An Icelandic Road Trip – Part 4

I was exhausted after such a long and active day, so I decided not to set an alarm for the following morning. I needed the sleep and thought to myself, breakfast will not go anywhere! I woke up a little later than my usual, but I didn’t fuss about a lost hour or two. I was there to enjoy myself not to torment it, so I took my time that morning. After treating myself to a nice breakfast at the guesthouse, I headed out to start my day. First stop of the day was the nearby Skógafoss.

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Skógafoss Waterfall

Skógafoss is situated on the river Skógá at the cliffs of the former coastline before it receded towards the sea. The cliffs now remain at a distance of about 5 km from the ocean. The waterfall is one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland and can easily be spotted while driving the ring road. I remember gasping at the sight of it when I drew near its location. It has a drop of 60 meters and the flatness of the river below it allows one to get closer to the wall of water. On the side of the waterfall there are stairs that lead up to a platform where the waterfall can be viewed from above.

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The view of Skógafoss from the viewing platform

I loved Skógafoss. There was something about the way it was structured that mesmerized me. The elevated viewing platform offered expansive views of the river and the coastline so don’t be discouraged by those couple of hundred steps. When I came down from the platform I was in luck because the sun decided to make a sudden appearance at the time and that allowed for the most beautiful rainbow ❤ Yes! If you are visiting on a sunny day you are bound to see a rainbow, even a double rainbow sometimes.

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Can you spot the rainbow ❤

Skógafoss is located withing the town of Skógar, there is a camping site and other accommodation options within the premises. For museum lovers, the nearby Skógar Museum might be of interest. And for the hiking enthusiasts, the Fimmvörðuháls Pass is one of the most popular hiking trails in Iceland and starts here.
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A love padlock spotted at Skógafoss. May your love be eternal as the flow of a waterfall ❤

After Skógafoss I was back on the ring road heading east till I took a right turn on road 218 so I can reach my next stop, Dyrhólaey. Dyrhólaey is a promontory that’s divided into two parts, a higher part and a lower one, and to reach the higher part you will need to turn right at some point along road 218 and drive up the hill till you reach a clearing decorated by an old castle-like lighthouse. The drive up the hill is a little tricky and one needs to be cautious driving it. I saw cars coming down and it freaked me out a little because it made me realize how steep the incline was. Words of advice here, if there is a little traffic on the way down don’t congest it by squeezing yourself to go up. All the driving I had in the Scottish Highlands paid off that day I guess as I decided to wait for the flock of cars to come down before starting my ascend. That decision won me a couple of greetings from the descending cars. You are welcome! My heart was pounding like crazy as my turn to drive up came! It wasn’t a paved path and there were quite big rocks in there as well not to mention the edge of the hill!! Oh man I sighed in relief once I parked the car on the top.

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The arch of Dyrhólaey

The top of the hill was ridiculously windy! I literally had to hold my phone so tight when I was taking pictures otherwise it would have flown away! Putting the wind and the cold aside, the views were epic! To the north you have the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, to the east you have the Reynisdrangar black lava stacks, to the west you have an endless black coastline, and just in front of the peninsula you have the standing arch of black lava which the peninsula is named after. Absolutely gorgeous ❤ It wasn’t that clear at that time of the day but still the views, and the cold, took my breath away 😀

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Black coastline to the west of Dyrhólaey

I didn’t explore the lower part of Dyrhólaey where there is a beautiful beach that offers amazing views of the south coast and the Reynisdrangar stacks. You might want to keep that in mind whenever you are visiting Dyrhólaey. The beach is located at the very end of road 218.
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The view of the south coast from a cave a long road 218 with the stacks of Reynisdrangar in the background (a little look to the right and you will be able to see those standing basalt columns)

I went back on the ring road afterwards and headed east again. That time my destination was the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. Reynisfjara is one of the most beautiful black beaches in Iceland. It is home for the Hálsanefshellir cave and the Reynisdrangar stacks. It was voted as one of the top 10 non-tropical beaches to visit on the planet by National Geographic in 1991. The wind picked up its pace by the time I had the car parked at the beach! It was so strong that the car was shaking right and left with me inside and the flying sad was hitting the car so audibly! Thank God for that sand damage waiver I thought to myself!

