Iceland - Part 3

Friday, April 1, 2016

Here comes the final part.... the Golden Circle. And it really deserves its name, the South-West part of Iceland is jammed packed with sights to see. Every 20 minutes there's something you wouldn't want to miss, and that doesn't count the beauty of the road itself! Have a look for yourself...

Route 1 - Jökulsárlón

Coming from the North we decided to 'skip' the east side of the island. *Gasp* I know I know skipping a whole quarter of a tiny island seems a bit harsh.... but to be honest there isn't that much to see! And we were really pushed for time. If you are there for around 10 days I would say to do it, but if not, just clock in 100km at night and wake up in the Golden Circle! The particularity of this part of Iceland is that it is a lot more mountainous and surrounded by a huge glacier. Which makes stumbling upon icebergs just making there way out to sea quite usual. Like what?!

Jökulsárlón

This picture, believe it or not, was basically taken out of the dashboard of the car. That's how close you can get to them from the road!



Oh yeah, that's me holding an Iceberg, kinda, no biggie. The icebergs are located in a lagoon called Jökulsárlón and depending on your luck, they will be close to the road (as in alsmot out to sea) or far up in the lagoon. If they are far up, you can take a tour boat which will bring you close to them. There is also luck needed for you to see turquoise ones. They will only be this color if they have just recently turned upside down and haven't been exposed to the elements for very long. In any case, its well worth a visit, and its just off route 1.

If you cary on past the glaciers you will quickly arrive in Vik. This is a biggish town, with a great hostel. It has black sand beaches, shops and a couple restaurants! Pretty much a metropolis for Iceland. However, it also comes with tour buses. Which can be less plesant.


Vik
We stayed the night in Vik and left ridiculously early in order to try and catch the northern lights. The KP index was good and we finally had some clear skies. We drove away from town and pulled over on the side of the roadto wait.


And it payed off! It only lasted a couple of minutes but it was unlike anything I have ever seen. I always thought the brightness of them were a photographer's ruse, and that you couldn't see them so clearly in real life. I was so very wrong. It is even brighter in person, and so beautiful. 

The moment quickly passed as clouds rolled back in, so we made our way to Skogafoss where we wanted to start our hike. 


Skógafoss
Skógafoss is a great waterfall. It is the most textbook waterfall I've seen in Iceland. It's grand and high and straight and noisy. And because it's Iceland, you'll occasionally get a rainbow thrown in there. We were in the parking so early that we were able to see it before anyone else got here, and we could start our hike before the busses rolled in. 

The hike is called "Fimmvörðuháls" and goes from Skogafoss to Thorsmork. On a good day it is said to be an easy hike, but because the weather in constantly changing it can be very challenging. The hike can be a three day affair, going behing Skogafoss, across the glacier, up to a volcano (the one that errupted a couple of years ago and grounded all the planes) and back down to the valley of Gods. We didn't have the time to do all three days, so settled for the 1st day itinerary, which brings you behind the waterfall. 

It is a beautiful route, you get to see a total of 23 waterfalls along a meandering cliff top path.



I can say that this hike has claimed the 1st place in all of my hiking experiences so far! 
A couple minutes after this photo was taken the weather changed for the worst. It started to snow. Legit snow. We decided not to go to the foot of the glacier and make our way back to the warm car instead.

Since it was only the beggining of the afternoon we continued on route 1 to see Seljalandsfoss, another majestic waterfall. This is one of the most famous Icelandic waterfalls and with reason.

Seljalandsfoss

You can walk behind (and be sprayed by) the waterfall which is a great experience. If you continue on the path that leads you to the waterfall on your left, you will find another secret waterfall. You have to walk through a little river on stepping stones, but your wet feet will be worth it.


A secret waterfall in a cave!

To finish off this day which has emotion filled, we went to a hot pool. Again, one of the famous hot baths if you have been looking up Iceland on Instagram. It was suprisingly empty, and is set in between grand mountains.

Seljavallalaug

Look at how small the people are in this picture... it will give you an idea of the scale!
Seljavallalaug

And that was it for the day! All pictures by Lukas Fieber :)

Here's a summary for those of you planning a trip:
Golden Circle musts:
  • Glacier lagoon
  • Godafoss
  • Hike behind Godafoss
  • Seljalandsfoss
  • Secret waterfall near Seljalandsfoss
  • Hot pool between Godafoss and Seljalandsfoss : Seljavallalaug

















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