Today, our journey takes us east along the Eyjafjöll mountain range to the Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls. Along the way, we’ll see the infamous Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which shut down Europe’s air space for a few days in 2010, and we’ll drive through the vast sand flats of Myrdalsjökull glacier and the vast lava fields of Eldhraun.
Our first stop is Seljalandsfoss waterfall, unique because you can walk behind the falling water. Stand behind the 60-meter-high waterfall and make a secret wish as you view the world through the watery wall.
Then, we kick the action into higher gear to get even closer to Iceland’s nature and go for a snowmobiling tour on Myrdalsjokull Glacier, the second largest ice cap in Iceland after Vatnajokull. The highest point of the ice cap is about 1,450 meters above sea level.
Close by is another beauty, Skogafoss Waterfall with water running from Eyjafjallajokull. It plunges from the cliffs of the former coastline. At 18 stories high, this majestic waterfall is one of the most visited sites in Iceland and for good reason, legend says that a treasure is buried beneath it.
As we continue our journey towards the Eldhraun Lava Field, we’ll explore the world-famous Reynisfjara shore near the village of Vik, ranked in 1991 as one of the ten most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world. The black sand beach also features an amazing cliff of regular basalt columns resembling a rocky step pyramid, which is called Gardar. Out in the sea are the spectacularly shaped basalt sea stacks Reynisdrangar. Legend says that the stacks originated when two trolls dragged a three-masted ship to land unsuccessfully and when daylight broke they became needles of rock. (WARNING: Do not turn your back at the sea. The waves are bigger and more powerful than they look.)
The flat, sandy coast will be our companion for a while, but soon we’ll start driving through lava fields… one after another. You may want to try practicing the pronunciation of “hraun” (which means lava) with your guide, as we’ll pass by several. First, we’ll pass through the Eldgjárhraun lava field, located east of Vik, and then the vast Eldhraun lava field, created from the eruption at Lakagigar in year 1783. This eruption lasted eight months and affected climate change over all of Europe. It is one of the greatest eruptions in recorded history and is the largest of its kind in the world.
Our journey ends today in the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur (Icelandic for “church farm cloister”), a small village with about 120 inhabitants. Even before the time of the first Norse settlement in Iceland, Irish monks are thought to have lived here. Folk tales illustrate the history with stories about good and sinful nuns. The Systrastapi (sister’s rock) is where two of the convent’s nuns were buried after being burned at the stake. One of the nuns was accused of selling her soul to the Devil, carrying Communion bread outside the church, and having carnal knowledge with men; the other was charged with speaking blasphemously of the Pope. After the Reformation, the second sister was vindicated, and flowers are said to bloom on her grave, but not that of the first nun. Systravatn also has a legend relating to the convent. The nuns traditionally bathed in the lake, and one day two nuns saw a hand with a gold ring extending from the water when they tried to seize the ring, they were dragged below the water and drowned.
Our hotel tonight is also the perfect location for viewing the Northern Lights, if conditions permit.
–Reynisfjara Black Beach
–Lava Fields of Eldhraun
Estimated travel time: 3 hours
Overnight at Hotel Geirland or similar