Today was our most busy day. We woke up at 7:00a (3:00a back home) and after breakfast, we got ready and left the Air BNB at 9:30a to head south and drive the Southern coast of Iceland.
The day was in the 50s, with low wind but there was a thick mist all day, so we couldn’t see the top of most of the mountains we drove by. But luckily, no real rain. The first stop was Seljalandfoss waterfall, two hours south of Reykjavík. There were two parking lots for this waterfall, one up close with paid parking, or one a quarter mile away for free. As we were in no rush, we parked at the free lot and enjoyed the cute trail up to the falls. This lot also had a picture-perfect puffin statue we were able to get a picture with.
The waterfall drops 60 m (197 ft) and is part of the Seljalands River that has its origin in the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull. Visitors can walk behind the falls into a small cave. We, despite seeing everyone come back to the parking lot soaking wet, ventured up and behind the towering waterfall, enjoying every slippery step! We then walked to the left of the waterfall down a second path that followed a beautiful little stream, and we popped out to another waterfall! This one was tucked away behind the rocks and some brave souls took their shoes off and waded into the water to get closer for pictures. We just snapped our photos then made our way back to the bus.
The next waterfall, was 25 minutes away, called Skógafoss. Skógafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland, with a drop of 60 meters and a width of 25 meters, and you can walk right up to. Mom started crying when she saw this one, said it was so beautiful. We walked up and the falls were surrounded by lush, green green grass with woolly, white sheep grazing alongside the waterfall’s current. This waterfall is massive, and if you stand up close enough, you’ll be sprayed with the mist.
The coolest part of this waterfall is that there are 527 (yes, we counted) stair steps all the way to the very top of the falls. So, we huffed and puffed our way to the top where we were so glad that we went up because not only was the top of the falls incredible, but that there was not one, but two additional massive waterfalls after that. We hiked a large path alongside the top of the falls, in complete awe of what we were experiencing. It was absolutely incredible!
After Skógafoss, we ate a quick lunch in the car of sandwiches, apples, chips and cookies before heading off to our next destination – the Solheimasandur plane wreckage, 11 minutes away.
In 1973 a United States Navy DC plane ran out of fuel and crashed on the black beach at Sólheimasandur, in the South Coast of Iceland. Fortunately, everyone in that plane survived. Later it turned out that the pilot had simply switched over to the wrong fuel tank. The remains are still on the sand very close to the sea. The walk to the plane took us about 50 minutes each way, 4km total. The family was not impressed with this 2-mile walk one way to the plane but It was crazy cool to see the wreck where it actually happened, and not in a museum. You can climb all over the plane and there were a couple people there shooting footage with their drones. After some photos, we started the long trek back to the car. The craziest thing about this whole walk was that it was like walking on the moon. Black sand and rocks everywhere, and unless we were talking while walking closely together, the sound was deafening. There were a bunch other people walking the trail too but it was stark silent when walking. Such a crazy experience.
After the grueling walk, we drove 20 minutes down to the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. Reynisdrangar are basaltsea stacks situated under the mountain Reynisfjall near the village Vík í Mýrdal, southern Iceland which is framed by a black sand beach that was ranked in 1991 as one of the ten most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world.
It was still foggy out, which didn’t make for the best photos but we made due with what we had and walked onto the gorgeous black sand to see the spectacular waves crashing onto the shore. We stood on the basalt sea stacks and ran away from the ‘sneaker waves.’ (Dad got his shoes and pants wet, haha). The only thing that we didn’t see were the puffins flying overhead.
After the black sand beach, we drove around to the other side of the mountain to the city of Vik, 12 minutes away. There we ate dinner at Halldorskaffi, a local restaurant and combo gift shop and geology museum. We browsed through the free rock exhibit while we waited for our table. The meal was 10 out of 10 amazing! Dad and mom got cod, and Jay and I got lamb sandwiches which was just like a gyro but ten thousand times better than any gyro I’ve ever had (and that includes greece!). We were so full and thankful for the incredible local meal.
After dinner, we drove an hour and a half away to our new and modern hotel, Fosshotel Nupar. The drive was spectacular as we passed lava fields, seven big waterfalls, pastures and mossy terrain.
Our hotel is fabulous with a modular design but a glacier view to die for! This our only actual hotel we’ll be staying in, with mom and dad in one room and Jay and I in the other, as it is hard to find family-style hotel rooms with double beds in Iceland. The room is simple but had a full wall with a lava field and mountain bedside view! I wish we could stay here more nights.
Our shower situation will be interesting as it is just a curtain over the floor (nothing to keep the water contained on the floor).
Overall, an amazing day driving and exploring the south shore and looking forward to out next day driving the entire east coast.