Iceland Day 3: Drive till Vik – south coast

Photo of Iceland Day 3: Drive till Vik – south coast by nidhi patnaik

This was the beginning of our ring road itinerary in the anti clockwise direction starting from the south coast of Iceland.

We were tired after a challenging and a long drive the previous day. But, the excitement didn’t wither off to explore and experience more of this intriguing country, so beautiful and so daunting at the same time.

Amazing walking trail behind the powerful waterfall

Today’s first stop was Seljalandfoss, a well known waterfall around 128 kms from Reykjavik, where we were staying till now. By now, we did get a bit accustomed to the right hand drive unlike in our country back home.

As we drove outside the city, the usual bewildering landscape still continued to enchant us. The weather was quite cloudy and by the time we arrived at Seljalandfoss, it started raining. This place was quite packed with tourists as there were not many parking spots available.

We quickly covered ourselves with rain pants and jackets and walked towards the waterfall. Since we were under the effect of the spell cast by the highlands, the beautiful waterfall appeared to be great but nothing which could make us jump with madness, like it felt the previous day.

We lined up to walk towards the back of the waterfall, which is a unique thing to experience as it is not very usual to watch a waterfall from it’s back. Even as we were walking towards it, the force with which water was pouring, spraying a lot of water, enough to get us drenched completely.

We climbed down to the bottom of the waterfall through the rocks, and stood close enough to feel it’s profoundness and strength. The water was falling with a hell lot of intensity as it felt like getting wet in heavy downpour of rains.

And now this was something which felt like an extraordinary yet an experience crazy enough to feel the divine power of nature.

The walking trail behind the waterfall

Photo of Seljalandsfoss, Iceland by nidhi patnaik


Photo of Seljalandsfoss, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

Gljufrabi- The hidden waterfall inside a rocky cliff

There is another smaller waterfall known as Gljufrabui around 500 meters ahead. We kept on walking but couldn’t find a trace of any waterfall as such making it easy to be overlooked.

What we noticed was a stream flowing through a narrow canyon where people where going in and coming out. We crossed the stream with the help of pebbles placed which took us inside. It is mildly challenging and having good hiking shoes with a strong grip and waterproof clothing is a must here.

But, when we were inside, the magnificent and gigantic waterfall partially hidden inside the rocky cliff was worth the trouble. There was a large boulder in front of it and I climbed over it to experience the secret waterfall by directly standing under it.

The thunderous waterfall was not just a simple delight or a beautiful sight, but it was so strong that I could feel the rush of water inside of me in this dark cave like kind of a place. I looked up to see the blue sky and green moss covering the waterfall giving it a mystical god-like appearance.

More than the rain, the waterfalls are good enough here to get us completely drenched. As we were clothed appropriately, in no matter of time we pulled out the outer layer and were all dried up by the time we left this place.

The entrance of the hidden waterfall Gjulfrabi

Photo of Iceland Day 3: Drive till Vik – south coast by nidhi patnaik

Walking into the narrow passage

Photo of Iceland Day 3: Drive till Vik – south coast by nidhi patnaik

Link to the video: Gjulfrabi waterfall

Solheimajokull Glacier – The guided glacier hike

We had booked a glacier hike before the commencement of our vacation with a tour agency online ‘Extreme Iceland‘. It was still raining and we were a bit apprehensive of doing this hike in this kind of a weather. We called to confirm in case they were going to cancel it due to the bad weather, but viola the hike was still on!

Skogafoss is another sought-after waterfall which is on the way, around 11 km far from here. Since we were short on time, we stopped by to have a quick look at the waterfall and as it was anyways raining, we decided to come back later here after the glacier hike for which we had a reserved slot, so there was no chance to postpone it.

We spotted the ‘Extreme Iceland’ van in the parking lot from a distance after parking our car. The parking is free here, and it is not difficult to find a vacant spot. We entered the van looking for the guide who was going to accompany us. They provided us with climbing harness, Ice axe, helmets and crampons which were required during the hike on the glacier.

