72 Hours On Iceland’s South Coast

Driving back to the rental car company after we found out our headlights weren’t working!

After 4.5 days in Iceland we had explored Reykjavik and hiked both the Laugavegur and Fimmvorduhals trails. We finished in Skogar shortly after noon, and then had to wait around a while to catch a bus back to Reykjavik. That trip took a couple of hours, and once back at the BSI bus station John and Justin walked over and picked up our rental car while Eric and myself watched our bags. At this point it was about 6pm and we had a little less than ~72 hours to be tourists before we had to be back at the airport…. Let’s Do This! 

 

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Things didn’t start off as well as we would have liked. As we left the city is was just getting dark and when we tried turning on our lights… they didn’t. Good think we picked up a Icelandic SIM card. We called the rental company and after trying to figure out what was wrong at a gas station we eventually gave up and drove through the dark back into town. 

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The guys at the rental company got us right in, and after swapping out the lamps for new ones everything seemed okie dokie. At this point we had lost a few hours, missed our chance to stop at the grocery store, and now had to make a few adjustments to our itinerary. We ended up stopping at a gas station to grab dinner and some food for the morning, and then camping just down the road from Seljalandsfoss. 

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Here the guys are in the morning… At this point we had ~60 hours before it was airport time. In the background you can see the Gljúfrabúi Waterfall. This is the much cooler hidden neighbor to Seljalandsfoss and should definitely be checked out if you’re in the area. 

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Mmmm…. Gas station bacon! 

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This is Fjaðrárgljúfur it’s a small canyon and beautiful stop… Though this wasn’t the next place we visited. Before this we stopped at Dyrhólaey and in VIk but it was raining and I didn’t pictures worth sharing. Both of these places are definitely worth stopping at though. 

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After Fjaðrárgljúfur… It was on to Jokulsarlon. This is the iceberg lagoon and we arrived just as the sun was getting low in the sky. We ended up spending the bulk of our evening exploring this area. 

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Here you can see one of the tourist cruises making its way back. 

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Tourists on the lagoon side of the bridge. This is a popular destination and I don’t imagine there is ever a time when you would find yourself alone here. 

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Justin on the ocean side of the bridge on our way to explore the area where the lagoon dumps into the ocean. 

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If you ever have the chance to check out Jokulsarlon don’t miss the beach. This is where you will find hundreds of ice chunks sitting on a black sand beach after being polished by the waves. It’s by far the most photogenic area and is worth exploring if you have a camera in tow. 

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Other photographers and tourists exploring and looking for that perfect shot!

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Justin and John looking serious. This is no time to play! The sun is going down and we must find the perfectly situation piece of sparkly ice, black sand, sun, and waves!

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Me getting a little too close, and not paying quite enough attention to what the ocean was doing. 

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Eric working the beach! 

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Some wave action! 

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Getting low! 

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Here’s another piece of ice with a hole in it. What should we do with this? 

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Tourists… 

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The bridge that spans the outlet connecting the lagoon to the ocean. After killing the final bit of light it was time to start making our way back towards Reykjavik. From Jokulsarlon we drove back west and stopped to camp near Skaftafell national park which we planned to explore in the morning. 

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Here you can see Justin in blue on our way to check out one of the tongues of the Vatnajokull glacier. 

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We happened to bring some microspikes just in case we found ourselves on a glacier, and here you can see Justin exploring a glacial tongue in Skaftafell national park.

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A closer look… We didn’t wander too far onto the ice. Our microspikes didn’t provide nearly as much purchase as we’d have liked. And, it’s hard to tell in the photo was it was windy as hell and raining. If we had the right gear it would have been super fun to explore further. 

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Next up was Sólheimasandur where you can find a old DC 3 plane wreck out by it’s lonesome on an enormous black sand beach. We ended up parking along the road and walking the ~4km or so into the wreck. If old wrecks are your thing it’s pretty cool, but if not I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. 

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When we arrived there were people crawling all over the thing and a couple having their wedding photos taken. This image with relatively few people in the frame took some creative cropping and good timing. 

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After Sólheimasandur, we hiked into Seljavallalaug. This is a super picturesque hot pool near Skogar. When we started the short hike in it was getting late, the temps were in the low 40’s, it was raining, and there was some wind. These are perfect conditions for a good outdoor hot spring soak. Unfortunately, the pool wasn’t all that hot. It was warm, but barely. Be warned! Once back at the car we headed for Hveragerði where we found a campsite for the evening. 

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The next day we had to be at the airport around 1pm, so we spent a lazy morning cooking up a feast and then hiked into some natural hot springs at Reykjadalur for a soak. This area is great, though it’s apparently become very popular since the last time we were here. This time there were boardwalks and changing barriers. I’m sure they are just trying to reduce the destructive force of tourists on the land, but it’s kind of a shame as the area lost its natural feel. Still worth it though, but get their early. 

Well… that’s about it. If you’re short on time the south coast of Iceland is where it’s at. The amount of cool stuff to see is incredible and even if you had a week you’d be hard pressed to do it all justice. 

Enjoy! 

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