Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is one of the most visited waterfalls on the south coast of Iceland. Seljalandsá originates in the volcano underneath the glacier of Eyjafjallajökill and flows down the mountain until it tumbles 60 meters off the edge of the cliff creating the absolutely beautiful waterfall. When coming from the west towards Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall can be clearly seen from a distance cascading off the foothills of the great mountain. This is the waterfall which you can walk behind, make a wish, meet an elf, get wet and get coffee and donuts afterwards, all in the space of half an hour.
The 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption stopped all air travel in Europe for a few days as the ash cloud drifted out over the Atlantic, the ash plume reaching a height of up to 10 km and the ash detected far south on the European mainland. Considering the many active volcanoes in Iceland the volcanic eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull have not been many, only five in the last 1100 years, in this case a moderate eruption but it did destroy on of the outlet glaciers and closed the Ring Road. Fortunately Seljalandsfoss Waterfall remained intact and it still is one of the most visited waterfalls in Iceland and the fact that you can walk behind the waterfall makes it a further attraction and a must stop on any day trip to the south shore.
The ice cap on Eyjafjallajökull makes it incredibly picturesque and whenever you are visiting Seljalandsfoss make sure you keep your eyes out for a good photo-stop of the volcano. Seljalandsfoss is also the destination where you might be able to get that unique photo of northern lights or the midnight sun through falling glacial water. However the real experience here is of course to feel, see and hear the endless flow of water coming rumbling off the cliff side. There is something absolutely magical about standing behind a waterfall looking out knowing that you are also standing in the bosom of a legendary volcano.
Also the little food truck which is usually standing in the parking lot next to the waterfall is a great one. They serve fresh donuts and muffins as well as homemade sandwiches, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and sodas. A lovely little family run spot right in front of the waterfall with a great view of the south western Icelandic saga-land.
One of the most picturesque waterfalls on the south coast of Iceland is Skógafoss Waterfall. Nestled in the south eastern foothills of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano not far from the glacier tongue of Sólheimajökull, an outlet glacier from Mýrdalsjökull glacier. The Waterfall cascades 60 m off the hillside and is around 30 m wide and you can walk all the way into the gorge where the amount of spray coming off the waterfall often creates perfect conditions for double rainbows.
The eruptions of Eyjafjallajokull volcano have not been many considering the many volcanoes in Iceland and by default the many volcanic eruptions that the country has, every 5 years on average. The 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption created an ash cloud whose ash plume spread far and wide and stopped all air travel in Europe as well as closing the Ring Road and leaving vast amounts of ash in the ice caps all around. Right next to it embedded in the glacier Mýrdalsjökull is the great Volcano Katla which erupts usually every 100 years and last erupted in 1918 and the eruption added 200 meters to the coastline in the area. During the eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull the Skógá River in which Skógafoss is situated has often filled up with ash a gravel from the eruption and during the 2010 eruption the river went completely black but managed to clear itself again.
Skógafoss is also situated next to Skógasafn Folk Museum which is one of the most interesting museums in Iceland giving a unique insight into the life of the Icelanders and the struggle to survive in past times. There is also a transport museum there and some turf houses.
Out of all waterfalls in Iceland Skógafoss has one of the more enduring and intriguing folktales. One of the first settlers here was Thrasi which owned a great treasure which he hid in the waterfall in a big old chest. Everyone knew this story and one day sometime in the past a young man guarding a flock of sheep next to the waterfall saw the chest in the water and reached out to yank it out but unfortunately only a metal ring was left in his hand. And among many treasures of the past, this particular ring can be found in the Folk Museum at Skógar.
Skógafoss Waterfall has also entered popular culture since legend has that pop star Justin Bieber almost drowned here during an extremely unpopular video shoot where he managed to break every other safety rule that guides strive hard to communicate to travelers, caused an overflow of tourists in sensitive areas and topped it all of by having dancers dance on top of protected vegetation. Well done Justin Bieber!
Whether you are travelling here during summer or winter the waterfall is a great attraction. Summer is green and lush and the midnight sun lights beautifully the glistening flow of water and in winter ice sculptures can often be seen within the sides of the gorge and there are quite a few pictures of the northern lights doing their magic above Skógafoss Waterfall.
Vík í Mýrdal is the southernmost village in Iceland right next to the great Mount Katla Volcano and on one of the longest black beaches in the world. To the north lies Mýrdalsjökull Glacier and to the south there is the open ocean stretching ten thousand miles all the way to Antarctica. Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is just on the other side of Mount Reynisfjall and Reynisdrangar rock formations can be seen rising from the sea just off the coastline. Vík is one of the main stops of the ring road on the south coast of Iceland and if you are heading further east to the glacier lagoon then the Ice Wear complex has the last proper grocery store for the next two hundred miles.
The classic South Shore Tour usually goes all the way to Vík which is not just a great lunch stop but also has one of the best souvenir shops along the ring road and a really good collection of wool goods many of which are made in the area since Ice Wear is from right here. Vík is also the home of The Icelandic Lava Show where you can experience a recreation of a volcanic eruption as they heat lava up its liquid state at 1100°C and you get to hear it sizzle, see it flow and feel the intense heat in safe controlled surroundings. There is also a lovely church on a hill above the village where there is a beautiful view over the area and far out to sea.
Vík is the center of Katla UNESCO Geopark formed around the area affected most by the great volcano. During the 1918 eruption so much ash, gravel and lava was brought forth by the volcano that the coastline in the area moved on average around 200 meters out. Eruptions in the past have greatly affected the area and it is evident from the rugged peaks and amount of black sand that this is a place very much at the mercy of the elements. The coastline goes through daily changes as the sand moves and the whole area is famous for the irregular sneaker waves which have caused deaths as people get snatched up and pulled out to sea. But for those who wish to brave nature then this is also a popular spot for paragliding and there is a little glider port on top of Mount Reynisfjall.
