfall from the Golden Circle Tour) Skogafoss, and Seljalandsfoss, Mýrdalsjökull, and the Reynisfjara beach. I feel like I am saving the best for last with this post. I truly loved visiting three waterfalls. I’ve seen waterfalls before, but none that I remember to be so beautiful that I can walk behind, observed from the top and bottom, or from so many viewpoints. Each one was so different.
Gullfoss, the top photo, emptied into a canyon near the Golden Circle so the land surrounding it was fairly flat and the views around it were just stretches of green. The sun was shining that day and rainbows were visible from the reflection of the sun in the spray. The water falls at an incredible rate of 109 cubic meters per second from what is roughly translated as the Golden Falls, and from a height of about 32 meters. This waterfall was beautiful but it was like the teaser for the other two, in my opinion.
Skogafoss was the second waterfall I saw in all in Iceland and the first waterfall of the South Shore Adventure tour. It was one you could observe from the bottom and climb the stairs to the 60-meter height to overlook the drop. We had 30 minutes at this stop and I had befriended another American on my trip, who also ran the Reykjavik marathon 3 days prior, and at the stop, we just decided to race to the top of the very steep, winding staircase for the view. I am so glad we did, the view was spectacular at the top and at the bottom. Apparently, once you’re at the top there is a hiking trail that leads to a pass between two glaciers. I would absolutely go back and do this. I am not much a camper but I could be totally convinced to become one for views of the Icelandic countryside.
Seljalandsfoss was by far my favorite waterfall of this trip and possibly of what I’ve seen in my life. This is the famous waterfall you can walk behind. There are no views from the top but the muddy, wet walk behind it is worth it for the unique viewpoint. You will get wet, very wet, walking behind this one. But who cares? I probably took 20-30 photos of just this waterfall. It was mesmerizing to stand behind it and watch the water fall. The drop on Seljalandsfoss is also 60 meters, the same as Skogafoss.
Moving on from waterfalls:
The Mýrdalsjökull Glacier was the very first sightseeing stop on the South Shore Adventure. I am pictured standing across the glacial lake/pond from it. It is amazing to me that a glacier can stay frozen for as long as it has been frozen despite the fact that it was in the 50′s F outside. Old, frozen ice is apparently very tough! Mýrdalsjökull was the first glacier I’ve ever seen in person. Some excursions actually allow you to walk on the glacier (they outfit you with proper gear and a guide) and other tours involve a boat on the glacial lake that Mýrdalsjökull has created. There are so many ways to explore the glaciers of Iceland. Mýrdalsjökull is not Iceland’s biggest glacier, Vatnajökull is, which is farther east and a bit north of Vik and very large. The wind was whipping across that glacier and into the walkway/valley and I am so glad I had sunglasses and had worn my hair in a ponytail since I was still working with Blue Lagoon hair. The wind was so strong at times that it was difficult to walk! As much as I could go on about the glacier, I think it is something you have to experience in person.
Finally, the stop at Reynisfjara Beach was special to me. Growing up in Florida, on the Atlantic coast, the beach is one of my happy places. I love the ocean, the sand, and the waves. There is always something interesting about seeing the same ocean you know so well, from an entirely different viewpoint and different country! The roaring North Atlantic Ocean that washes up on the Iceland coast is a far different beast than its counterpart that washes up on the Florida coastline. The Reykjavik Excursions guide and the Curator at the Skogar Folk Museum told us that the currents are extremely strong and the wind is brutal. I honestly can’t ever imagine sailing to the island in a wooden ship from Sweden or Norway like the Vikings and original settlers did. Seasickness!
Iceland was such a beautiful country populated by lovely, kind people. The flight from Boston and New York City is approximately 5 hours and the time difference from the east coast is 5 hours. I am very much looking forward to a future visit and exploring more of the country.