I was excited but also a lot nervous as walking on Ice did not look like a cakewalk anymore. We carried the crampons, helmets and the Ice axe with us till a point from where the glacier hike began. It was nice to see an Indian family with 2 kids doing this with us which was a source of some encouragement.

As we started walking, the guide was giving us information about the effects of global warming on this glacier as the rapidly shrinking Ice is causing this glacial tongue to recede at a faster rate. He also told us about the dangerous active volcanoes Katla and Eyjafjallajökull which last erupted in 2010 and caused a major havoc in Iceland. He told us about the sensors continuously monitoring their volcanic activity so as to send out timely signals in case of an eruption.

We didn’t require any additional rain pants or jackets, as we were already clothed appropriately with rain pants, waterproof jackets, gloves and cap. The guide instructed us on how to fit and attach the crampons to our shoes. It was a bit of a task for me, as I struggled with it from some time before getting it right. But, it is quite important to get his fitted correctly and the guide was anyways there for helping us with it.

We were all set now to conquer the heavenly glacier ready to welcome us in their abode. Our guide gave us some instructions and basic lessons on how to climb on Ice and also, some tips about walking down during the descend.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed as the glacial Ice was mixed with volcanic ash and wasn’t completely white like I imagined. That thought was soon overtaken by my fear to walk with crampons on the Ice. The fear to slip on it scared me a little. But eventually with initial few steps, I got a grip of how to walk on the icy surface. The landscape started to make it’s way into our minds, as the icebergs floating on a lake behind in between the enormous volcanic ash over the glacier was a splendid view.

Finally, at the summit of our hike, the best experience was awaiting. Our guide used his axe to create a small fissure from where we could drink the pristine water of the glacier. We lay down in a pose similar to doing a push-up to taste the sweet pure fresh water. What a delicious experience it was!

Going back to the parking lot from where we started was relatively easier as by this time, we got used to walking on the icy surface. By the time we descended, it was quite warm due to the sun coming out and the hike making our bodies warmer. That is why clothing in layers is important in Iceland due to the ever changing weather. We took off our jackets and the outer layering to beat the heat.

The volcanic ash mixed with glacial Ice

Photo of Sólheimajökull, Iceland by nidhi patnaik
Photo of Sólheimajökull, Iceland by nidhi patnaik
Photo of Sólheimajökull, Iceland by nidhi patnaik
Photo of Sólheimajökull, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

A heavenly waterfall

It was time to re-visit we what we had left behind. We went back to Skogafoss which lies in a tiny village of Skogar.

Since it had stopped raining, We were back on our spirit of exploring this place to the best. From the parking spot, we started walking towards the spectacular waterfall. The extremely green cliffs around the water being thrown from the top of the fall into the river downstream was an unusual experience to watch and relish.

We took the stairway besides the waterfall to go to the top and catch some glimpses of the view from a platform at the top. The metal stairs are around 400+ and tired me a little. But, the climb is worth it as the views from the top are breathtaking. The view is astonishing with lush green valley around the waterfall and the stream of the river flowing in between. Further ahead, we noticed a gate which opened into a trail which is a popular hiking route to Thorsmork which is a mountain ridge in southern Icelandic highlands.

I was excited at this discovery as the walking trail was an exceptional beauty. We followed the stream and spotted many more smaller charming waterfalls. As this wasn’t something which we planned, we did not do the complete trek which is quite long(~ 22 km till Thorsmork). But, even the short hike was extremely scenic with the Skoga river and the charming waterfalls making their way into the luxuriant green valley.

Photo of Skógafoss, Iceland by nidhi patnaik
Photo of Skógafoss, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

View of Skogafoss from the platform at the top

Photo of Skógafoss, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

The walking trail at the top of the waterfall

Photo of Skógafoss, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

Skoga river

Photo of Skógafoss, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

A scenic and peaceful coastal town

We had to check in into our airbnb accommodation near Vik which is a remote coastal village with just 300 inhabitants and is also a popular stop over for it’s beautiful scenic landscape.

