This is a continuation of my Blog (Iceland – Part 1) where I started my tour of this mystical and picturesque country. Iceland should be on the bucket list of every traveller and its natural beauty is unparalleled to any I have seen so far.
In my first blog we started our trip in the capital Reykjavik,some indulgence in the Blue Lagoon and a tour of the famous Golden Circle.
Day 3 we headed south of the island to start our tour of the Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss and the Back Sand Beach. An overnight stay at the picturesque village of Vik.
When you are in Iceland be prepared for all kinds of weather. Rain is common here and you can easily see more then 3 different weathers in one given day. If you plan on getting close to any of the waterfalls which you definitely will,make sure to carry your rain gear. You could again buy this here quite easily but will be pying 3 times the price, so carry one.
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. We hit the ring road which is designed perfectly for a round trip of the island and after 2 hours of driving our first stop the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. As your drive towards this spectacular site the Seljalandsfoss can be seen from miles away.
The waterfall sits at the end of a big cliff, and if this is your first view of a waterfall then be prepared to be astonished by its sheer beauty. The Seljalandsfoss drops 60m down from a cliff. The best part about this waterfall is that you can walk behind it which I think is the most unique thing about this particular waterfall.
You will see plenty of waterfalls in Iceland but once you get behind this particular fall there is no comparison. There are a few movies that have been filmed here and bollywood has surely made it more popular I must say. If you are lucky enough and the sun is up this is a spectacular sight, with the luminous that sky magnifies the surrounding landscape and a rainbow blows you away. This is what you come to Iceland for and yes it deserves all the glory.
Next stop Skogafoss – After you cover Seljalandsfoss you will be in waterfall heaven, as there are plenty of small, large, famous not so famous waterfalls that you will drive by on your way to Skogafoss. Skógafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in the country with a width of 15 metres and a drop of 60 m. You can walk quite near the fall but yes that waterproof does come handy here with the amount of spray.
Due to the amount of spray the waterfall consistently produces, a single or double rainbow is normally visible on sunny days. According to legend, the first Viking settler in the area, buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall.
The legend continues that locals found the chest years later, but were only able to grasp the ring on the side of the chest before it disappeared again. The ring was allegedly given to the local church.The old church door ring is now in the Skógar museum.Don’t forget to hike up the wooden pathway for great views of the coast and the waterfall.
We had a small reunion at this spectacular location with some of our friends who were travelling with us on this part of our tour and after some quality time spent with them we headed to our next stop the Black Sand Beach.
The Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is one of the most famous and visited tourist spots in Iceland I must say. Every traveller wants to set their footprint on this unique black sand. The black sand of this beach makes it one of the most unique beaches in the world.
This is not a tanning kind of beach and more a visual treat as this was created by lava flowing into the ocean which cooled almost instantly as it touched the water. In honesty it is not sand but really small pieces of black polished rock if you see it closely. There are some strict warnings specially for kids here as the water here can be notorious and there have been incidents of children being washed away. On a happier note you will simply love this place and the kids have a lot of fun climbing the rocks near by.
The black sand isn’t the only lava creation on Reynisfjara. Opposite of the sea is an enormous natural pyramid made of basalt columns that looks like a staircase to the sky.
This basalt cliff is called Gardar which is so perfectly shaped that it is hard to imagine that nature did this.
The symmetrical columns were shaped when lava flowed out, cooled and contracted. The slow speed at which the lava cooled made it crack and create these hexagonal forms. The basalt cliffs rise from the sea and can be seen from miles away with visuals beyond belief.Legend has it that the Reynisdrangar formations are actually two trolls. One night when they were trying to pull a three-masted ship out of the sea, the sun began to rise. As the trolls caught daylight they turned to stone.
We had our fair share of this beautiful location and it was time to move on to our final stop of the day, the village of Vik.
The village of Vík is the southernmost village in Iceland, located on the main ring road around 180 km from Reykjavík. A remote seafront village and a popular stopover for travellers. It sits in the shadow of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which covers the Katla volcano.
A short drive up the hill and you get a panoramic view of this small village and Reyniskirkja. There is a small wooden church dating to 1929 on top of the hill as well.
Despite its small size and a mare 300 population it is the largest settlement in the south of Iceland and an important staging post. It is an important service center for the inhabitants and visitors to the coastal strip between Skógar and the west edge of the Mýrdalssandur glacial plain. There are a few shops but well stocked and you can get almost everything here (but at a price). The village is small and you can walk around within a few minutes.
