Water Everywhere – My Iceland Weekend: Day 2

‘Water Everywhere’ or ‘Falls and Beaches’ – both could have been titles of this blog entry. However, falls carry water and beaches are usually separating land from water, and then there was this additional water in the air… so it became ‘Water Everywhere’.
Today I was going to see a couple of the highlights of the south coast of Iceland: Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Vik, and the DC3 plane wreck were on my list. But I also visited Reynisfjara Beach and the Dyrhólaey Lighthouse – or so I planned.

A beautiful morning

On this Saturday morning the sun was shining, the wind calmed down, and the temperatures offered an enjoyable day outside – maybe in Southern California.
Instead, here in South-Iceland, thick clouds were covering the sky, discharging heavy rain from time to time producing waterfalls out of nowhere. Nevertheless, also the sun found its way through the clouds from time to time, producing nice light-streaks. And as you might imagine, from a photographical point the sky looked very dramatic and hence it looked very photogenic.
I spent my first breakfast at the Hotel Fljótshlíð almost alone the that breakfast area. Actually, it looked a little like an event hall where bands would play in the evenings. Well, the hotel might be located a little too remote for that. The breakfast was standard Scandinavian in my experience. Besides the items of a normal continental European breakfast you also got fish, fresh butter milk, and something which tasted a little like curd with fruits. And I completely missed to take a photo of its name to look it up later.
Although the hotel did not offer cappuccino or cafe latte, the filtered coffee was very good and I completely enjoyed it together with the view on the Eyjafjallarjökull – or at least its surrounding mountains.
The breakfast room
The breakfast room at my Hotel – including a view to the Eyjafjallarjökull

Quite some water on Gluggafoss

Now it was time to hit the road. My first stop was the Gluggafoss waterfall. Only about 10min away from my hotel, it proved to be a very nice little fall. The upper fall even has something what you might call windows. Water falls there through natural tubes.

Gluggafoss

Gluggafoss

I spent about an hour, taking pictures of the landscape and looking for new spots before the next visitors arrived. It was a pair from Singapore – also hunting for the ultimate landscape photo.
Luckily, the masses of tourists on highway 1 seem to avoid this fall. I guess that this is most likely due to the fact, that the direct connection from Gluggafoss to the next attraction leads along route 250 which is a gravel road.
However, I would encounter those masses of tourists a little later at my next attraction.

Gravel Roads

Seljalandsfoss was my next destination and I decided to try the 250 gravel road. Being warned about the bad conditions of those roads after winter, I was surprised that it was almost as comfortable to ride along as on paved roads – only noisier, of course. And it also gets trickier if you need to leave the grooves in the road. I would encounter other types of gravel roads during the next days, anyway.

Gravel roads - an Iceland Weekend
On route 250 to my next destination – a scent of adventure

Driving on gravel roads has a tiny scent of adventure to me. It reminds me of the many miles I drove on such roads in the South-Western States (US) or Texas.  And the cloudy sky added quite a bit to the drama in that scene. Time for a quick shot of my ride.

Quite some water at Seljalandsfoss

Only about 20 min later I arrived at Seljalandsfoss. The parking area was already quite crowded. And you need to pay a daily fee for leaving your car there (700kr – about $7/€6).

Don’t fail to obtain a parking ticket in all of your excitement about the fall. A French family parking their rental next to mine got fined for missing to pay.

As a reminder, it was March when I was at Seljalandfoss. And it had been cold, really cold a couple of weeks before and there had also been quite some snow. Now, it was relatively warm (8°C) but not all ice (condensed snow and frozen spray from the fall) had melted away. That meant, the paths for reaching the famous cave behind the Seljalandsfoss was not accessible.

Path not accessible
Paths to the cave behind the Seljalandsfoss were not accessible

Seljalandsfoss

Farmhouse - Golden Circle

From the Seljalandsfoss a walking path leads to two other little waterfalls. The second one is hidden in a cave of its own. With the amount of water on the fall and the temperature of the water itself (besides that there are sharp rocks), you need to have water tight shoes to get in there – or simply risking numb feet which is also totally worth the visit.

Waterfall in Cave - Water everywhere
Waterfall in a cave – with wind, spray, rain you are located in a cold shower

On my way back to the car, I found many more tourist at the Seljalandsfoss than only 30 minutes ago. If you have ever encountered a logistics operation for a landfall of cruise ship tourists – this felt very similar.

So many tourists

Well, it dawned to me that I would meet many more of those nature enthusiasts at my next destination: Skógafoss.

Too much water at Skógafoss

Prepared to not find a parking space at Skógafoss, I was able to get one almost at the fall. However, the significant number of buses I passed foreboded the amount of tourists I was going to meet.

Skógafoss

I had in mind to take a selfie with my DSLR. You know, those typical ones: Person in bright-colored jacket which nobody can recognize anyway in front of a de-saturated waterfall. For this purpose I had brought a yellow rain jacket.  However, in short, the weather did not cooperate.

It was raining. Ok, next to an enormous waterfall that is kind of dispensable fact, since there is always spray and you always get wet.
And, by the way, that spray produces nice rainbows – if there is some sun.

Well, there was that little wind, too. Just enough to transport the spray quite some distance and make the rain fall almost horizontally. The group of Chinese photographers trying (or not trying) to keep their gear dry suddenly became a welcoming addition to my photos as shown above. I failed to keep my gear dry, of course (thank you weather sealing!).

