In my last post, I left off in Hveragerði, soaking in the hot tubs overlooking the geothermal hillside.
The next morning, Azim and I enjoyed the complimentary breakfast and then headed off to see two waterfalls and the black sand beach. This was Azim’s favourite part of the trip. We were fortunate enough again to have nice weather – it meant we had many hours of daylight to drive to each site, and also enjoyed the views without freezing into icicles. I highly recommend waterproof gear if you’ll be making the visit to Iceland’s waterfalls! There’s a good chance you’ll get soaked if you get close enough!
We started off with Sjelandafoss – a waterfall that flows over a sort of cave, so visitors can actually walk behind the falls. I had originally felt silly for making a trip to the Bay prior to our vacation to buy all sorts of “outdoorsy” clothing, but boy, was I ever glad I did as I slipped around the trails at this waterfall. My hiking boots and waterproof outfit kept me warm, dry, and in one piece. Walking behind the falls was the best part of this stop, and a must-do for anyone visiting.
Our next stop was Azim’s favourite waterfall, and possible the highlight of his trip – it was AWESOME. There is no other word that can describe it. Getting close to the base of the waterfall was a rush – it was so loud, and the water was so powerful. Azim had on his heavy-duty jacket and he ventured closer than anyone else would (it looked like he jumped in a lake afterward, but the pictures were pretty sweet). We climbed the rickety stairway on the hill beside the waterfall, which lead up to the top and the river beyond. We managed to make our way up, but it was SO windy we almost blew over a few times. It was pretty scary! Not for the faint of heart.
After Skogafoss we drove to Reynisfjara – the black sand beach. This was my favourite part of the day, and a highlight of the trip for me. I climbed up and took pictures on the basalt columns (legend says that the stacks originated when two trolls dragged a ship to land unsuccessfully and when daylight broke they became needles of rock). We watched the adorable puffins hurl themselves from the cliffs and fly over the waves, and spotted some seals who were playing hide and seek with us. The rocky cliffs were truly impressive, and the huge stones jutting from the water were unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It was the kind of sight that makes you forget about everything else – nature is magnificent.
For GoT fans – Reynisfjara is a season 7 location, and serves as the sea by the The Wall at the Eastwatch-by-the-sea.
After Reynisfjara we drove to Dyrholaey. This nature reserve has views of more natural stone formations, and is home to lots and lots of puffins! The wind was very strong, so we couldn’t get too close to the puffins for pictures, but we had a great time walking along the lookout points and admiring the water, black sand below, and puffins flying all around.
On our way back to the hotel we stopped at Skogafoss AGAIN – Azim loved it so much he wanted to go back and climb the rickety stairway to the top once more. I enjoyed the view from the bottom of the waterfall while Azim went back up and explored.
After that we headed back to Frost and Fire. I fell asleep at 9PM, and Azim planned out our next day.
Day 4 – Borgarnes and Arnarstapi
We (sadly) checked out of Frost and Fire (after another huge breakfast) and made the 3-hour drive to the Snæfellsnes peninsula.
Along the way we stopped in the town of Borgarnes where we visited the Settlement museum and learned about the Vikings and first settlers of Iceland. Azim hated it (he’s not a museum type of person), and to be honest I found it to be quite underwhelming as well. I would advise others to skip this, although it was a good way to break up the 3-hour drive, and we did a successful grocery shopping trip at the local Bonus.
The drive from Borgarnes to Arnarstapi in the Snæfellsnes peninsula was one of the most scenic I’ve ever experienced. There were waterfalls every which way, horses and sheep grazing on vast plains, mountains in the distance, and winding roads. With the perfect playlist, the journey was just as wonderful as the destination.
We arrived in Arnarstapi in the afternoon and immediately set out on a hike along the rocky cliffs to Hellnar. The cliffs are covered in lava rock formations, and really made me feel like we were in a Star Wars movie. It was also sunny, warm, and beautiful – perfect hiking conditions! The view out onto the water was spectacular because we were able to walk right out onto the very edge of the cliffs. I loved every moment of it. We took some impressive pictures over an arch (I had to elbow some other instagrammers out of the way) and worked up an appetite.
Our last stop of the day was the Djúpalónssandur Black Lava Pearl Beach – we only stopped here briefly to check out the lava fields and the beach, since our dear friends would be getting married there the next day!! I concluded that I packed completely inappropriately and would have to pair my evening dress with hiking boots and a sweater on top. It ended up being not so bad.
After a peek at Djúpalónssandur we checked into our B&B in Grundarfjordur, a small fishing village with an impressive view of Kirkjufell mountain and waterfall. Kirkjufell is full of history and lore – more of which I will detail in my next post! Stay tuned!