Whether you are spending the day doing The Golden Circle, The South Shore or The Glacier Lagoon, Vík is the largest settlement in a scarcely populated area but offers some options for lunch, dinner and accommodation including Hotel Kría and The Icelandair Hotel Vík and there are quite a few good spots for northern lights in winter and during the summer months puffins and full-mars nest in the seaside cliffs.
Reykjavík is the capital of Iceland, the world´s northernmost capital and around two-thirds of the total population of the country live in and around the city. The oldest archeological remains of a permanent settlement in Iceland are right in the city center dating back to 874 and believed to be that of Ingólfur Arnarson the founder of Reykjavík according to the sagas. Reykjavík really just became a city during the 20th century. In 1900 only about 6000 people were living in reykjavík at the time. During WW2 the city grew significantly and during the war the allied forces built many roads as well as the domestic airport, and the international airport, as well as setting up their headquarters and army barracks. The second half of the 20th century was pretty quiet but included highlights such as the world championship in chess in 1972 when Bobby Fischer became world champion. In 1986 the world cast its eye towards Iceland when then USA President Ronald Reagan and USSR General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev met for a summit in Reykjavik which is considered an important stepping stone towards the end of the cold war and disarmament. But apart from WW2 Reykjavik has been a pretty cool little place, a breeding ground for artists and infamous for a colourful nightlife.
Reykjavik City has become a hip destination lately for people seeking northern lights, music festivals and the new Icelandic fusion cuisine. A number of amazing day tours can be taken from the city that are back before happy hour and give you plenty of time to relax in one of the geothermal swimming pools and check out what is going on at the Harpa Concert Hall. In summertime the Secret Solstice music festival is a major event, so is Culture Night and Gay Pride weekend. In winter there are the Iceland Airwaves and Sonar music festivals both drawing international crowds. Although Reykjavik is the northernmost capital in the world, thanks to the hot springs and geothermal heat it quite warm on the inside and 90% of all homes in Iceland are geothermally heated. So, only green energy for this capital city on the shores of Faxaflói (Smoky Bay) guarded by the great Mount Esja.
There are many ways to experience Reykjavik. Whether you go by foot or get someone to give you a little road trip around the city make sure you get in a few highlights. Perlan observation deck, Hallgrimskirkja lutheran church, Harpa Concert Hall, City Hall and The Pond (Tjörnin) are all well worth checking out. Make sure you find out where there is free entry and were you need to pay. Getting a private driver to take you around is really the best way to get everything in make sure you get a proper introduction.
The South Shore Adventure is a unique day tour taking you around active volcanoes, in sight of massive glaciers, to beautiful waterfalls and through black sands. Whether bathed in the warmth of the midnight sun or huddling underneath northern lights gliding across the sky, the dark sandscape and rugged edges of a land forged by volcanic activity is sure to cause awe and inspiration. Visiting Seljalandsfoss waterfall and Skógafoss waterfall in the foothills of the great and infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano and moving east through the volcanic sands that dominate large portions of the South Coast of Iceland. The tour goes along the Ring Road next to Mýrdalsjökull glacier and on clear days it is possible to see the ice caps and outlet glaciers of both Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. The tour goes as far east as the scenic village of Vík with its black sand beach and busy bird cliffs. Reynisfjara beach is the southernmost tip of Iceland and going straight out from there the next solid ground you hit is Antarctica around ten thousand miles to the south. There are also the rock formations of Reynisdrangar rising from the sea and basalt columns in the hillside next to the beach providing an amazing background often graced by the presence of puffins in summertime.
The eruptions of volcanoes in Iceland are many but the eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull only five in last 1100 years, however, the last one sure made big headlines and in some ways entered Iceland into the consciousness of the world. The great volcano rises up to about 5400 feet and can be seen from afar. During the eruption in 2010 a part of the ice cap melted and a glacier tongue on the north side disappeared, the river Krossá flooded and took out a part of the ring road for a while. Apart from the two waterfalls in the foothills of the volcano there are also quite a few scenic spots around including a troll bunny and a fence covered in women's underwear.
Seljalandsá flows directly from Eyjafjallajökull and drops almost 200 feet where it forms Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Due to the forward leaning edge there is a shallow cave in the hillside which makes it possible to walk behind the waterfall and as the story goes there you can make a wish and meet an elf. During summer you can catch the evening sun shining through the water and legend has it that it is then and there that you can find the gates to the great halls of the elves hidden inside the volcano.
One of the most picturesque waterfalls in Iceland is Skógafoss in Skógá river 80 feet wide and almost 200 feet high cascading into a beautiful gorge which you can walk straight into next to Skógaá river. This place has a legend attached to it saying that one “Thrasi” hid a chest filled with a great treasure behind the waterfall. As opposed to other legends of the same nature in Iceland this one has a possible proof kept in the wonderful Skógar Museum nearby, namely a metal ring said to be from the treasure chest. In recent years Skógafoss has also entered popular culture when pop star Justin Bieber fell in and almost drowned the story goes, but fortunately he was saved by his bodyguard.
Reynisfjara Black Beach
Most of Iceland´s southern coastline is in fact black volcanic sand and there are quite a few scenic spots but to pick one that truly stands out Reynisfjara, close to Vík í Mýrdal, would be the one. The everchanging black sand mixed with ash and pebbles brought out by eruptions in the past washed and polished back and forth by the currents and waves of the North Atlantic. The basalt columns on the beach once believed to be sculptures made by giants and the rock formations rising just off the beach believed to be a troll dragging a ship to shore that got caught in the sun and it all turned to stone. To the west there is a view of Dyrhólaey, the great Island of Doors, with a natural arc going through the sea cliffs.
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