Day 2,033 of Traveling the World | Southwest Coast of Iceland | August 23, 2023

Waterfalls! Glaciers! Mountaintop snow and ice! Black sand beach! Basalt formations! Our tour to the South Coast, south of Reykjavik, had it all! What an exciting day.

Our drive along the coast had endless ocean on the right side and volcanic mountains inland, on the left. Everything was lush and gree, as so much rain comes through the North Atlantic. Most homes and little villages were nestled at the foothill of the mountains, as you can see so clearly in the first photo.

Our first official stop was Skogafoss Waterfall, where rainbows are ever-present, and getting sprayed with water due to the shifting winds is part of the experience. There is a long, long staircase adjacent to the waterfall to climb to the top, but the view up there is just a glimpse of the Skogafoss River, which falls over the cliff in front of your eyes – except you don’t see it as a waterfall from there, just water disappearing over the edge. It was quite beautiful.

Our next stop was Reynisfjara Beach, a black-sand beach where there warnings everywhere about “sneaker waves,” aka killer waves. They arrive without warning and kill people by violently sweeping them out to sea. There is even a sign warning of which kind of alert you are facing by venturing too close to the water (the photo below explains it). This beach also has stunning six-sided basalt columns and basalt caves, with rock formations in the water. Quite an interesting place!

We stopped for photos in a small village called Vik i Myrdal, a small coastal town noted for having no harbor. The views of the ocean from our elevated viewpoint was very pretty. The glacier, Solheimajokull, was up next. It was quite a hike from the parking lot to the actual start of the glacier, since it has retreated significantly in recent years., and likely will become extinct due to rising temperatures. There were several tours wearing helmets and pitons, and carrying ice axes, as they were climbing the glacier. We were able to walk up to the edge and touch it, which was thrilling in and of itself.

Our last attraction was the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. It was remarkable in that there is a path behind the waterfall to experience it from all sides. The walk was quite treacherous, with slippery boulders – yes, boulders, not rocks – to climb over and down at two different points. There is a very wet and grimy rope to hold onto, but it all felt very unsafe. But my, oh my, the reward! It was exhilarating to see the waterfall from behind and get hit with some waterfall drops. When it was time to get back to dry land, however, we discovered that we had to walk through a waterfall downpour – the only way out. We had rain jackets on, so our feet and jackets got soaked, but there some in our group with no protections who were just dripping. It was a lot of fun – we are glad we both decided to walk through.

The day on the bus was long – 12 hours – but was one of the best tours we ever did. The guide explained what was coming up as we drove, and at every stop we were free to explore and go where we wished. All we had to do was watch the time so that we didn’t hold up the group. Magnificent day!

One of the villages along the way, nestled…
Another village – you can see the snow on the mountain above them.
Such a green place! This mountain and stream made lovely companions.
Our first glimpse of Skogafoss Waterfall from the main road.
Up close, that rainbow on the left was always there.
At the top of the waterfall, a little maneuvering got us a photo of the water heading over the cliff – and another rainbow.
The staircase was pretty steep and long.
This is the black beach with the basalt formations.
Up close, they are amazing – and people were scrambling to climb them so their friends could take a basalt photo! The columns form during the lava cooling process, with the joints perpendicular to the cooling surface.
The columns form these small caves in some areas.
There were even rock formations in the water.
Here is the sign with the warning alert system for sneaker waves.
These folks were floating over the black sand beach.
This is just the mid-afternoon sun on the black sand (not even sunset yet!).
A group hiking the glacier!
Another group, far across the crevasse.
Some leftover ice floes, out near the parking lot. This is perhaps one-half mile from where the glacier starts today.
The glorious Seljalandsfoss Waterfall.
This is on the path approaching the rear, and we actually walked through the rainbow you see. No, we did NOT find a pot of gold!
This is the view behind the waterfall.
Just coming out from behind the waterfall, the sun came out, and it was other-worldly.
One last view, as it was so surreal. Amen!

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