I Did A Day Tour of Southern Iceland; This Is What It Consisted Of
I’m not really sold on big group coach tours, much preferring to do my own thing. But y’know, sometimes needs must, and this was a good way of seeing Southern Iceland on a budget.
The first stop on my tour of Southern Iceland was at the stunning Seljalandsfoss waterfall as we headed south from Reykjavik. The waterfall stands proud at 65 metres tall, and you will definitely get wet on the misty path that approaches it.
The waterfall is one of the most popular sights in Iceland, and is one of the countries most photographed features.
A pathway circles all the way around the waterfall, which allows you to experience it from every angle. Be warned though, the rocky pathway can get pretty wet and slippery.
It’s really cool to walk behind the falling water, and really get up close and personal with Seljalandsfoss. There’s so few waterfalls in the world where the cavern behind it cascades into the rockface enough to allow this to be a possibility. I was honestly loving every minute of this experience!
The next stop was the Eyjafjallajokull Glacier, which is where the water that runs through the Seljalandsfoss waterfall originates from. The water melts from the glacier and feeds down to the Seljalandsa river, which runs down into the Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
Even though it doesn’t look like it, Eyjafjallajokull is one of Iceland’s smaller icecaps. It’s also a stratovolcano. In fact it’s the stratovolcano that caused all of Europe’s air traffic to be grounded for a week when it erupted in 2011. Clearly, they don’t call Iceland the Land of Fire and Ice for nothing.
The ice cap of Eyjafjallajokull covers an area of around 100 square kilometers. But it’s receding at a rapid pace. In fact, due to global warming, every single one of Iceland’s glaciers is sadly melting at an unprecedented scale, so that’s something to think about…
The final stop on the tour was the town of Vik, a remote village with a population of just over 300 people. It’s the only settlement for a distance of 50km, which really drives its solitude home. Its unconventional beach is often cited as being one of the most beautiful – albeit unique – in the world.
Reynisfjara Beach has an enchanting charcoal black coast, which is battered constantly by the raging Atlantic Ocean. Most of Iceland’s 130 volcanoes are still active today, which causes black sand beaches through volcanic ashes. When molten lava interacts with cold water, the lava cools so quickly that it breaks down into sand. Reynisfjara Beach is a stones-throw away from a volcano that has been quite active over the last thousand years, but as of late has been dormant.
The columnar joints (above) are also caused by volcanic activity. They are formed when lava cools down quickly. This, in turn, causes the rock to recoil from the edges making symmetrical shapes.
The columns of ballast that sit just past the shore are the subject of lots of Icelandic folklore. Folklore like this is intrinsic with Icelandic culture. One of the stories goes that these ballast stacks were once trolls trying to grab ships from the sea and beach them on the shore. One day, the trolls were caught by morning light thus turning them to stone.
Whilst my mind is unchanged that group tours aren’t really my thing, it was definitely cost-effective and I had a really enjoyable time. Personally, I like to do things independently at my own pace, choosing what I want to do whenever I want. I really would go back to Iceland though, I’ve barely even scratched the surface of this beautiful country! I’d also do this tour of Southern Iceland again, seeing all of these amazing wonders only once just isn’t enough. If you’re interested in doing the tour that I did, you can find it here.