For our final blog on Iceland, we are bringing you some of our adventures in video so you can get an even better appreciation of the beauty of Iceland. I hope you enjoy it.
Kirkjufell, or ‘Church Mountain’, is a distinctly shaped peak found on the north shore of Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula, only a short distance away from the town of Grundarfjörður. It is often called the most photographed mountain in Iceland due to its dramatic formation and perfect coastal location. Several Game of Thrones scenes were filmed in this location.
If you start your tour of Iceland in Reykjavik, this will probably be the first waterfall you encounter — an iconic multi-step cascade along a 90° bend of the Hvitá River.
You might recognize the waterfall when you arrive as Gullfoss has been used as a filming location for several blockbusters and popular TV series. It was used as a backdrop for the TV series Lost in Space and in the popular Vikings TV series.
The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is part of the river Seljalandsá, and has its origins underneath the glacier Eyjafjallajökull. The volcano beneath this ice cap erupted in 2010 and caused havoc at airports across Europe.
The cascade of the falls is relatively narrow but falls from a tall cliff that once marked the country’s coastline, the sea is now located across a stretch of lowlands and is visible from the site.
This waterfall flows from 200 feet above and you can walk behind it if you don’t mind getting a little wet.
Legend has it that a Viking named Thrasi hid a chest of gold beneath the falls. Many have attempted to retrieve it, and one man almost succeeded by tying a rope to the handle of the chest and pulling. He was only able to obtain the ring of the chest, however; now, it’s said, the ring is attached to a church door in the small village of Skógar.
As we walked towards the waterfall, wind grew to about 50 mph and it was difficult to keep grounded.
Vík í Mýrdal
With a population of 300 inhabitants and no towns or settlements for at least 50 km in each direction, the small village of Vik is a perfect town for a sunset. The beautiful black beach Reynisdrangar rises majestically out of the Atlantic Ocean and in the distance you can see black basalt-lava columns sculpted by the sea. The story is that they are former trolls which were caught outside at dawn – trolls could not see the sunlight, then they would turn into stone.
Iceland has spectacular canyons, one of which is Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon in South-Iceland. Fjaðrárgljúfur is a canyon with a serpent-like shape and was not well-known to visitors to Iceland until a few years ago. Justin Bieber was influential in introducing Fjaðrárgljúfur to other travelers, as he shot parts of his video “I’ll show you” in the canyon, and in other beautiful locations in South-Iceland during his Iceland visit back in 2015.
We saw the Aurora Borealis 4 times during our 12 day stay in Iceland, this was in Southern Iceland in Kirkjubaejarklaustur. The night skies lit up in spectacular green, swirling beyond belief. Our tour guide, Stefano, said that someone in our group must have excellent karma because normally they don’t experience the Northern Lights in this way.
Amid misty glaciers and snow-capped mountains on Iceland’s southern coast, Fagurholsmyri is a beautiful agricultural county. It features mesmerizing glacial lagoons, an ice cave and the country’s highest mountain. We hiked this area to discover a flowing waterfall among serrated rock.
Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon
Film buffs will recognize Jökulsárlón from huge movie hits like Tomb Raider, Batman Begins, and 2 James Bond films: A View to a Kill and Die Another Day. It’s not surprising why famous directors would choose this amazing location as a backdrop! We took Zodiac to visit the icebergs, it was amazing!
A short drive from Jökulsárlón is Diamond Beach – a black sand beach with a shoreline dotted with clumps of ice that shimmer in the light, ranging from perplexingly clear gems to a deep, blue hue. These ice shards broke off from a nearby glacier, floated down the stretching Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, and came to rest on Diamond Beach. They make for the perfect addition to an already stunning sea view. We made it here at sunset and got some amazing photos.
The Eastfjords of Iceland is a 75 mile stretch of coastline from Berufjörður, in the south, to the small fishing village of Borgarfjörður Eystri in the north.
East Iceland has many narrow fjords, surrounded by steep cliffs flanked by fishing villages. The East Fjords have fantastic scenery, remote fishing villages, sparkling lakes, dense forests and traditional farms and has the sunniest weather in the country.
