Let’s start with the south coast. We drove from Skaftafell to Hella and had to start out very early because we wanted to reach Hella around 12pm, so that we would have time to drive into Landmannalaugur in the afternoon.
The road along the south coast is a beautiful drive that would easily fill an entire day if only you had the time. We didn’t so the drive was given 5h seperated into 3h driving time and 2h of picture taking and general “view enjoying”. Just to be safe we also left an hour earlier.
There were two planned stops on the trip, one was Skógafoss, another big waterfall and the other was a little less well defined: “black beach with basaltic columns somewhere around Vík”. This was also our first planned stop, even though we did make several shorter stops along the way to enjoy the scenery and minor detours to explore the inviting green valleys opening up along our way.
We got lucky, after reaching Vík, we could already see from road 1 that there was no sand beach anywhere close. This is because, like most other cities in Iceland, Vík consists of roughly 20 spaced out houses. You could easily see through them to the sea. Behind Vík, there’s a small mountain, which the road crosses and it was decided that the next street leading to the sea would be used to go looking for said beach. We got lucky on the first try, as indicated by a number of tourist buses and rental cars already parking where we wanted to go.
Foolish Brave as we are, we decided not to stop where everybody else was stopping but to follow the track along the beach. 20 seconds later, we’d successfully gotten stuck in the sand. After some hard work we successfully reversed and managed to reach the same parking place as everybody else. As it turns out the parking spot is there for a reason. One can actually already see the basaltic columns from the parking lot and guess at the cave which is hiding behind it. This cave was completely framed by basaltic columns and was used as a secret thingstead, a place where the law-making assembly of local people would meet to discuss and debate the issues at hand. The place was perfect as the sea would swallow all the noises of their discussion, the light in the cave would only shine out onto the sea and last, but not least, they had a terrific view in all directions.
We spent a good hour there, just enjoying and exploring this black beach before carrying on towards Skógafoss. Skógafoss is conveniently located on the road 1 and can easily be visited by car. It is a large and deep waterfall and therefore nice to look at. Another thing that I found very fascinating about Skógafoss is that the cliff from which the waterfall falls used to be part of the coastline, however with the sea receding, it has now become a “normal” waterfall. The sea is currently 5km from Skógafoss. The width and depth of the waterfall create constant mist in which the sun breaks and creates multiple beautiful rain bows. I have no seen and been to where a rainbow ends… However,much to my disappointment, there was no pot of gold to be seen anywhere.
Our way from there led further west, passing Eyjafjallajökull, Katla and Hekla some of the most prominent volcanoes of Iceland before reaching Hella on time. There we were greeted by the very lovely Nonni, who allowed us to check into our rooms even though it was still very early.
We left Hella shortly thereafter to set out on another great adventure, but this will be the story of another post.