Our lovely little log cabin was located in the Geysir area of southern Iceland. We found it to be a great place to base ourselves in order to explore the South of the island. We picked up our hire car as soon as we landed and headed to our log cabin. As we visited in November and didn’t land until 3pm, by the time we reached Geysir it was pitch black, well apart from the brief dance we received from the Northern Lights (YES – bucket list experience ticked off!), therefore exploration would have to wait until the next day.
We were obviously too excited to sleep as we both woke at 6.30am (please bear in mind we are not usually early risers). Unfortunately, the sun was not due to rise until 10.30am so we pottered about – eating breakfast, watching an episode of House of Cards and making a packed lunch to take on our road trip with us. By 9.00am there was a slight glimmer of light in the sky and we couldn’t wait to jump in the car any longer. We, therefore, packed up the car, ensuring the heated seats were switched on to the highest setting (it was freezing outside – literally) and hit the road.
Our initial destination for the day had been Vik, however, as we drove we caught sight of a number of waterfalls on our left-hand side. With nothing close behind us, we quickly flicked on the indicator and parked the car up in the designated car park. As we walked closer to the waterfalls we found the sign letting us know that we had, in fact, stumbled across Seljalandsfoss, which is actually one of the most famous in Iceland. The waterfall drops 60 m (197 ft) and you can, in fact, walk behind it. Unfortunately, on the day we visited, and I imagine every day during the winter months, it was far too icy to get anywhere near the cave that sits behind it. It was so icy, that people were getting far too close to the waterfall and falling over, one girl even landed on her camera, damaging it. Therefore, if walking behind the waterfall is high on your to-do list then we’d recommend visiting in the summer months to ensure you can do it.
After a very welcome hot chocolate, we jumped back in the car and continued our journey to Vik. However, yet again we were distracted by another waterfall on our left-hand side, this one even bigger than the last. As we approached we saw the sign stating it was Skógafoss. We had planned to visit on our way back from Vik but we were so memorised by it we had to pull in and see it up close right there and then. Skógafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in the country with a width of 25 metres (82 feet) and a drop of 60 m (200 ft). You can walk to the top of it and look down and walk right up to it. Again, unfortunately, due to the freezing conditions the steps leading up and the rocks up close where extremely slippery and I personally didn’t fancy falling over and injuring myself. In fact, no one was getting that close, barring one brave lady. Skógafoss produces a lot of spray so be prepared to get wet if you get close, also on a clear sunny day you are also almost guaranteed to see a rainbow or two above it.
Our final destination of the day, which had been intended to be the first, was Vik.
As we rounded the corner into the town the first thing we saw was the beautiful whitewashed church up on a hill, which is the evacuation point should the Katla volcano erupt and the town becomes at risk of flooding. With plenty of parking available up there, it seemed like the perfect place to start our exploration of Vik. We were lucky enough to be the only people there and enjoyed walking around it and taking photographs at our leisure. The church is beautiful and offers great views over the rest of Vik. Although it’s important to remember you are open to the elements so even after a quick five-minute stop it left us windswept and in need of a hot drink.
Black Sand Beach and Rock Formation
We drove down into the town and parked at the main car park in front of the main restaurant and petrol station, where everyone else was parking. Finding the award-winning black sand beach was very simple, we just followed the crowds of people heading in the same direction. The stretch of beautiful black basalt sand is one of the wettest places in Iceland and the cliffs surrounding the beach are home to many seabirds, including puffins which unfortunately we weren’t lucky enough to see on this visit. Out to sea, you can see a large rock formation of pillars, a great sight and one which has many folklores surrounding it.
Voyages Friendship Statue
The statue stands tall just on the edge of the black sand beach. The 1.8m (6ft) statue was made by Icelandic sculptor Steinunn Thorarinsdottir. Thorarinsdottir’s inspiration for the aluminium sculpture was the people who make their living at sea and the families who fear they will not return. Thorarinsdottir made a second one and gave it as a gift to the city of Kingston upon Hull, England (OUR HOMETOWN) in 2006 as a token of friendship. Being from Hull, seeing this sculpture made it all the more special, especially as we have links to sea through our families and the fact that Mr ESLT is himself a marine pilot.
As we started to lose the light, it was time to head back to our log cabin, cook dinner, talk about our day and plan our itinerary for day 2 of our road trip.
Day 1 miles travelled – 343km. Driving time – 4hr 24min