And then, there are those stairs to the right of the fall leading to the top of a lava field and, hence, the top of the fall. Height difference a little less than 100m (the fall’s height is 60m). I decided to try to see, what is up there since I simply could not remember having seen any photos from there. So I queued in and an eternity later I reached a crowded platform on which people were pushing each other while trying to get the perfect shot or selfie.

I continued a little path along the river and got a few shots. Nothing spectacular, but enough to get an impression and plan a next visit.

Skógafoss
Skógafoss seen from the observation deck

I decided that it is time to grab something to eat somewhere – most likely at the next supermarket.

Shopping in Vik

Vik is a small village in the south of Iceland. I must admit that I have not read much about its history. Mainly, I was interested in finding a supermarket. To my surprise, it had a decent sized Kronan market at its main street. I even got hair styling product which I forgot to pack. Actually, later I found them in my bag in the hotel. I just had forgotten where I put them. Furthermore, it offered a large selection of fresh sandwiches – perfect for a quick lunch break. And in addition you could also get instant noodles like Ramen and Pho from the typical Chinese and Japanese instant noodle brands… Perfect, for resupplying Chinese travelers. Ehm, I bought some, too.

Church in Vik

On a hill overlooking the village you find the church of Vik. From there you have a beautiful view over to Reynisfjara beach. However, it was windy and rainy when I parked my car up there. So I did not stay very long and tried my luck on the other side of Reynisfjara beach. But if you happen to be there in better weather conditions, try to walk to a spot uphill where you have the church in front of the Reynisfjara Beach panorama.

Reynisfjara Beach
Reynisfjara Beach seen from Vik

Btw., the landscape around Vik is very hilly compared to the coastline further west where I was coming from today. The roads are winding along the sometimes quite steep slopes. The setting has a little feeling of Cornwall or the Bretagne. However, the vegetation and colours are obviously completely different.

Somewhere near Vik
Somewhere near Vik on my way to Reynisfjara and Kirkjufjara Beaches

Reynisfjara Beach or water in my boots

A few kilometers west of Vik a small road leads from the highway 1 to Reynisfjara Beach also known as black sand beach. I had not yet seen Diamond beach and so I was extremely impressed by that black beach (although it was raining and windy…). However, sand was not real sand but more small black round pebbles.

The shape of the different rocks is incredible. Besides the round-shaped pebbles on the beach you find those hexagonal shaped ones and those typical sharp edged lava ones. Especially, with those hexagonal ones it reminds me of Giants Causeway in Ireland and Staffa in Scotland. But there are also some of those close to where I live – we had volcanoes here, as well.

When I arrived at the beach, it was very crowded – what did I expect. But due to the tide, water was coming in. So more and more tourists left the interesting spots. Nevertheless, I was more and more challenged to find secure positions for my tripod and to keep my feed dry. At the end, a wave went a little too far. Water and sand made it into my waterproof boots from above and my socks got soaked wet.

Reynisfjara Beach

Reynisfjara Beach

Iceland 2018 Iceland 2018

Kirkjufjara Beach

Kirkjufjara Beach and Reynisfjara Beach are only separated by a small channel of water. But it takes some time to get from one place to the other by car…

The parking spot for Kirkjufjara is on top of a cliff. Somehow, you can also access the beach. But I did not find out how – since it started to rain again. So I just walked along several paths along the cliffs and admired the landscape, listened to the sound of the birds and the waves breaking. Sometimes you are so close to the edge of the cliff that spray from the breaking waves makes it way complete up to top and gets you wet.

Kirkjufjara Beach

Iceland 2018

On 500px I had seen a couple of beautiful photos of Dyrhólaey Lighthouse. So I tried to get there to. I made it up to the sign, telling me that this road is only for high clearance vehicles. Well, I have an SUV, do I not? A few hundred meters further up I saw another car having serious problems with potholes. So I decided to turn around and get to my final destination of that day: The DC3 plane wreck at Solheimasandur.

The DC3 Plan Wreck

Conveniently located at highway 1 you hardly cannot miss the parking place. But there is no sign telling you anything about the wreck, you just have to know that this is the right spot. But 4G cell phone connection makes google maps work like a charm while you are listening to your favorite songs…

From the parking spot you need to walk about 3.5km to the wreck. You walk on sand and rubble. That means, sturdy shoes/boots are mandatory for avoiding injuries. Google says that the average person makes the way to the plane in about one hour. I met a French couple and they showed 45min on their Garmin watch. I made it in 40 with photo-pack and tripod… but it still felt like forever.

In 1973, the DC3 crashed  emergency landed at the beach after problems with fuel. I read somewhere that the pilot swapped to an already empty fuel tank and that another tank still contained enough fuel to reach Keflavik….

Anyway, nobody died and, since it was too expensive that time to recover the whole plane, the aluminium hull was left behind. And it is still sitting there today, visited by many tourists every day.

And I was lucky. For a few minutes the sun almost made it through the clouds. That created even more drama and apocalyptic colours. A perfect ending for my day!

DC3 plane wreck
The wreck of the DC3 which crashed at Solheimasandur in 1973

DC3 plane wreck


Links

Day 1 of my weekend

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