This area is famous for herds of wild reindeer – the only place in the country where reindeer live. Initially brought over for farming, the industry was never lucrative, and they have roamed free ever since. We saw reindeer in this area and it was my first ever sighting.
Dettifoss waterfall is one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe. It was a cold and windy trek to the waterfall but we were greeted with circular rainbows.
The thunderous fall has an average water flow of 6,186 cubic feet per second. It is 330 feet wide and plummets 150 feet down into Jökulsárgljúfur canyon.
This canyon is in the northern part of the greater Vatnajökull National Park, the largest national park in the country, thus Dettifoss is well protected.
Námafjall Geothermal Area
The Námafjall Geothermal Area is located in Northeast Iceland, on the east side of Lake Mývatn. Here you will see many smoking fumaroles and boiling mud pots, surrounded by sulphur crystals of many different colours. This sulphur gives the area an overwhelming smell of rotten eggs.
Around the area is a small hiking trail up to Námaskarð pass and Námafjall mountain, which returns to the highway and the parking lot. In 1969 a geothermal power plant was built west of the Námafjall area.
Vogafjós Farm Resort
This restaurant is so unique, it deserves a video. It is located in the Lake Mývatn area but what makes it unique (other than the good food) is that it has a cow feeding area connected to the restaurant and you can see the cows through wall sized windows. Once you’re done eating, you can go out and pet the cows — very cool experience!
Dimmuborgir, commonly referred to as the Black Fortress, is a dramatic expanse of lava in the Lake Mývatn area of Iceland and is the home of the 13 Christmas Santas (called Yule Lads).
In Icelandic culture, lava caves are allegedly the homes of the nation’s brutal and vile trolls. The most famous was Grýla and her husband Leppalúði. Grýla and her gigantic pet cat, that would eat children over the Christmas period for not finishing their weaving, knitting and sewing chores before season end.
Grýla and Leppalúði had 13 sons who lived in Dimmuborgir and are now known as the ‘Icelandic Santa Clauses’ or Yule Lads. On the 13 nights before Christmas, these trolls come one by one to terrorize Icelandic children, each with their own strategy after which they were named. For example, Window-Peeper would stare into houses, looking for things to steal while Skyr-Gobbler would steal children’s skyr. Skyr is a tasty dessert similar to cake.
The Yule Lads were probably invented to keep children from going out into the cold Icelandic winter nights, where many disappeared without a trace for centuries. More recently, the legend has changed as they now wear Santa costumes instead of traditional Icelandic wear and now bring gifts. But they steal skyr — who can resist?
Goðafoss, or “waterfall of the gods” was called this because in the year 1000, Porgeir Ljosventningagodi made Christianity the religion of Iceland and threw all of his pagan god statues into the waterfall. We were lucky to catch several rainbows around the falls.
Akureyri Whale Watching
We decided to go whale watching but knew it would be difficult to impress us since we had seen lots of humpback whales during our trip to Antarctica a few years ago, but that was premature. This excursion was not part of our Globe Drifters agenda but a few fellow travelers joined us.
In less than 30 minutes, we started seeing whales in all directions. They were coming up for air then doing a deep dive leaving only their tails in the air as they descend. We must have seen 30 or more whales — the whale spotter said this was the most whales they’ve seen in a long time. We have a lot of yogis in our group — so definitely great Karma going around for us to be able to see Northern Lights and an abundance of whales.
Beer Baths in Árskógssandur
You’ve never soaked your buns in beer? You don’t know what you’re missing! This restaurant and craft brewery allows patrons to soak for 30 minutes in the good stuff. I’ll spare you from seeing us in the spa but I can tell you it’s very relaxing!
Hraunfossar Waterfall in West Iceland, believed to have formed in about 800 AD just before settlers arrived in Iceland. The falls are formed by surface water and melting glaciers that run between lava layers, giving the water a silky light blue hue. This was my favorite waterfall in Iceland.
If you get a chance to go to Reykjavik, visit the Sky Bar where you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the bay.
Here is a quick recap of our tour:
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