Our guesthouse was 7 kms from Vik, ideally located close to the popular Reynisfjara beach and Dyrholaey.

With the help of google maps. it was easy to navigate to the guest house where we had a room for ourselves in a house with 5 bedrooms. I was surprised to find the place so quiet and well maintained despite so many people sharing the house. It is nice to see visitors from different countries respecting each other’s space and sharing the common utilities without causing any inconvenience.

We quickly freshened up, had a Ready to eat meal which we were carrying with us for dinner and left to experience our next adventure. It was around 8:00 PM at night, but still not dark as the sunset was around midnight at 12:30 AM.

This black sand beach is a very popular tourist location. I could see that because even though it was late evening, the beach was still swarming with visitors and an almost full parking lot. The beach was packed with tourists and photographers trying to take the perfect shot. Somehow, seeing so many people was a turn off for me as it hampers the experience a little.

The roaring waves hitting the shore are dangerous, but when they hit the black shore, the dark magical beauty looks surreal. Usually, white sand and golden sand beaches set the perception of beautiful beaches, but here the unique black sand beaches swept me off the floor. The black sand adds a mystic touch to the electrifying waves coming towards the shore.

The basalt columns on the shore are another mysterious creation, as the amazing rock formations were naturally formed in such an artistic manner. A lot of people were posing here and climbing over it for a picturesque shot. But, it is not recommended to venture close to the shoreline and there are warning signs asking people to stay away from the deadly waves.

Watching the sunset at midnight

It was already late at night, and we wanted to watch the sunset from Dyrholaey which offers some great views of the Reynisfjara beach and there is a lighthouse at the top. It is mainly known for it’s naturally formed arch in the cliffs.

It started to get dark at around 11:00 PM. There was just one more vehicle in the parking lot and very few people here. We did not drive till the top and ended up parking our car at the lower elevation viewing spot.

We walked around to explore some stunning views of the beach from here and also a few migratory birds forming a beautiful pattern on the beach. The splendid view of the black sand beach with the ocean in front and having this place completely to ourselves was truly divine. Despite the cold and windy weather, I felt the warmth of this wondrous beauty even in the darkness of the setting sun and the black sand beach.

We spotted the light house at the top from here, and decided to do this hike on the spur of the moment. The midnight hike turned out to be one of my best experiences here. Initially, doing this with hardly anyone around in the middle of the night did feel spooky. But, the fear started disappearing with every step taking us closer to the lighthouse at the top.

The sky was dancing in colors of pink, blue radiating a light so strong and powerful that it managed absorbing all my apprehensions about doing this hike. The hike was a little steep but now nothing could stop me from reaching to the top especially when I got a chance to watching the spectacular sunset.

At the top, there were a few people and also some cars who had driven directly to the top. There is a gravel road to the top, so I was anyways happier about doing this hike on our own than driving directly till here. We wandered around watching the sky and capturing some of the views. The lighthouse was unfortunately closed but it did look beautiful from outside.

We also spotted the famous arch in the cliff from here, but we couldn’t find a way to go over there.

The perfectly formed arch was something which makes me wonder on how fascinating can a place get with so many stunning spots and places. After exploring for some time, it was time to hike back to the bottom where we had parked our car and call it a day!

The basalt columns at Reynisfjara beach

Photo of Dyrhólaey, Vik, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

View of Reynisfjara beach from Dyrholaey- spotted some beautiful migratory birds sitting prettily on the beach

Photo of Dyrhólaey, Vik, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

Bubbling with happiness- The view of a magnificent glacier behind, so much light even at midnight!

Photo of Dyrhólaey, Vik, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

The church on the way to Reynisfjara

Photo of Dyrhólaey, Vik, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

A midnight trek to the top-The sunset at midnight from the top of Dyrholaey

Photo of Dyrhólaey, Vik, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

The naturally formed arc in the cliffs as seen from the top of Dyrholaey

Photo of Dyrhólaey, Vik, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

Important links of the day:

Airbnb accommodation in Vik

Glacier hike at Solheimajokull

Link to the main blog of Iceland: Hello Iceland