Have you ever walked behind a waterfall?
The first stop of our third day in Iceland brought us to Seljalandsfoss. It drops from 60 meters of height and it is not difficult to find, in fact you can see if from the ring road. Remember the impossible-to-pronounce volcano (Eyjafjallajökull) which erupted in 2010 and caused disruption to air traffic in Europe? Well, one of the glaciers around it melts into a river which creates this waterfall.
If you haven’t done so yet, you should put on your waterproof gear and anti-slip shoes before walking behind it. As you can imagine, you will get wet. We’ve seen people with sneakers, jeans and leather jackets being scared away as soon as they approached the path. You can’t miss this out! There is a pay-and-display car park nearby, it shouldn’t be a struggle to find a spot.
I was not aware of it while being there, but there is another waterfall close to Seljalandsfoss called Gljúfrabúi. This is hidden behind some rocks and not as many tourists visit it.
Continuing South you’ll find another well-known Icelandic waterfall, Skógafoss. Despite it being the same height as Seljalandsfoss, it is a lot wider (25 m) and if you’re lucky enough to enjoy some sunshine, it will be accompanied by a beautiful rainbow.
There is one thing you should definitely do here. Take the path right next to the waterfall and ascend until you reach the top. As a reward you’ll find the first spot in Iceland that really gave me goosepumps! The river flows up until the glaciars through mountains and an endless stretch of green. Walk for another 5 minutes and the landscape will turn into a different postcard in your mind.
The good news is that the further away you go, the less people you’ll see. But it’s not a busy spot and you’ll have time and empty spaces to enjoy all by yourself.
When you are ready to move on, continue on the main road to see where these waterfalls are born. Iceland has different glaciers and it could be worth taking a tour to visit one. While most people stop at Jökulsárlón, the iceberg lagoon a little bit further East, the smaller area around Skógafoss is also beautiful. No matter whether you go in the winter or summer, it is advisable to book your tour beforehand. We arrived there in the afternoon and were told that most tours start in the morning and fill up quickly. Besides, in warmer days they don’t allow people on the glaciars because there is a higher risk. It is weird to think that such natural formations used to be a lot bigger, and that the rate at which they are getting smaller is higher and higher. Climatic change follows its own rhythm, but pollution caused by humans has caused a dramatic impact on it. Seeing (almost) uncontaminated places such as Iceland is a strong reminder of how important it is to preserve nature.
From here, continue on the main road until you reach the coast, where the famous black sand beach of Reynisfjara is (commonly known with the name of the nearby village of Vík). Before descending towards the beach you can stop at the top of a cliff where the view will take your breath away! At the back, green mountains and volcanoes. On the side, black sand. In front of you, the sea. The contrast of colours seems fake for how perfectly painted it is.
You’ll reach the beach if you follow the Reynisfjari sign towards Route 215 and drive for another 10 minutes. Here you’ll see basalt columns which can be found in other places in Iceland, such as Svartifoss. When lava descends it can take several tens of years to cool down. During that process, the contraction causes cracks which allow for the formation of hexagonally-shaped columns. Because of their magical appearance, it comes as no surprise that Icelandic legends talk about trolls being turned into rocky columns after the sun rose from the darkness of the night.
The beach is considered one of the most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world and I can see why! It is also famous for an abandoned airplane which crashed there in 1973. Although it is now forbidden to drive directly to Sólheimasandur beach, you can leave your car 4 km behind and head to the sea. For detailed information on how to find it see https://expertvagabond.com/airplane-crash-wreckage-iceland/.
When visiting Reynisfjara take extra care! There is a phenomenon called “sneaker waves” which took lives in the past and can be unpredictable. Stronger waves develop and crash on the shore, taking back anything they can. So don’t get too close to the water, always face it and don’t underestimate how close they’ll get to you.
Our final destination for day 3 was Guesthouse Nypugardar. This was by far the best accommodation for us in Iceland. Surrounded by fields and glaciars, we slept in a little, enchanting bungalow. Breakfast was included and it was very abundant, with a great choice of typical Icelandic food served in a room with windows on 3 sides and a spectacular view. For €120/night it was well worth it!
Ready for day 4?
Do you want to save money on your next trip? Use the code luciam01 when you book via www.booking.com and you’ll receive €20/£15/$25 after your stay 🙂