The previous day was icy and extremely cold, with almost the whole day bearing light interspersed with showers and drizzle. We had skidded on the ice on our trip to Thingvellir National Park and had almost veered into the incoming lane . After a not so rewarding third day of our Iceland tour yesterday, we had boosted our spirits the previous evening with some Brennevin and Reyka, and everyone had oodles of fun at home. All of us, the three couples had put in extra efforts to have a sumptuous dinner. As the night progressed, the partially see-through roof of our cottage got increasingly covered with snow, and the howling winds kept us on tenterhooks. The fury and force of the wind increased and changed into a fierce gale as the night progressed. For dinner we had hot Indian chicken curry, dal or lentil, with pickles and fine cereal cakes. Subzero temperature outside, we warmed ourselves with strong doses of Icelandic Reyka, a shnapp which tasted delightful and we worked ourselves into a party mood. The children, after some splashing around inside the warm waters of the Jacuzzi, were happy and relaxed. They had their share of chips and colas, while we played music, sang encore and danced till about 1 am in the morning. In between, all of us took turns to venture out into the back porch to look up at the sky : Where are the Northern lights ? But it wasn’t really the ideal setting for the Aurora Borealis. This is the fourth part of my Travelogue on our Road Trip across south of Iceland, titled ” A day of Breathtaking Waterfalls : Iceland Travelogue Part 4″. Iceland Travelogue begins here !!
Today we planned to start early . We got all our luggage and gears packed into the car as we left our beautiful cottage at Uthlid. A long day lay ahead of us and the plan was to also include Kerid Lake on the way to the famous waterfalls of Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss. We prayed for the weather to hold good. Well in Iceland, the weather always changes every hour. The morning promised better weather compared to the one we had the day before and though some clouds hung over the skies there was no sign of rain yet. It was a gloomier ,cloudier day but we didn’t mind that. We were careful to be on time.
We reached Kerid , with some light rain on our way, in about an hour and half. A volcanic crater lake , Kerid is a prominent sightseeing spot on on the Golden Circle Tour. Among all the places we had visited which were literally free of charge ,the landowners of this area charged an entry fee of about USD 4 per person. The only consolation was being a larger groups we got some discount. The lake lies among undulating hillocks and is about 55 meters deep and 180 meters wide.
Water forms at the base of the caldera and is an indication of the ground water level. Though we did see a few hikers and more adventurous travelers walking around the perimeter of the crater, we weren’t in any mind to do so. Spending about half an hour around the caldera, we enjoyed the natural beauty of the place. The team is always in the mood to pose for some snaps and below is one such. A slight drizzle reminded us that we’d rather wrap this soon, since the day’s plan included long distance travel. Today we were planning to drive down to the south of the island, with a few stops in between and an estimate of about a hundred a fifty kms of wilderness.” width=600 ]
Our next stop was Seljalandsfoss but in between we braked for lunch at Selfoss. A small industrial town, Selfoss is an important commercial junction in the route along the Golden Circle. It also looked like an industrial town of south central Iceland. The children were excited to find KFC and McDonald’s and thus we all joined for a meal of chicken, burger and fries. Chatting up with a couple of friendly locals, I was told to go and have a look at Eyrabakki. ‘Not far from here,’ they said and we thought, ‘Why not?’
Eyrabakki , a sea side village, was about 20 minutes of drive from Selfoss and we reached there without much fuss. Google Maps is a wonder and nowadays GPS is hardly a necessity. In between it had again started to drizzle, the temperature had suddenly dipped a couple of degrees south. As I stood there, with rain and winds blowing into my face, Eyrabakki didn’t look much promising, not after what we had experienced in the last three days. Standing on the elevated coast line embankment bordering the Atlantic sea, it didn’t beckon us much to stay longer and we gave a passing look around the village as we drove around the narrow streets and finely built cottages. The quiet village had its little market place and a steeple church in the center and an auto repair garage on one side.
We soon took to the highway towards Vik. The road stretched flat in front of us, green meadows on either sides. We passed expanses of untilled agro lands, again a bit of an industrial hub in between and then more farmland. The green meadows on one side quickly changed into broken undulating mountain ridges as we drove along. On and off we saw farm houses with chimneys billowing smoke and sheep and lamb grazing in the pastures. Horses were also a common sight, moving in groups of 2 or 3, playful and oblivious of us as we breezed past them. About 80 kilometers and an hour later we approached Seljalandsfoss.
Seljalandsfoss was one of the must-see attractions for me as I had seen countless photographs and videos of this scintillatingly beautiful waterfall while planning for Iceland.
Seljalandsfoss waterfall can be seen from a distance of 10 kms on the Golden Circle route from Selfoss towards Vik. It is is NEVER to be missed.
The road that takes you to the base of the falls breaks off from the highway at a distance of about 4 kms. But the sight of the majestic falls guides you like the north star and is a very easily reachable spot.
Though it is neither the highest nor the mightiest, Seljalandsfoss waterfall is one of the most magnificent in South Iceland. Sixty five meters high, Seljalandsfoss waterfall is home to many local fables and stories. Many a couple have tied the knot in front of this splendid work of nature. Do prepare to get wet as you walk up and down the narrow mountain tracks. Even on a dry day the foam and mist will get you wet, and thus never forget to pack a raincoat or a water resistant jacket in your bag when travelling in Iceland. Seljalandsfoss waterfall is one of the 10 most photographed locations among nature’s wonders in Iceland.
