My favourite places along Iceland’s South – Coast:
In my last post you can find 7 crazy adventures to be found around Reykjavik. Today I´ll take you with me on a road trip across the south and east coasts of Iceland.
It’s way too early to get up, but you know what they say about the early bird. The first highlight I find when entering Helena’s car: A Wi-Fi hotspot! “Well, almost everybody has it in Iceland nowadays” she says. Helena is a nice, funny open-minded Icelandic woman who not too long ago created her tour company Helena Travels Iceland. Today she will be our driver and guide.
It feels good to be on the road with a local. Helena tells us a lot about Iceland, its history, the Icelandic people as well as stories and the secrets about this beautiful country. One thing is clear; if we had done the road trip by ourselves we would have missed out on a lot of info, good stories and stunning places. But see for yourself…
1. The Massive Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
Fist stop: Seljalandsfoss waterfall. My top-secret tip: There is another one which is hidden. You can even climb into it. From here you can take a scenic walk along the cliffs until you reach the Seljalandsfoss waterfall – the biggest one in that area.
2. Wild Black Sand Beaches
The rough sea and the lonely black sands with the snow-covered mountains in the background just proved to me how beautiful and diverse nature can be. The most stunning ones are Reynisfjara Beach with its massive rock formation which reminds me of Giant’s Causeway in Ireland as well as the beach in the town of Vik.
3. An old Plane Wreck
After a turbulent and bumpy car ride across the wide beach of Sólheimasandur we reach the old US Navy DC-3 plane wreck. Back in 1973 the pilot ran out of fuel and decided to make an emergency landing. Nobody removed the wreckage and it has been here ever since. ( Update: Unfortunately, since mid of March the plane wreck is not open for public anymore )
4. Eyjafjallajokull Volcano
Eyjafjallajokull – I think I heard this name before!? Oh yes; the air traffic dilemma after the volcanic eruption back in 2010. It’s a bit surreal to stand JUST NEXT TO THIS MASSIVE VOLCANO and to gaze at it. The farm which is situated at the foot of Eyjafjallajokull glacier experienced the disruptive effect of the eruption first hand. The owners rebuilt everything and created a visitor centre where they show a really stunning and emotional movie about what happened. My recommendation: Definitely watch this movie!
5. Solheimajoküll Glacier
Putting our spikes on and off we go to climb that glacier. Even though it is just a short walk the natural landscape makes me feel as if I am on a different planet.
6. Icelandic Horses
The world-famous Icelandic horses which also go by the name Icelandic ponies. But never call them ponies. To the locals they are so much more than a pony. They are rather more a premium breed of horse who can even save your life if you are lost in the mountains. If you see them, just stop by. If you are lucky they will come to you to say hello.
Highlights at South East Coast in Iceland
Yesterday’s trip along the South-Coast was super amazing and I am literally blown away by all the impressions. Today we are meeting our new driver-guide Teitur from Esja Travel. This super nice and funny guy will take us on a trip to see the rest of the South-Coast up to the East-Coast. So, here are my highlights 7 -12:
7. Old Houses
These old houses are normally to be found near cliffs and offer comfortable space inside. There are only a few left in Iceland which were built by settlers, Vikings and seamen back in the day.
8. Top Secret Tip: Wild Urridafoss Waterfall
Wow, how stunning is that!? The rather unknown Urridafoss is the most water-rich waterfall in Iceland and situated around 16 km east of the city of Selfoss. Sadly however, this natural attraction will not remain forever. A large energy company is planning to build a dam here. I hope this will be prevented!
9. Eldhraun Lava Field
Silence! If you travel through this lava field you won’t hear a thing. This quiet atmosphere is at the same time quite relaxing but yet frightening. Imagine how quickly a volcano can erupt here with its lava overrunning a place like this. It just takes a couple of hours for that to happen.
10. Skaftafell Glacier
Next to Raufarholshellir cave, climbing the Skaftafell glacier is my main highlight of the day. Just put your spikes on and ready you are. Except for a small group of climbers there is nobody out here. This place seems so unreal and breath-taking. The final part of the movie Interstella with Matt Damon was shot here. And guess what. We even find a piece of evidence for that.
11. Jökulsárlón Lagoon
Jökulsárlón Lagoon is just a five-minute car ride from the glacier. Between ice floes, seals and gulls are playing in the quiet water of the lagoon with the sunset and the snow-covered mountains in the background. On the other side you find the sound of the sea and another beautiful black sand beach. Nothing else is important – just you and this place.
12. Northern Lights
The final highlight, of course – The Northern Lights! After getting out of the car at 1 a.m. totally exhausted, I can’t believe my eyes. Finally! After ten years of waiting for that moment there they are. The Northern Lights. Time is standing still and it’s only me and the dance of colours in the dark sky. I really was afraid I would not see them at all. So, you can imagine how happy I feel right now.
Wow, I’m blown away by this island. The road trip and the adventures I experienced around Reykjavik are quite extraordinary and I must say that I can’t compare this trip with any other trip I have been on so far. What I like about Iceland is the fact that you do not find too many tourists around. Which means it is not overcrowded. However, it is also a bit expensive here.
Road trips with a friend are normally good fun. However, Iceland is one of those mystical destinations where there is so much to get to know. The Icelandic people, stories, nature, life co-existing with the volcanoes, the greenest energy in the world, as well as the economic crisis and the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull that followed. Man, I could go on and on.
Being on a tour with a driver-guide in Iceland gave so much added-value to this trip. It was good fun, entertaining, informative, sociable and stress free. Plus we would never have found some of these places by ourselves either! And finally, when would you ever have the chance to hang out with a nice and cool Icelandic person for a whole day!? Helena from Helena Travels Iceland and Teitur from Esja Travel are for sure the right company for you if you want to explore Iceland. Thanks again for inviting us on your tours.
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Update: I just read Elena’s latest article about Iceland. Check out her Blog where you can find more inspiration and tips about Iceland.