The morning started off bright and early at 6:45a (2:45a back home) for our Iceland Southern shore excursion. We ate a quick breakfast of croissants, juices and teas in the hotel lobby and then the small group made our way to the tour bus to drive 2.5 hours to the southern shores of Iceland.
The bus ride was a sleepy, dreamy ride through the still morning countryside, with the majority of the bus dozing off as our local tour guide quietly talks us through some Icelandic facts. We make a quick pit stop at a large convenience store for bathrooms and any snacks before making our way to the first stop on our list.
Our first stop was the incredible Seljalandsfoss waterfall. It is one of the best known waterfalls in Iceland. The waterfall drops 60 m (197 ft) and is part of the Seljalands River that has its origin in the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajokull . One of the interesting things about this waterfall is that visitors can walk behind the waterfall.
We had about 40 minutes to visit the falls in which we got completely soaked as we ran right up to the falls for pictures, and even went halfway behind the falls to feel and hear the thunderous waterfall. Despite getting wet, I can see why this is one of Iceland’s favorites.
We make a quick stop before the next landmark at the Eyjafjallajokull visitor center, which was a cute old garage turned into a quick, small movie theater that previewed a short 20 minute video made by a local family living next to the volcano who documented their experience as Eyjafjallajokull erupted in 2010. The video was both informative and cool and I highly recommend!
Just a couple miles down the road, on the other side of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano is the ginormous Skógafoss waterfall. The Skógafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in the country with a width of 15 metres (49 feet) and a drop of 60 m (200 ft).
This was I think my favorite of the two because as soon as we walked up to the bottom of the falls, a beautiful rainbow showed up – perfect for pictures!
Our next stop was the most awaited – the Reynisfjara beach, or better known as ‘The Black Sand Beach,” located in the town of Vik. This. Was. Incredible!
Massive basalt columns tower and climb up the sides of the cliff, lava formations, and caves. We walk across the both rocky and fine-powdered black sand beach towards the magnificent columns. Thousands upon thousands of black and orange puffins fly overhead and land on the grassy area above the cliffs. We snap tons of pictures, all the while trying not to get knocked over by the ‘sneaker’ waves that rush up onto the beach and unsuspecting visitors.
Now around 5:00p, the group heads down the street to the Icelandic Hotel in Vik for a group lunch. We graciously devour our two-course meal of angelic soup (sorry…I forgot to take a picture), which was a creamy soup, followed by a delicious main course of fresh salmon and salad. The meal was so satisfying and nourished us all for our upcoming glacier hike following lunch.
The Sólheimajökull Glacier is where our glacier tour took place. The tour starts with an introduction to the equipment and safety rules needed to explore the glacier, followed by a short walk across the pitch black volcanic ash and sands towards Sólheimajökull. Walking through the valley, that the glacier filled only a few years ago, our glacier guide, Elsa (I wish I wish making this up) points out to us how the glacier is retreating at an alarming rate, almost right before our very eyes.
At the glacier edge, we lace up our crampons and follow our guide, Elsa, up the glacier, up small streams of cold, glacier water, and sheets of blue and ashen ice. The hike overall took us roughly two hours to complete, and we were able to even take a drink from the cold, icy glacier’s water which was beyond awesome! We continued towards the top, where she explained the rapid melting of the glacier, with a visual cable now measuring a 13 feet melting of the glacier since last April.
We take some gorgeous individual and group photos before carefully walking down the icy glacier. This was such an unexpected surprise, as we didn’t really know what to expect from this hike, but I’m beyond happy for the crazy awesome experience!
We drove the 2.5 hours back up to Reykavik, where we had a quick 20 minutes to change and freshen up, before meeting the group in the lobby, to walk a couple blocks down by the harbor to Bryggjan Brugghús independent brewery. Here we enjoyed a group dinner of 1 free alcohol drink (I chose the Lager) and we all had the main course of fish and chips. The meal was delicious and we all had a blast catching up on what all everyone did that day (as some of us didn’t go on the south shore excursion) and telling funny story of the trip.
Andrea and I walked back around to our hotel, and then continued the walk around Tjorn lake as we quietly reminisce the amazing trip and enjoy the now growing Reykavik night life. We then return back to the hotel for a night of packing in preparation for the morning’s early flight back home.