#4 Waterfalls, Lava Fields & Black Sand Beaches

I interject here about our ride on this spectacular trip around Iceland.

As mentioned previously our driver/guide was Reynir, and Iceland native, who spoke English as well as his native Icelandic tongue.

His van held the 12 in our group and himself. Agreed upon from day 1, we would rotate seats daily, so that everyone had opportunities to view from differing seats. This arrangement changed somewhat when some in the group felt a bit ill with coughs, sinusitis, runny noses and would sit in the back row to lessen any impacts on the rest of our crew.

The back row could accommodate 4 people, but Tom and I chose that seat the first day, giving us ample room to spread out. The van was WiFi equipped with charging plugs in every row. With all the mobile phone photo taking that was very convenient in keeping cell phones charged. Throughout the whole vacation, Iceland and Greenland, most of us had iPhones and a slew of Air Drop swapping of photos and videos amongst us was ongoing. It was great way to share how others saw or took pictures and videos. 

Our second full day further revealed many more of the wonders of Iceland, the first learning more about Iceland’s geology at the Lava Center, an interactive museum that visually and audibly demonstrates the volcanic and earthquake 

activity of the island and its formation over millions of years. This museum truly is an experience of Iceland as the “land of fire and ice”. Exhibits built to scale help demonstrate the massive columns of magma that lie beneath Iceland  as well as the other “hot” spots around the globe. Leaving this museum left me feeling the magnitude of how Earth has developed over billions of years - and is still evolving. 

Continuing along the South Coast the Seljalandsfoss waterfall was impressive upon our approach, but the real marvel was that we could walk behind the falls!  At 130 ft. high, it was a misty experience well worth the careful effort to amble around and behind the cascade.

Stopping at the Skógar Folk Museum introduced us to many interesting artifacts from over the ages, history of fishing and folklore of the trolls and Yule Lads, a special group of trolls whose traditions continue as part of Icelandic Christmases. Here we were introduced to the first turf houses which were a common construction in the early years of settlement. 

As the name implies, sections of turf, or sod, were used in forming walls of homes. Limited timber necessitated use of driftwood in these buildings. The resulting abodes were cozy, although rustic and cramped.

Nearby the mighty waterfall, Skógafoss which at nearly 200 ft. high was larger and even more stunning. From a distance it was deceiving, but its power became ever more evident the closer one came toward it. Adding to the experience, a long stairway trail led to the top of the waterfall, and, of course, I hustled up to get the whole effect.



From above looking up the river was a grassy plateau, below, the river wend its way to the distant sea through grassy green fields where white farm buildings topped with red roofs stood in contrast to the green fields where cattle grazed contentedly.

Next along our route was the village of Vik and on to yet another striking landscape along the ocean.There beautiful black sand beaches stretch as far as the eye can see, the sea erupting in crashing waves along the shore where the only land south of Vík is Antarctica - a long, unobstructed space for the Atlantic currents to travel before smashing into Iceland.

But the most remarkable aspect of this location, to me, are the cliffside rock formations, the basalt columns that stand tall from the black sands below to high up the cliffs. Resembling a pyramid or a gigantic organ pipe, they are incredibly impressive.

In the afternoon we traveled through more green cloaked mountainsides where thin ribbon waterfalls streamed down and through old lava fields. 

Some lava flows leave behind sharp, jagged edged mantles of solidified magma while others, whether by the nature of their origins or the passing of ages, appear more rounded, less rugged in comparison and further softened by moss that covers them. These are all remnants of the fiery origins and ongoing evolution of this land.

The Magma Hotel was our resting stop for the night, by far the most excellent of all the hotels along the circumnavigation of Iceland. 

Located far out in the countryside individual cottages appointed with comfortable contemporary furnishings, where small decks overlooking green rolling hills, a small lake and grazing horses made for a lovely and calming backdrop for this overnight stay. Equally nice was the main building where we were served a delicious dinner and a nourishing breakfast the next morning. Leaving Magma Hotel was a bit bittersweet, but we had a whole lot of territory to cover and so on we went.

u   kdonald940@cox.net © Donald E. Kline 2012