Usually I start off with some writing but to be honest, photographs are more fitting to start off. Iceland has blown me away so far. I landed in Reykjavik expecting bitter cold weather and Iceland did not disappoint. My expectations were fully met. In January, the winds are dangerously high so much so that you feel like you're about to lose control of the car and snow turns into ice. Nonetheless it was beautiful as everything was covered in white snow. On the first day, my baby was ill so I decided to stay low key and see the city instead of my plan to immediately start the road trip around the island but more of the city tour later as I will be returning to visit more of Reykjavik later on my travels. For now, I'd like to share my travels around the south of Iceland.
Ok so firstly, you may want to check out my itinerary here so you can keep up with where I am. And secondly, I'm not going to discuss much about the Golden Circle because I personally did not think it was worth it, in comparison to everything else I've seen so far. However if Iceland is a stop over for you and you don't have much time, then by all means visit the massive Gullfoss waterfalls and Stokker Geysir. The geysir erupts every 15 minutes and is quite a spectacle at sunrise and sunset. It is also worth stopping by to have a look at Bruarfoss which is just before the geysir. Tour buses don't stop here because there is no parking in the village for them but this was by far the best part of the Golden Circle for me. It is the bluest waterfall I have ever seen and Im prepared to list this one as one of Iceland's hidden gems because over here, you won't find any tourists at all! The only people who visit these falls are the locals walking their dogs.
The first place I visited in Iceland was Reykjanes Peninsula. This is the area where the airport is located so of course it's a good idea to see the area on your way to the capital. As you drive on Route 41, you will notice black rocks with green moss on top. This is old lava and that moss, which is 15 centimetres thick and so soft to lie on, has taken years to grow like that and look like carpet. Stop by and take a look for yourself. If you're a bit like me and keen on learning more about geothermal activity, head towards Seltún. There are a lot of study opportunities here due to the vast variety of features. A boardwalk leads through the area. Seltún has many mudpots and fumaroles, and minerals deposited from geothermal solutions provide colorful sediments. Drive towards the tip of Reykjanes and you will find a natural swimming pool but more of that in later posts. If you don't mind something manmade but very beautiful, book yourself into the infamous spa at Blue Lagoon. As I previously mentioned in a past blog post, the Blue Lagoon is always busy so ensure that you pre-book before you even leave home for Iceland.
After touring the city and swimming in a few hot pots around the region, we decided to move on with our journey around the island so we started our journey to Vìk. It is a small town in the south of Iceland and is usually a good place to stop for the night after sight seeing. On the way, we passed a few waterfalls. I particularly loved these falls because they are high and you can get so close them, but prepared to get very wet. The first significant waterfalls that we passed was Seljalandsfoss and whilst they're quite impressive, the real gem is 15 minutes walk from them and not many people bother to go to see these waterfalls. The gem is Gljufrabui because you have to walk through a cave to find it and when you do, My God!
After these falls, we continued down Route 1 and stopped by a wild swimming pool for an hour before heading onto the magestic Skogafoss. I will share more on the wild swimming pool in a later post.
Before our final stop at the hotel in Vìk, we stopped by the stunning black beach. The sand is soft and so shiny. Argh! Just beautiful. We wanted to stop here for a picnic but it was far too windy and busy so we ended up eating in the car. By this stage, we were so tired but I'd heard about a plane that crashed on a nearby beach years ago and I really wanted to see it so we carried on driving down Route 1. We kept expecting to see a sign that would lead us to the plane but we didn't. What we did see were a lot of cars parked by the main road with no sign of what people were stopping to see. So we stopped there too. We followed a couple who led us to the plane. My understanding is that the plane crashed in 1973 and the passengers did survive. However, it still the most surreal thing to see but such a great place to spot the northern lights at 2am ?