Gulfoss - the rainbows that form there caught our eyes before the waterfall made its way. It is an extraordinary waterfall which is often compared to the Niagara Falls. Our lunch session happened just there in front of the waterfall, around 5pm since we lost track of time while exploring the same. We soon drove off after that, and were on our way to the camp site when at around 11pm in the night, while it was still sunlit we chanced upon Seljalandsfoss, the waterfall which is famous since people can go behind it and experience the setting sun.People generally chose the spot to propose to their loved ones; would be spouses. One such couple caught me off guard when they asked me to photoshoot for them while they were at it with a waterproof ring in hand!It’s again one of the prime waterfalls of Iceland which should not be missed, in all it's glory its just amazing.Our day soon ended, when we reached our campsite at Vik, where post setting up our camp we had some chat sessions with an Irish guy who had travelled 48 countries and apparently had caught malaria while in India. Post quite some knowledge sharing there, we were finally tired enough to sleep.
The fourth day began with an attempt to reach Svartifoss. It was a long trek from our camping ground on a thin manmade path through dense shrubs and beautiful wild flowers. Although we could not finally reach Svartifoss due to lack of time the attempt was worth remembering. From here we moved to another famous natural marvel of Iceland, the glacial lagoon Jokursarlon in southeast Iceland, on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. This lake had icebergs some of which are 1000 years old. A lot of aquatic and avian fauna was also visible including Arctic Terns and Seals. We had also planned for a tour on an amphibian boat along the lake but was there were paucity of tickets. The color of the icebergs were clear blue, it is here that I finally understood why the “white walkers” in Game of Thrones have blue eyes because earlier I always thought ice to be white. From Jokursarlon we had an epic drive for more than 400 kms right upto the shores of Lake Myvatn where we camped for the night. While on the way to Myvatn we stopped for diesel at Hofn. We reached Myvatn late at night at about 1:00 AM and set up our camps at the shore of the lake. It off course did not matter as there was still enough daylight to set up our tents and cook dinner.
Our next stop was Akureyri, when on the way we stopped at Skutustadagigar, which was a mass of land and water that offered a beautiful bird watching trail to the visitors. Godafoss (The Fall of the Gods) also fell on the way, and of course that meant we halted. Post doing all the justice to the place as much was possible we finally headed straight towards Akureyri, the second largest city in Iceland. The city boasted of traffic lights that indicated smiles and hearts when your car sped near them keeping within speed limits. It felt really nice to witness a city post our long countryside stay. We had our eloquent lunch there at a restaurant named Noa post which we decided to visit the main attraction of the town, the church. Unfortunately, the same was closed but nonetheless we caught the view from outside and soon we were back on the road heading towards our next camp site at Hvammstangi, situated on the Miðfjörður.
Equally if not more inspiring, Skógafoss is one of Iceland’s largest waterfalls. You can get quite close to the waterfall and the spray coming off is amazing to see and feel. Just remember, as you get towards the mist, to protect your camera lens! As you are able to walk along the base of the waterfalls, you can also get to different levels for more than one side view. On the east side of Skógafoss, there is a long staircase in which you make the climb to get all the way to the top, or stop at side paths along the way that lead to lookout points. I tried to go up the entire staircase to reach the pinnacle, but due to having limited time — and me needing a lot more of time to get up and back down in one piece — I decided to go along one of the side trails and then back down to the base instead.
While en route, we made stops at these outdoor marvels. At Seljalandsfoss, there is a trail that leads you literally go behind these falls. Starting from the right, the trail winds around the back of the waterfall going underneath a cavern. Here, you can see and hear up close the continuing water. Then, you can head back out to the left to climb up a viewing area to check a different angle of Seljalandsfoss. Be careful, too, as these spots can be slippery.
The next morning was a quiet one. We were greeted with drizzle and a bit of cold which was different then what we encountered so far. Our next destination was a town at the south of Iceland called Vík. But this time was different as for the first time, we came across snow and glaciers in Iceland. The weather was cold at this part which was a sign of close by glaciers. We came across some of the most amazing beaches this part of Iceland. While one was filled with black pebbles all across, another one was the famous black sand beach with a mountable cliff which gives panoramic view of the mammoth Atlantic Ocean and the varied landscape of Iceland.
We were up early again yesterday because Reykjavik Excursions was picking us up at our hotel at 8:30am for the Golden Circle day tour. This is one of their most popular tours, and if you only have a short time in Iceland then it's a good way to see some interesting sights that are fairly close by. This tour takes you about 120 kms (75 miles) inland from Reykjavik, heading pretty much straight east. First stop along the way is a greenhouse where they show you how they are growing their own tomatoes and cucumbers here in Iceland, and they are doing it year round! Iceland is fairly expensive in a lot of ways, but two things that are cheap and abundant are hot water and electricity. So these greenhouses have tapped into the natural hot springs and the water supply keeps the greenhouses at a constant temperature year round. The lighting is all computerized to make use of the short periods of natural daylight that occurs during winter as well as the long days of summer. Computers also control humidity and CO2 which are important for perfect tomatoes. The tomatoes are totally natural and no pesticides of any kind are used.
Thingvellir National Park
Driving out of Reykavik (Rey-kya-vik) armed only with maps and a GPS was one of the best scenic road trips I ever had, combing through the extensively unspoiled nature. We took the Golden circle route in South Iceland initially, covering about 300km looping from the main city district into central Iceland - this got us through Pingvellir national park (a UNESCO world heritage site), lunch at Gullfoss waterfall (translated as 'golden falls') which was one of the most painful lunches I had as I couldn't feel my hands, much less savour my ham sandwich, and Haukadalur, an active geothermal valley which had Strokkur and Geysir geysers. Driving up North, we explored Pingvellir, Glymur and the Hvalfjordour region, and stopped by small towns like Akranes, Borgarnes and Hellnar, just to poke our noses into how countryside Nordic life is like. Some of our leisure drives also found us looking out for Kerið crater and 101 other waterfalls including Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss along a coastal drive. Others found us mounting random hills (okay, mostly the guys) and walking on thin ice. The main roads are smooth to drive on, and some roads and sidewalks branching out from Reykavik are heated by geothermal energy to melt ice (not that we even realized, but we read about it). But if you steer off the beaten path, you may find yourself well in several inches of snow or gravel.