Here is what I saw :
There is a nice and big parking lot, from where you can get nice photos too. A stream which trickles down, fed from the water of the Seljalandsfoss waterfall and a small wooden plank bridge on the side gives a nice setting for taking snaps. What makes it unique is that you can climb a flight of stairs and trudge a narrow mountain trail to reach a ledge behind the water curtain.And there as you look outward , through the curtain of water and its mist, the whole world appears to you in a myriad of colours and shapes.
This is one of the most magical waterfalls I have seen in Iceland. It was raining when we reached but still went ahead to get a peep at the world through the falls. It was chilly, close to 4 in the afternoon and the sun was covered behind a cloudy and rainy shroud . I pulled my jacket and water-resistant pants , packed my Nikon in plastic bag and slowly and cautiously made way upwards by the iron-stairs . Strong gusts of wind blew at intervals and the icy spray hit me as I went closer to the falls. I was wet soon, my palms pained as I gripped into the cold rails of the staircase. There were a couple of equally enthusiastic people going up and down and one needs to move over to the side to allow the people coming downwards. The pathway was slippery with mud and water and every few meters I took a break to look back at the scene.
Once you reach the ledge which juts out of the mountain wall, the strength and severeness of the chill and spray becomes a bit less and you can halt and wait to look outside. The beautiful expanse of hills and plain lands spreads in front of you, through the colours of the rainbow which forms at the pit of the falling water below.
One word of caution here. Cameras get drenched with moisture if you don’t keep them covered and in many cases, like mine, they stop to function in the chill and under freezing temperature . The best I could thus do, was to whisk out my smartphone and take a few snaps, till that stopped to function too. A couple of minutes and it was time to go the way back .
There is a restroom near the falls beside the parking lot and a cafeteria nearby too in case you need a bit of hot refreshments after this icy adventure.
We stayed around for some time, enjoying the beauty and experiencing the magic of gushing water and thundering falls , in the midst of unspoilt nature. About an hour later after we dried ourselves and changed clothes, it was time to move on. The next stop planned for the day was Skogafoss , about 30 kms away. We had our coffee mugs warm by the time we had changed back from our dripping coveralls and a few sips of coffee made us ready to go.The failing light could not deter us from tackling the next sight of the Golden Circle route.
About 60 meters high and 25 meters wide, Skogafoss waterfalls lands with deafening sound and spray to create an eternal mist and haze which shrouds from its base to halfway to the top. With a black bed of volcanic stones underneath it, Skogafoss enthralls visitors with a double rainbow on clear sunny days.
Once you are within 300 meters of the falls, it is very hard to hear each other talk, as the thunder and roar of the waterfalls makes speech take a back seat. Some travelers, enamored with the Viking’s tale of gold hidden somewhere behind the waterfalls, trudge upwards to have a look at the falls from up above and search the land for the treasure. Folk lores are entwined with nature’s beauties everywhere in Iceland. And the beauty mesmerizes you and lifts up your spirits even on a cold and damp day like the one we were having.
It was half past six in the evening, the sun was preparing to call it a day and so were we. It was time to locate our new address for our next two nights. As we turned our cars towards the direction of VIK, we had called the owner of our cottage but his phone didn’t connect. We drove about half an hour to reach Vestri Peutersey, and after a bit of driving around we located our cottage. Vestri Peutersey , is a small village about 20 kms before the town of VIK. The owner soon could contact us and came to meet us in front of our cottages.
Our Cottage at Vestri Petersey :
The cottages lay at the base of a couple of low lying mountains bordering the Petersey village, which consisted of about 15 houses and a couple of farms. Bordering the horizon half around the backside of the wooden cottages where we were staying, we could see small undulating mountains. The south side looked flat and blank as we understood that should be the Atlantic Ocean. Our host worked on the same farm. And he said that he owned the land far up-to the Ocean. That’s about 200 hectares of land for a farmworker !!
A very nice setting, closely set cottages, each complete with two bedrooms, a living area, an open kitchen and a washroom all spotlessly clean. We hauled our bags and set out our necessities and we were elated.. The phones needed to be charged and so was the camera. One of us jacked a speaker and started to play a few songs. There were wonderful colours in the sky as the clouds parted a little to allow us a quick look at the sunset. We warmed ourselves while the smell of brewing coffee made it feel comforting. The kitchenette was small but well decked and we soon planned for our dinner. The room heaters were up and soon the feeling of wetness vanished. There was a complete silence around, except for the mooing of cows or bleating of lambs coming from the farm nearby. The wooden house felt remarkably warm and cozy.
It was time to unpack, we were to stay a couple of days here. Time to stretch our legs, walk around the cottage where it opened up onto a wooden deck and a porch. As I stood there, sipping from my mug of coffee and having a smoke, looking over the hills and the undulating blanket of snow and lichens around it felt perfect. Iceland was proving to be exceptionally beautiful and its nature , harsh and foreboding captivates you and enthralls you at the same time. I felt jealous of all the souls who had the privilege to live in the midst of such delightful and beautiful nature. I felt sad that we would have to leave such a picturesque country in about a week from now.
Its time to uncork the bottle of Bremenin ” Black Death”.