Iceland – March 23, 2016 (Day 7)

Day 7 Drive Map (click to view the day’s route)

Day 7 driving was relatively a short one – about 80 miles from Country Hotel Anna in Hvolsvöllur to the Farmhouse Lodge, Vik where we stayed for 2 nights.

We started early at around 730 am and drove back to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. Tip: Get to the Falls early and there is nobody and you will have the beautiful landscape just for yourself. Tourist buses don’t seem to show up before 830am especially if they are coming from Reykjavik. 2 other couples showed up for about 15 minutes.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall 2
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

While I was photographing, my trio of cousins took a terrific walk behind the falls and they totally enjoyed the experience. After spending about 45 minutes, we returned to Hotal Anna for breakfast. After breakfast, we shot a few pictures of the beautiful church in front of the hotel before driving eastward towards Vik.

Ásólfsskálakirkja (Hotel Anna)
Ásólfsskálakirkja (in front of Hotel Anna) (63°34’17” N 19°47’49” W)

Our first stop was rather brief at the Eyjafjallajökull Visitor Center right on Route 1. It was closed. I assume it is only open in the summer. As it was bit less cloudy, we were able to see and photograph the volcano.

Eyjafjallajökull Glacier
Eyjafjallajökull (63°32’34” N 19°39’47” W)

Then we drove to Skógafoss and reached at around 10am. It was a zoo with a zillion tourist buses. I can’t even imagine how this place would be in the summer. Tip: Visit all major waterfalls just after sunrise when there is nobody. We spent 10 minutes, took some casual images and decided to return the next day early morning to experience it in all its glory. Below is one of the casual images taken that day and you can see the crowd behind me. Contrast this with the image taken from the same spot next day early morning in the Day 8 of this diary!!!

Murali @ Skógafoss 2
@ Skógafoss (63°31’52” N 19°30’44” W)

We hit the Solheimajokull Glacier. What a landscape? It was overwhelming. A huge number of tourists were starting on their Glacier walk. As we did not have the time, we just watched them climb for a few minutes, walked around the area and continued our drive towards Vik. Note the 3 groups of climbers in the image below. If you are interested in doing a glacier walk, you should definitely add this to your bucket list.

Solheimajokull Glacier 2
Solheimajokull Glacier (63°32’0″ N 19°21’22” W)

There is a plane wreck called Solheimasandur Plane Wreck near the Ring Road a bit east of the turnoff to the Solheimajokull Glacier but we missed it. I have seen some good pictures of it. You may want to check it out.

We reached the Farmhouse Lodge at around 1pm. Although the checkin time was 4pm, they were kind enough to dump our luggage in our rooms. We then drove to Vik for lunch. There are 2 good restaurants we tried and both were good. One was only open at 6pm and so we decided to hit Halldorskaffi. It was a cozy place but was packed including a big photography tour group. As the 4 of us are vegetarians, we had the mushroom soup and pizza. Both were excellent. I highly recommend the place and in fact, we stopped here on March 28 (Day 12) on our way back from Hofn to Keflavik.

After a good lunch, we walked around the Vik Church (yes, it was also locked) and then drove to Reynisfjara (a black sand beach) to see the basalt columns and Reynisdrangar sea stacks. Both were just amazing.

WARNING: The waves at Reynisfjara are especially strong and unpredictable, and fatal accidents have occurred at this beach, so people are advised to take extra care when visiting the area. In Feb 2016, a man was swept out to the ocean. If I had known this, I wouldn’t have taken the first image below!!!

Reynisdrangar (63°24’9″ N 19°6’14” W)
Reynisdrangar & Basalt Columns
Reynisdrangar & Basalt Columns

The next stop was Dyrhólaey (formerly known as “Cape Portland”). It was formerly an island of volcanic origin.The view from up there is majestic: To the north is to be seen the massive Mýrdalsjökull glacier. To the east, you can see black lava columns of the Reynisdrangar and the Reynisfjara black sand beach. In front (facing south), there is a gigantic black arch of lava standing in the sea, which gave the peninsula its name (meaning: the hill-island with the door-hole). When we were there just before sunset, huge waves were thrashing the shoreline and once in a while for a second or so, you could see a rainbow.

Dyrhólaey with Reynisdrangar in the background (63°23’57” N 19°7’37” W)
Dyrhólaey 2
The arch in front of Dyrhólaey

On our way back to our guesthouse, we took a small pit stop at the Reyniskirkja church. As it was locked, we couldn’t go inside but the view from the outside was just amazing.

Reyniskirkja (63°25’8″ N 19°2’55” W)

No Aurora Boralis tonight as it was very cloudy, the Kp index was just a 1 and we were too tired to drive around chasing one. Bala cooked dinner in the Guesthouse kitchen and we all had a good meal. The two managers of the guesthouse were super helpful and friendly. They washed our clothes, dried, and folded them. Huge thanks to them. Wi-Fi was quite fast as well. We did some emails, planned the activities for Day 8 and went to bed at around 1030pm.

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