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.
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.
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.
The Reykjavik Harbour Area is very much at the heart of the city and indeed the oldest archeological remains of a farm in Iceland have been found right between the harbour and Tjörnin (The Pond). You could say that the city more or less grew from the harbour here where the first viking ships landed over 1100 years ago. For years the area served freight ships and fishing boats alike. This is also where both Winston Churchill and the first Beatles album came ashore.
In recent years the area has undergone a major facelift and what used to be the old shipyard and fishermen´s storage is now home to hipster cafés and fusion restaurants, designer shops and software companies. Even the shipyards offices and working area have been turned into an Icelandair hotel The Marina.
Reykjavík Harbour is a stone´s throw from the main shopping streets and pretty much qualifies as the city centre. Numerous tours can be pre-booked from there, and few classic day tours can be taken from here, whether you want to do The Golden Circle or visit The Blue Lagoon, it can be easily arranged from this location. Reykjavík Harbour is only 45 minutes from the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa and roughly the same distance from Thingvellir National Park and Rift Valley the start of the Golden Circle that also includes Gullfoss Waterfall and the geothermal area at Geysir. But the area around the harbour is also a great place to start with. Whale watching tours leave from here throughout the year and Harpa Concert Hall is right on the edge of the water. Some of the best bars and restaurants in the downtown area are also situated around here and it is well worth going on Tripadvisor just to see what´s going on since Iceland and Reykjavík in particular are right in the midst of a culinary revolution. Check out some of the seafood available as well as the local organic lamb, or find a seedy dive to disappear into for a few hours and see if the Northern Lights grace you with their presence when you stumble back out. Remember also that geothermal heat and hot springs are plentiful in Iceland, so every swimming pool in Reykjavík is in fact geothermal, they are well appreciated by the locals and can be recommended for their cleanliness, jacuzzis and steam baths.
It is widely accepted that Reykjavík has morphed from being basically a fishing village on the cold shores of the North Atlantic into being a modern city and a hot destination offering its own slightly eccentric but cosmopolitan charm at the same time.
Port of Reykjavík receives a growing number of cruise ships every year as well as just getting more popular in general. So, whether you are stopping by for a day, doing a 24 hour layover or spending more time, it is a smart idea to check your interests and options and book ahead.
When visiting Iceland on a Cruise Ship it is important to make the most of the time you choose to spend on land and Private Driver is the way to go for a comfortable day tour for a small group in a private vehicle. We pick up at the ship and bring you back on time and make the tour fit your needs and preferences as much as possible within the itinerary given.
The South Shore Adventure takes us to Eyjafjallajökull volcano, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Skógafoss Waterfall, Reynisfjara Black Beach and Vík í Mýrdal. This is truly a tour taking you to a place at the mercy of the elements. A landscape carved out by glaciers and volcanic eruptions and beaten upon by the mad storms of the North Atlantic. A part of the country sure to conjure images from sci-fi films, viking sagas and Lord-of-the-Ringy lore.
The eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull have been few and far between but the one in 2010 stopped all air travel in Europe for some days as the ash plume drifted out into the atmosphere and spread over a vast area. There are of course many volcanoes in Iceland and just a little further east from Eyjafjallajökull close to Vík is Katla, another behemoth of a volcano whose eruptions in the past have changed the southern coastline of Iceland. When visiting Seljalandsfoss Waterfall we drive the ring road all the way to the foothills of Eyjafjallajökull where you can walk behind the waterfall, make a wish and meet an elf, or so the story goes. Another beautiful waterfall is just a little further along the ring road still on the outskirts of the great volcano, situated in the Skógá river is the very picturesque Skógafoss majestically tumbling into a gorge where, because of the amount of spray, rainbows can often be seen on sunny days. Reynisfjara Black Beach where basalt columns rise from the shore where ash, sand and pebbles from eruptions in the past all roll together. On clear days the ice caps of Mýrdalsjökull Glacier, in which Katla is embedded, and Eyjafjallajökull, can be clearly seen as the rise up to over 4000 feet, and some of the outlet glaciers and glacier tongues reach towards the lowlands. Vík í Mýrdal is the southernmost village in Iceland and going straight south from there there are around 10.000 miles of open ocean all the way to Antarctica. At the tip of reynisfjall mountain which lies between Black Beach and Vík are some rock formations rising from the surf and legend has it that it is a troll dragging a ship to shore that got caught in the sun and turned to stone.
This area is fascinating any time of year whether it is summertime showered in the midnight sun or winter wonderland waiting for northern lights to appear, it is a different world indeed.
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