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Published: November 21st 2008
Morning drive from Hella to the Skaftafell Region to visit Seljalandsfoss, our first waterfall of the day. Very fun, if also very wet, as it was possible to walk behind the waterfall although most of us spent the majority of the time trying to protect our camaras than actually appreciating the view! The sun decided to come out for us briefly though did very little to dry us - I am now resigned to spending the whole time here in my very unattracive raincoat!
Next onto Skogafoss waterfall which I didn't have the energy to run up to the top of although my mother put me to shame by managing it! Bizarrely Skogafoss used to be part of the coastline of Iceland but is now a distance of 5km from the new coastline. According to legend, the first Viking settler in the area, Þrasi Þórólfsson, buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall but I've no idea how anyone would ever go about trying to get behind the waterfall!
Then the short drive to the Skogar Folk Muesum, a reconstucted traditional Icelandic village. Most of the buildings are originals and have been brought from various places in West
Skaftafellssysla and Rangarvallasysla and reconstructed on the site. It seems incredible anyone used to live in the houses - let alone the fact that many people did so as recently as a hundred years ago.
Besides being tiny (literally just 'hobbit houses'!), the smell of the peat roofs and fires must have been unbearable. At 5' 4" I never normally have to worry about ducking but even I was bent almost double! The most recent additions to the museum, the church and the schoolhouse, were the best built actually made of wood and high enough for normal sized people to walk in.
The curator of the museum decided to start a sing-along in the church on the organ oblviious to the fact that no-one spoke any Icelandic nor could even begin to decipher the hymns!
Next on to the village of Vik just in time for the weather to change its mind and pelt us with rain (honestly it's worse than England - and that's saying something!) We went onto the strange black sand beach where we were promised hundreds of puffins nested on the cliffs but no such luck today - probably hiding from the weather.
A fairly long afternoon drive across the 'Black Desert', a lava field created by an eruption in 1783-4, which is now carpeted in moss before arriving at the beautiful gorge of Fjadrargljufur canyon (called the Grand Canyon of Iceland), carved out by water since the ice age ended in Iceland some 10,000 years ago. Absolutely stunning views of the canyon with sapphire waters at the bottom of the gorge.
There also several very narrow cliff paths on which you could go out into almost the middle of the gorge for a better view although with the wind and rain only a few of did so! Dying from falling down an Icelandic gorge is such a silly thing to have on your death certificate!
We finished the day with a drive across Skeidararsandur, the great sandy plain (which was flooded in 1996 by glacier meltwater from a volcanic eruption under Glacier Vatnajokull, Europe’s greatest glacier) before arriving at the hostel for our overnight stay.
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