This blog is the 2nd part of a series! If you want to read our arrival to Iceland and our first day there, be sure to check out my previous post here.
We woke up from our hotel just outside Reykjavik, had some quick breakfast provided by the hotel, packed up the car and hit the road to head toward Vik for our next stop.
But of course this was a road trip! So lots of stops were planned along the way. And the first one on the list was the waterfall Seljalandsfoss. Even though it was raining, cold, and windy, the atmosphere created some amazing texture to be photographed 🙂 Although, if my camera had a voice, I’m pretty sure I would have heard it complaining and crying the entire time from how wet it got. It’s a little trooper that thing ❤
The entire south of Iceland is basically waterfall country. Well, come to think of it, all of Iceland seems to be waterfall country! I saw more waterfalls there than I have all of my entire life. Everywhere you turn there are waterfalls peaking over the beautiful ridges and valleys that span across the beautiful terrain that makes up the island and because we were experiencing so much rain, all of them were flowing heavily and full of vibrance. So when we hit the road once again, we only traveled a few more miles for our next stop, which was another powerful and amazing waterfall known as Skógafoss. I was particularly excited to see this one.
When the rain started up heavily again, we headed back to the car where we had a picnic. Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches fueled us through the trip and I have to admit, Icelandic bread is kind of the best. And we really needed the fuel for our next little adventure for the day.
While on our way to Vik, we took a little detour 3 miles off road to a beach that made it look like we landed on the moon. It’s a good thing we rented a 4×4 for this because the rocky surface made it extremely uncomfortable for my pregnant self. But the result was totally worth it.
I researched online about an abandoned airplane crash in the south of Iceland that a lot of photographers utilize during their travels there. Weather made it extremely hard to get out and photograph since we had winds whipping us and our car around at about 30-40 miles an hour smacking cold, arctic rain against our faces, and in general made it hard to even stand. We tried to wait out the weather for a while and some people that had also made their way there but it seemed as though it was getting worse and sunlight was starting to close in on the day. So, I covered up my camera the best that I could and made my way out in it all.
This plane is known as the Solheimasandur Plane Wreck. It’s actually a U.S. military plane that had to make an emergency landing due to some ice build up on it’s wings in 1973. Luckily no one was killed during this event but the remains of the plane were never cleared up and it’s become an icon of southern Iceland. Definitely worth a stop no matter what weather conditions you face.
By this point in the day, the sun was setting, rain was fierce, and it was clear that we needed to get shelter for the night as soon as possible. We didn’t have any hotels booked from this point out until we made it to the north of the island so it was our job to find a campsite.
We made it to the little town of Vik and after spending some time studying the map we found an off road trail that takes you up into the mountains. We thought higher ground in the mountains might break a lot of the wind we were experiencing and shelter us from some of the rain. So, we headed to a camping area called Þakgil which took us up a windy, mountainous road for 14 miles and resulted to be the scariest drive of my entire life.
This skinny little road was covered in a thick layer of fog that made it impossible to see more than 10 feet around the car. And there were times where you’d look out the window and see a sudden drop of 100 ft that would have easily been the end of us had Paul not been so amazing at driving. But after that gut-wrenching experience, we stumbled into a beautiful, eerie clearing that made me feel like I tripped and fell into Middle Earth. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Even though we were high up in the hills, it didn’t stop the rain and wind from smacking the life out of us. Luckily, we were able to find shelter in a small little cave and pitched our tent in there for the night. It was so nice to be free from the wind for a while.
And a couple of photos from my phone..
After a very interesting night sharing a cave a bunch of random strangers who turned the cave into their “rave cave”, we were rested up and ready to hit the road once again. There was a lot of hope for me seeing that there wasn’t huge amounts of fog and rain as there was the day before so I wanted to get camp packed up fast to get some photos of this amazing place on the way out.
Our next stop was Reynisdrangar Beach to take a little morning walk. I remember catching sight of that black sand beach for the first time and it felt as though I stepped into an Edgar Allan Poe story. It was so surreal. The wind whipped across the beach so harshly that mist from the waves sprayed our faces and the waves would rush and crash against the coast sometimes 15-20 feet in the air. All I could think about was how cold that water must be and how much it would hurt to get stuck under the crashing of those waves.
There was a moment where I got a little too daring at the end of this beach. I wanted to climb on the rocks as I found a neat little cave that was sparkling with ocean water to photograph. Little did I realize though the tides coming in were stronger and faster than you could prepare yourself for and while climbing through this cave, Paul and I both had a surprise tidal wave come in, nearly knock us off our feet, and buried our feet in freezing cold arctic water up to our knees. When we both realized that we were actually safe and weren’t getting pulled out into the ocean thanks to some rocks we clung ourselves too, I just started laughing as the exhilaration made me feel alive. But unfortunately, our only boots we had for the trip stayed soaked for about 2 days. Still. Totally. Worth. It.
Then I had to take some time to break out my inner geologist and really admire the rock formations on this beach. My grandfather is a genius with anything related to science and all I could think about was having him there to explain everything to me in the way he does. There has never been anything I’ve seen that’s come close to this and honestly I don’t think there ever will be and I know he would have loved it ❤
After our little morning walk on this North Atlantic beach, we hit the road and headed up the coast to go and explore Eastern Iceland. Be sure to stay tuned for my next blog post about this continued adventure!