South Coast of Iceland

It  had been three days in Reykjavik and my hostel booking had run out. Plan was to start driving on the south coast till Vik. Golden Circle was done and driving in the snow bolstered my confidence and scared me in equal measures. Booked the Puffin Hostel in Vik (the bathroom I wrote my last post from) for two nights and started planning my drive. Tried looking up fellow travelers going in the same direction, with zero luck. About an hour prior to leaving, got pings from two travelers and things kind of fell in place. 🙂 Riadh and Edgar hopped on for the drive till Vik and I started driving.

On hindsight, the drive wasn’t bad at all. Snowy and icy in parts, but nothing that driving slow can’t solve. The view on the way was insanely pretty.

This country is full of gorgeous waterfalls. I am floored already, and I haven’t even seen half of them! The northern part of the country is snowed in, and I don’t have the risk appetite to drive there. The famous ones on the South Coast are Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss and Svartifoss. Seljalandsfoss was about 1.5 hours drive from Reykjavik. In spite of the incessant wind and snow, that place is amazing. I have been gifted an ND filter as a Thanksgiving gift (yes, we do Thanksgiving now! :)) and weather conditions were not going to deter me from using it! This is the filter that makes flowing water look smooth. You will know what I am referring to when you see the pics. As is obvious, I was fairly excited about it. This is also the waterfall where you can go behind the water. It’s pretty cool!

There was a snowstorm on the way, when we saw Icelandic horses by the road side. They are such a good looking bunch!

Vik is famous for its black sand beach, Reynisfjara. It is a volcanic lava beach, created by lava flowing into the ocean which cooled almost instantly as it touched the water. There are these really tall basalt columns on the beach, called Gardar. They almost look like someone manually shaped them symmetrically – something known as Columnar Jolting. Oh not to forget stories from the land of elves and trolls. 🙂 There are these two basalt cliffs in the sea called Reynisdrangar. As the story goes, these formations are actually two trolls. One night when they were trying to pull a three-masted ship out of the sea, the sun began to rise. And well, trolls turn to stone in daylight! 🙂

Riadh and Edgar went their way. I had another day in Vik, which was spent getting drenched at Skógafoss and hiking to the famous US Navy plane wreck site (aka the site where Gerua was shot). Skógafoss can literally take your breath away. It is huge and amidst the rain and snow, my five feet self felt extremely dwarfed!

It was about 3.30 pm by the time I reached the plane wreck parking spot. Sun down happens at about 4.30 pm and I was in two minds about the 8 km walk, up and down. Then it stopped raining for a bit, and I decided to go. Because like most things I do, why not! This one is a US navy plane wreck on the black sand beach, Sólheimasandur. The crash happened in 1973 and everyone had survived. So, this is not a graveyard of sorts. Just that it makes for excellent photographs. People actually camp there, but I like my bed warm. It took me about 2 hours to go to the plane and back. This walk was probably one of the most meditative things I have done in Iceland so far. There was barely a soul on the walk way and everything was covered in white as far as my eyes could see. The grey sky also blended into the landscape to a point, where I couldn’t even see a horizon! I am going to spare you details about my conversations with self,. but quite an overwhelming experience. 🙂

Well, that was it. I was heading out to the east coast next day, towards Jökulsárlón. I did come back to Vik for one night on my way back. Stayed at HI hostel, which I would highly recommend. Meeting travelers and hearing their stories is fast becoming a norm. Also, I got my best shot of Northern Lights in Vik. From a spot, a short walk ahead of the Vik i Myrdal Church. Wrote about it here and here!

Footnote – Met Yolanda and Brian at HI hostel, and both of them have driven 2WD cars through North Ring Road (separately)! And here I was giving myself credit for driving the South Coast. 🙂 Also, I missed going to Dyrhólaey, because a 4WD was required in the last stretch. But, it comes highly recommended. Pinned for a later trip.

Another footnote – Riadh has promised a business class upgrade and a cockpit entry, if I manage to fly in an Air Algeria plane that he is flying! Noting it down to make it legit. 😉

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