We checked into our hotel (The Icelandair Vik) which was very comfortable and modern. It is quite famous wit tourists from all around the world and as there is not much of a choice here tend to get booked up very quickly. So once again please book early if you want to stay at this hotel. http://www.icelandairhotels.com.
The most beautiful part of Vik was the unbelievable and permanent sunset. We sat out and enjoyed this beautiful moment.
Day 4 started with a heavy breakfast at our hotel. This is highly recommended on all road trips in Iceland as you will have long drives before hitting any restaurants/cafes or service stations. Plus the cost of food in Iceland is HIGHHH. But when it comes to water its the best you can have and its freebee.
Our Plan for today – A boat tour on the breathtaking Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and a walk on the famous Diamond Beach.
First stop the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. It is a fair drive from Vik (roughly 2.5 hours) but an absolute must visit location and not to be missed. The icebergs floating in the lagoon is simply breathtaking.
It is believed that this large was developed from the melting of glaciers which started thousands of years ago and has continued to do so. The lake has grown since then at varying rates because of melting of the glaciers. The size of the lake has increased fourfold since the 1970s.
It is considered as one of the natural wonders of Iceland. This was by far one of my favourite and the highlight of this trip and a sight that you can only experience and no visuals or words can describe. You can also take a boat tour which brings you closer to the glacier. This can be booked in advance on the internet or bought at site. Costs roughly £40 for an adult.
A short drive from the Glacier Lagoon is another breadth taking sight, the Diamond Beach. This is beach near the lagoon where some icebergs wash up on the black sand! There are plenty of small icebergs shining in the black sand like diamonds ( thus the name Diamond Beach ) an absolute visual treat.
We started our drive back to Reykjavik and I must say this is a long one but this just becomes easier when you are driving through some of the most mesmerising views on this planet. The scenic views and a few stops to admire the natural beauty make this journey a very memorable one.
After a fun filled drive and some very interesting stops on the way (including the famous views that the world saw during the Ash cloud fiasco ) we finally reached Reykjavik in the evneing.
Quick check in and some well deserved rest before we went out and sampled some of the local cuisine. This is highly recommended when in Iceland and for me it was the famous reindeer burger.
A short walk around the city before heading to our apartment for a well deserved sleep.
Day 5. Was spent in Reykjavik and a visit to the Perlan,a landmark building in Reykjavík. Perlan is situated on the hill where there had been hot water storage tanks for decades. In 1991 the tanks were updated and a hemispherical structure placed on top. It houses some great exhibits such as the Glaciers and Ice Caves.
Featuring a man made Ice cave 100 meters long and made out of 350 tonnes of Ice and snow. On the second floor is an interactive show on glaciers in Iceland, their awesome nature but bleak future and the effect of climate change.Later in the year a Planetarium and a Northern Lights museum will open.There is a large observation deck and the best viewing point over Reykjavík and its surroundings.
One can see mountains, volcanoes, geothermal areas, the ocean and a glacier from this deck on a clear day.
Its was finally time to say goodbye to this mystic/picturesque and unforgettable country which I would deffinately come back to. we headed back to the airport dropped our car back and said our goodbyes to Iceland.
My Tips for Iceland.
- Take the weather seriously.
- If driving, stick to appropriate roads and don’t be experimental specially if you have kids.
- Dress appropriately & pack serious gear due to the weather which changes so rapidly.
- Plan ahead and this will help you save money and time.
- Drink the tap water you can’t get better.
- Car Rentals – they are expensive and so is gas to run them.
- Cost of Food – I won’t lie to you – it is expensive.
- Should you go to the Blue Lagoon? Yes definitely even though its touristy.
- When can I see the Northern Lights? – They are not out all year.
- Best Views in Reykjavik? – Hallgrímskirkja Church.
- Hours of Daylight – during the summer months you can see 24 hours of daylight which is probably the best time to visit.
- Waterfalls – they are everywhere.
- Food – Fish and Chips a must and the Icelandic food is based heavily on fish.
- Vegetarians it will be tough.
- Shoes – I would highly recommend waterproof boots.
- High Season – Summer ,which means you need to book in advance and prepare to pay a premium. But the best time to visit.
- Planning your Trip – decide on what is most important for you to see.
- Safety – Iceland is an extremely safe place to travel.