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Published: July 11th 2018
We left Reykjavik in our Toyota Rav IV after filling up with Diesel at the nearby N1 gas station. Navigating the numerous roundabouts to leave the city wasn’t too difficult and we were soon on the open highway on a cool, windy and drizzly day.
We chose to circle the country heading east first, along the south side of the island with the coast more or less on our right. In this direction, we found ourselves spotting waterfalls regularly, crashing down off of the hills and cliffs that were constantly along our left side. Our first stop after 90 minutes or so was Seljandfoss
waterfall. Clearly visible from the highway, this group of 3 waterfalls was quite impressive.
All of the tourist sites or points of interest are signed, but only small signs located at the very entrance to a road-side parking lot. This lot was very busy with cars and tour buses and hordes of tourists. There is a pay machine that takes credit cards with a charge of 700 isk for the day But toilets were free. Generally, if the parking is free, the toilets are not. The main waterfall is very high and quite spectacular! There
is a path and steps to walk right around it but good waterproof rain gear is absolutely necessary as well as very good footware as it can be quite slippery! Falling to your death can really ruin an otherwise great vacation, for you and the other tourists nearby.
Luckily we were prepared for this wet experience and I even managed to get a few photos from behind the falls without soaking my camera equipment too badly. From the front, I used my tripod for most shots and my 24-105 zoom but I also had my 12-24 and 150-500 lenses along for other scenery and wildlife. If you have room in your luggage and want some really good shots, definitely bring your tripod.
A short hike away from the crowds brings you to two other waterfalls with a lot fewer people around. the furthest falls are half hidden through a narrow passageway, parting the cliff face in a tall vertical crack. The falls are visible from the outside but a few adventurous types followed the path through and along the falls to then climb a cliff path all the way to the top of the cliffs above the falls.
leaving Seljandfoss falls we backtracked and ended up having to google map to search for the hot springs that we missed seeing along the highway. Luckily I had set up a $12 a day international plan with Telus for my phone before leaving home so we google mapped to get our bearings without worrying about outrageous cellular charges. Seljavallalaug
swimming pool ended up being unsigned and well off the highway on a little dirt road through some farm land. The turn is 3.3 km west of the Heimemenn Mini Market on Rauferfell 242 road then follow the sign to Seljavalla. We eventually stopped at a small rough parking area and started to follow the occasional hiker out across the valley, assuming they were also going to Seljavallalaug. It was rough, rocky ground and some streams to cross, hills and boulders to climb, but we eventually found the pool. It‘s a very rough, unattended natural hot springs, flowing constantly into and out of a large and very old cement basin. There is an old building with three rooms used as change rooms. Rough, dirty, and with some equally dirty wooden slats on the floor, this is quite rustic and left
to nature. The water is very warm, about half the 60 foot length is only 4 feet deep, then VERY deep towards the far end where the hot water enters. There is a lot of mossy particles and debris in the water, so it’s not for everyone, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.
We drove back towards Seljandfoss falls, stopping on a pullout on the right side of the highway with spectacular views of the falls and enjoyed our picnic lunch. Although we were pleased to find that groceries in the large stores were mostly priced similar to Canada, restaurant prices were generally outrageously expensive.
We drove on, through rainy, windy roads alongside green, brown or black devestated lava fields and then alongside huge, lush, green and rocky cliffs with various sizes of waterfalls constantly being spotted. We reached Skogafoss
falls during a break in the weather and parked, for free this time, in a very large lot with pay toilets (200 isk).
Similar to the parking area at Seljandfoss, there was a souvenir stand and snack bar with hot coffee available. Skogafoss falls are quite impressive, with the greatest volume of water of all the Iceland falls
(possibly, depending on which publication you read). We started out climbing the 527 steps winding up the steep mountainside to see the falls from the top. It was interesting, and worth the climb, but not nearly as photo worthy as the view from the bottom. The typical front view of the falls makes for beautiful photos but you can also walk in along the side of the falls around a huge open basin area. Unfortunately the volume of water spray soaking me and my camera equipment made it nearly impossible to get any shots worth keeping.
We drove on from here with cliffs and waterfalls all the way on our left with various lava fields on our right until we reached Dyrholaey
, a small peninsula along the south coast, near the village of Vik. The shoreline hillside is made up of interesting rock formations, a black sand beach and Puffins nesting on the cliffs.
The day had been getting progressively colder, windier and drizzly so Puffin photos were challenging; particularly so because the Puffins were mostly hiding in crevices in the cliffs but I did manage to get a few shots with my 500mm lens and using
Driving on from here we were in the middle of lava fields on both sides of the road for the next 62 km! The feeling of being on another planet was never stronger, with bumpy fields of black, or green or brown moss, surrounding us to the horizon.
We finally reached our hotel, Klausturhof Guesthouse
, after a long day on the road. The setting was stunning, up against a green hillside with a beautiful waterfall thundering down behind us. We checked in and SQUEEZED into our tiny, hostel-like room with barely enough room to hold two beds between the walls and the bathroom down the hallway. All this for only $295 CAD! This will be our least expensive accomodation on this trip; hotels are NOT cheap in Iceland. We ended the day with an in-room wine and cheese picnic and some planning for the next day.
Remember to scroll down further for the rest of the photos.
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