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Reynisfjara Beach with the Hálsanefshellir Cave to the left and the stacks of Reynisdrangar in the background

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The stacks of Reynisdrangar. This is not a black & white picture!

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Hálsanefshellir Cave

As you might have guessed, the beach was beauteous. I have never seen a black beach, where the sand is actually black, before and I was awestruck! I was walking on sand that was as black as coal and its contrast with the surroundings was mesmerizing. I walked around taking in the somber color palette of the beach and enjoyed every bit of it. I marveled at the Hálsanefshellir cave and admired the basalt columns of the Gardar Cliff. I also wondered at the basalt stacks of Reynisdrangar from a safe distance. I loved it at the beach and after I was done with my visit, I stopped at the café shop near the parking area for a midday break of coffee and cake.

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Oats and jam marriage cake. I got it because of its name and it wasn’t bad at all 😀

It is imperative to acknowledge the danger of the Atlantic Ocean waves that lurk the south coast of Iceland. They are sudden and abrupt and can literally come out of nowhere and wash away what’s in front of them. People have lost their lives being close to the water on the Reynisfjara beach, so it is crucial to keep your distance. That was one of the warnings I read online about visiting the beach! Nonetheless, I still saw people getting extremely close to the water and being surprised by a wave that knocked them down and left them wet! You need to be safe and responsible while visiting.
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The basalt columns of the Gardar Cliff

Another site to look at the Reynisdrangar stacks from is the Beach of Vik which offers an eastern viewpoint to Reynisdrangar. It was a short drive away and that was where I headed next. It was gloomier than before by the time I arrived, and it seemed I was the only person in the area. I didn’t see anyone else nor other parked cars, I felt I was trespassing or something and it was a little eerie I have to admit. It would have been quite a walk to reach the stacks at a closer proximity from that side and I decided against it as it was getting darker and grayer. I didn’t want to be that far from the car in case the weather pulled a number on me! instead, I looked at them from afar and enjoyed the vastness of the beach before I headed to the car to drive back to the guesthouse. Driving to/from Vik was something! I drove through some really high inclinations. I wasn’t able to see what was coming across from me in some occasions! Please handle that part of the road with care. 

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The stacks of Reynisdrangar as seen from The Beach of Vik

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The Beach of Vik with the stacks and the Voyages Friendship Statue in the background

I was feeling a little cold after that windy day, so I sought some warmth and comfort in a hot soup as a starter for dinner that evening. It was yet another night of fish for me and that time I went for the guesthouse’s famous mashed fish. Y.U.M.M.Y! I wrapped up dinner and geared up again for another nightly northern lights hunt.

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That was a delicious dinner 🙂

That time I drove to the parking of Seljalandsfoss. I set up the tripod and camera nicely and waited. After some time, I was joined by a group of elderly travelers from Asia who told how amazing the aurora was the night before in Reykjavik! They showed me the pictures they took, and they were so incredible indeed. So just like that I leave Reykjavik and the capital city pulls off quite a show ☹ I was really saddened about it especially when my hunt turned out to be quite unsuccessful!!

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Green hues but no dancing lights! I was being chased by clouds 😦

I waited for a couple of hours, again, hoping for a turn in events that never was able to make it! I admitted defeat and dragged myself back to the guesthouse and into my room. In the morning I was going to leave the guesthouse and go further east. I was blue about not witnessing the dancing lights but was looking forward to more of Iceland’s south coast and ended the day with that happy thought 😊 

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Falling more in love with Iceland ❤

 

The trip dates back to March 2017

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