Our road trip was starting to come to an end by the 9th day and after breakfast at the award winning Hotel Ranga near Hella, we headed east to explore the stunning south coast of Iceland… which has an incredible of sights to see and if I am completely honest, if you have 2 days to split it across – go for it! The best thing of all is that from breakfast all the way to the most easterly point of this trip in Vik, and then back to Hveragerði for the last night in Iceland, you really only stay on a single road – hit the route 1!
The first stop (on the left hand side of the road) is what I think is the most spectacular waterfall which we found – Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. It is by no means the biggest waterfall but wha makes it really special is the fact that you can walk all the way around the back of this natural wonder. As you walk up to it, once you get to the side of the splash pool you are instantly hit by a fine mist of cool water, which gets thicker and thicker until you are right next to the falls themselves… Once you get behind them (depending on which way the wind of blowing) you still get wet but you do notice it get much drier than in front. The view from behind here is spectacular but when going anti clockwise around it (which most people do) be careful of the climb after the falls to get back around to the front. The biggest tip I can give you for this stop though is to get your waterproofs on!
Roughly half way between Seljalandsfoss and your next stop there is a quick little (and I mean little) photo stop on the left hand side – on our way there we actually just saw it and didn’t have a chance to stop so did so on our way back, at which point the lighting wasn’t so good any more. It is called Kofinn (the shed) at Vegskyli. It looks like a little hobbit hut at the side of the road but in fact it was used firstly as a shelter for farmers but then later as a bus stop shelter… It is very cute for a quick photo though!
The next stop is the second waterfall of the day in the form of Skógafoss. This is much larger and you can actually walk to the top of it (we had a huge amount to do on this day and it really is a long way up at 60 meters and almost 40 steps, so we didn’t attempt it that day) than Seljalandsfoss but I think that the difference between just seeing a big spectacular waterfall and the theatre of being able to go behind the other meant that Seljalandsfoss was far more impressive for me. It is certainly well worth a stop though!
The final scenery stop of the day comes when you get all the way to Vik – which we headed in to first to grab some items for lunch before back tracking a little bit to head down road 215 to the famous black sand beaches of Vik. There are spectacular cliff formations right down to the beach which feels like you’re beside an ocean on another planet… Whilst it is not the most sheltered of locations on this trip there is a restaurant there and a free car park so if its blowing a little too much there are a number of places to get out of it… More important there is the very cool Hálsanefshellir cave right down on the beach!
We headed back towards Hveragerði to check in to the spectacularly located Guest House Frost and Fire at around 2:00pm as we had further plans or the evening. Upon arrival the hotel itself isn’t hugely spectacular, but the rooms are really comfortable and well decorated in a nice and modern style. What makes it so special is its location amongst the rolling hills of the area, right across the river from an area with a lot of geothermal activity… All of which you can see from your large windows at the back of the room leading on to a small veranda. The restaurant here looks great and offers a beautiful breakfast but we didn’t use it for dinner, following our very expensive dinner the previous night at Hotel Ranga, so headed in to the town to grab a pizza at Hofland Setrid – a really nice place to eat cheap with huge portions!
The day was far from over however finishing the planned activities from the day with a trip to the famous Icelandic Horse Park, Fákasel which does a great job at showing the history of such a unique breed of horse, with the added surprise of giving everyone a tour behind the scenes (with the best bit being a chance to meet and give a quick cuddle to the best part of the show – the dog). I must admit that after having been to Medieval Times in Orlando, this show can’t even come close to competing but especially if you like horses its a fun evening out without having to spend a huge amount of money.
We returned to the hotel ready to relax and after putting the TV on and enjoying a few minutes of Robin Hood with Kevin Kostner I looked out of the window and was surprised by the perfect view of the northern lights… A huge relief after the disappointing view we had of them at Hotel Ranga. You can get a pretty good view of them from your room, however if you want a really special view, especially for that great photo opportunity you need to leave your room and head back to the hills across the bridge, but do be careful and bring a torch as well as something warm to wrap up in, as its a bit of a walk back to your room and it gets pretty cold up on the hill!
Waterfalls, mountains, black beaches, hobbit huts and the stunning northern lights – what a way to enjoy the south of Iceland!