Iceland- The South Coast

After spending three nights in the west I drove to the south coast of Iceland.  This is the most popular area in Iceland.  It is scenic, but one I did not want to spend much time in because of the crowds.  

One thing you find in Iceland when driving is the speed limit is low (about 55mph) and that the country is so scenic, you stop a lot for a photo or to explore.  As such it can take a long time to travel 100 miles (160km).  Knowing this to be the case I thought driving from Snaefellsness to Vik was plenty long.  Many would cannonball all the way east but I wanted this to be a chance to see, not speed through the countryside.  

First off was seeing some basalt cliffs.  You find many examples of them in country.  Basalt forms and fractures in a hex shape, it practically looks man-made.  There would be several times throughout my trip I could see and photograph them. I saw some in the morning as I started my drive.

Then after a short detour in Reykjavik to the Costco I was headed east.  Two of the most popular places in Iceland are Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, both neat waterfalls.  Seljalandsfoss is the waterfall you walk behind.  While that sounded neat, I knew it would be crowded in the mid-afternoon.  I got there to find 6 tour buses, 200 cars and a line like Disney.  No thanks.  However I had seen that 1/4 mile away was anothr waterfall.  Not as big, but in a "cave".  It is called Gljufrabui.  There were people there but only 20 or so.  This was a crowd you could work with.

It was also a place having Wellies came in very handy.  There is a path of small stepping stones into the cave.  The crowd is going one way or the other.  With my Wellies, I bypadded the crowd and just walked in.  You want full rain gear as the water falling into the confined space is like stepping into a shower- you will get soaked.  I would time my photos to be between the crowds.  Now you take one photo and then have to wipe the lens front to get the water spray off of it.  It makes you slow but it is a neat location.

Down the road at Skogafoss the crowds are worse and I do not stop at all.  You see many shot of the lone person in red jacket in front of this waterfall but the reality is hundreds there.  It just did not look fun.  On my way back a week later I stopped for a picture from across the road and was gone.

Finally late in the day I arrived at Vik.  Known best for the black sand beach.  Basically all the beaches in Iceland are black sand so do not feel compelled to have to see it.  There is a small area of basalt columns but it is packed with people.  Just off the coast are the trolls.  Caught by sunlight they were turned to stone.  This is a neat photo op but you might want a longer lens to shoot it.

The gas station in Vik has a good cafe with great lamb stew.  Was one of my favorite meals of eating out.

I watched a rainy twilight getting a couple of photos of the trolls and then settled in at the very crowded Vik campground.  Glad I was just here one night.

The next morning I was headed farther east.  There is a green fluted canyon I know most have seen images from.  Canyon is called Fjaorargljufur.  It is very neat and scenic, but it will not be like the images.  Here is one place they have started to rope off and protect like they need to do.  No more walking out onto narrow tips and dangling you boots for a selfie.  Only three viewpoints to visit.  You cannot wade into the canyon.  They have even put up a restroom (which is a rarity in many popular spots).  I arrived at 0830 and the parking lost was already almost full.  I got the last of about 25 spaces.  When I left there were another 40 cars parked along the road.  I walked the path and visited the viewpoints.  I got a few images to show for it too.   Again it is a neat place but very busy.

I made one more stop in the area a small little roadside area called the Dwarf Cliffs.  It is a small short basalt canyon where you can get a photo of a distant waterfall.  I found it to be a very good stop despite how small and simple it was.  I also had it to myself.  Wow does that make  a difference.  It was my favorite site in the south, not because it was the most epic but beacuse it was scenic and quiet.
Dwarf Cliffs


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