The fourth day of our road trip to Iceland should become the longest, but also one of the most rewarding ones. Within 500 km on the road we started in the city of Vik and made all the way up to the glacier lagoon stopping by another glacier, the famous black sand beach and (of course) yet another waterfall. In the evening we returned again to our accommodation in Vik.
The first stop of the day was the Sólheimajökull glacier tongue. Connected to the Mýrdalsjökull glacier covering the top of the active volcano Katla, it is part of the second largest ice shield in Iceland. Even though the last eruption of the volcano was in the beginning of the last century, volcanologist expect a major eruption to happen in the near future. First evidence for this happened in 2014, when the area around the volcano and especially the glacier had to be evacuated for a week due to high seismic activity.
Dyrhólaey & The Black Sand Beach
At the southernmost point of Iceland, the coast is unique. Already on the first day from the plane we saw the steep cliffs, black beaches and high waves. Three days later we were there for real – and we were impressed. The cliffs of the peninsula Dyrhólaey were as high as houses and as sharp as if they were cut with a knife. At one point they even formed a natural archway. The powerful waves were broken by rock formations outside the coastline and smoothly ended up on the black sand, that originates from volcanic stone.
Dyrhólaey is a truly magical place and I could stay there for hours watching the waves fighting against the coastline. Further down we could even access the several hundred meter long black sand beach. While trying not to get wet, we walked in between the waves and the cliff watching birds breeding in the rocks. Enjoy the atmosphere of Dyrhólaey in the following video.
The Black Waterfall Svartifoss
The next stop on our journey was the Black Waterfall Svartifoss. After an hour walk through the mountainous landscape of the Skaftafell national park, we arrived at the waterfall, that you can see on the picture on the right. It is named after the black basalt columns that it is surrounded by. These columns can be found all over Iceland, but here at Svartifoss it was particularly nice to see them in a negative inclination together with a waterfall.
Do you remember the big church in Reykjavík from our first day? Its design is inspired by exactly these basalt columns – and seeing them in the nature was more rewarding than seeing them on a building.
On the way back we took a little detour to have an amazing panoramic view around the southern part of Iceland. From a hill we could spot Vatnajökull glacier, the largest glacier in Iceland covering around 8% of the island’s surface.
Due to increased volcanic activity, but mainly due to climate change the volume of the glacier is reducing constantly. Since the beginning of the 19th century the volume of Vatnajökull has decreased by 10%, which contributed 1 mm to the global increase in sea level – just by one glacier! Seeing the beauty of the glacier and knowing about the effects of climate change should remind us that our nature is delicate.
The Glacier Lagoon Jökulsárlón
Maybe the most impressive stop of the day was our visit to the glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón. The 250 m deep lake is located at the southern border of Vatnajökull glacier in the east of Iceland. Parts of the glacier have fallen into the lagoon and now float around as icebergs with heights up to 15 m.
Never having seen icebergs before it was very impressive to see them bob up and down in the water. The color of the ice was either deep blue, which is the natural color of ice, or grayish, caused by volcanic ash enclosed inside.
For a short time we were even lucky to spot seals swimming in between the icebergs. Apart from seagulls they are the only inhabitants around the glacier.
The Story Continues…
The way back home and it was already dark, when we returned to our accommodation. But before we went there, we had to make a short stop at Skógafoss Waterfall. A waterfall looks a lot better on a picture with a long exposure time, which is of course best possible in the late evening or night. Thanks to my great travel mates, who joined me, I could take the picture on the right. Due to the very long exposure time of 60 s (it was really dark), there is some noise, but still it looks nice.
Stay tuned for two more days from our road trip in Iceland by liking my Facebook page!