Iceland Day Two: Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, and Vík

The next morning we woke up bright and early. It was time to really start our journey down Ring Road. We ate some breakfast. Justin packed Mountain House Breakfast Scramble, his favorite all-time camping food, and I had oatmeal. We packed up the car as quickly as possible and started to head towards Skógafoss waterfall, but first, we stopped to get gas and snacks.

Filling up a car in Iceland was interesting. Iceland is pretty much a cash-free place. Everyone single place you go takes credit cards except for Discover. Iceland really does not like Discover Credit Cards. So once you get to the petrol pump, you need to use a credit or debit card with a pin to fill your car up. We used a debit card and had no issues. Also, unlike in the United States, places actually close in Iceland. If you do not have a credit card or debit card with a pin and the petrol station is closed, there is no way to fill your car. Also, it’s important to keep your gas tank topped off. Cities/Towns in Iceland are tiny and often very far from one another, and if you’re driving Ring Road, you may not spot another petrol station for hours, so be cognizant of that. You also have to pump your own gas in Iceland, which is pretty normal unless you live in New Jersey, so make sure you KNOW how to fill your own car with petrol. Gas Prices in Iceland are super, super expensive. I don’t know the exact conversion because math is Justin’s thing and not mine. But I think the average price of petrol is something like 6 to 7 US dollars per gallon. Also, UNLIKE in the US, the petrol is in the green pump, and the diesel is a black pump, which is the complete opposite of most gas stations in the US.

Justin was REALLY awesome at doing the math to figure out how much petrol we needed for our car. Of course, you can set the pump to fill your car for the entire amount, but then it will put a pretty shitty hold on your money for quite a few hours. So instead, Justin used his math brain to figure out how many liters of petrol we needed per fill-up. I think the machine gives you specific options for certain amounts, and Justin was pretty much right on target every time with estimating how much petrol we needed for the car.

Also, most petrol stations have convenience stores, and they’re awesome to stock up on snacks… see the following example:

[phone pic}

I cannot even comprehend how many cans and/or bottles we went through of Appelsín that we went through in our entire trip.

Once we filled the car, we started heading towards Skógafoss Waterfall, as I said. Ring Road is a two-lane highway that has a lot of one-lane bridges. We saw some of the most traffic on Ring Road between Reykjavík and Vík. After Vík, we did see some traffic, but pretty much after day three, we didn’t see a lot of traffic on Ring Road at all until we got closer to Egilsstaðir and Mývatn. There are also a shit ton of sheep and lamb wandering the Ring Road, and they give no shits if a car is coming or not. It gave quite a new meaning to free-ranged meat.

En route to Skógafoss, we saw some pretty cool-looking waterfalls on the side of the road and realized that we could visit them. So we detoured off the highway and wound up at Seljalandsfoss.

Seljalandsfoss is located in the South Region in Iceland, right by Route 1, leading to Þórsmörk Road 249. The waterfall drops about 197 feet and is part of the Seljalands River, with its origin in the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull.

In pop culture [again, thanks to Wikipedia for enlightening me on these things], Seljalandsfoss was in the first leg of Amazing Race 6. I actually knew this one before writing it because I had texted BFFL Hillary some pics of the waterfall, and she said she needed to watch the episode of The Amazing Race that it was in because it looked amazing. The waterfall was also in the movie CKY2K, which features Bam Margera being a skateboarding dumb ass and playing stupid pranks, while his brother’s band CKY, which admittedly does have some good songs…. namely Flesh into Gear, 96 Quite Bitter Beings, and Attached at the Hip, IMO. And I also almost got thrown out of a casino in 2005 in Atlantic City because I went to see CKY with some friends and got really drunk in the casino, brought a camera into the concert. Some dude told me to put it away, I didn’t know he was a plain-clothed security officer, and I refused. He led me out of the concert but decided to let me check my camera instead of kicking me out… Regardless, CKY videos, NOT THE BAND, were the predecessor to Jackass on MTV.   Apparently, some stupid video by Justin Bieber featured the waterfall, as well, and an episode in season three of Star Trek: Discovery also had a brief scene there.

But the coolest thing about Seljalandsfoss is that you can walk behind it.

Justin and I parked our car. It was about seven or so dollars to park the car. The area has a decent-sized parking lot, a coffee cart, a tiny souvenir store, and a water closet. There were many cars parked there and at the waterfall, but it didn’t seem that crowded even with all the people there. It was pretty gray and rainy when we parked there. It was also cold. We still decided to hike behind the waterfall. It wasn’t really a long hike. However, the mist from the waterfall will drench you and all of your belongings. I put my camera in a waterproof bag so it wouldn’t get soaked. On top of that, the water is FREEZING cold. So cold waterfall mist combined with colder temperatures and rain led to us being thoroughly soaked in our walk behind the fall. I also wore a waterproof coat and waterproof hiking pants because I knew that I would be completely soaked when we were done.

I’d suggest starting on the right if you plan to hike behind the falls because that side is less slippery than the left side. The trail is pretty wet and slippery, and good shoes with traction are important. On the left, when you exit the trail, you will be climbing over soaking wet boulders that are slippery and moss-covered. It wasn’t hard per se. You need to watch where you’re climbing and be careful. By starting on the right, you climb up the boulders, which is much easier than climbing down them, in my opinion.

We got absolutely drenched, but it was a lot of fun. It was probably one of my favorite waterfalls that we visited.

Once we finished exploring behind the waterfall, we walked a little trail to the left of the waterfall, where there were a few more waterfalls though none as impressive as Seljalandsfoss. We also visited Iceland as the snow on the mountains was melting, so throughout our drive on Ring Road, we saw many tiny little waterfalls caused by snowmelt, which were pretty cool.

After we finished exploring Seljalandsfoss, we totally took our water bottles and filled them with water from the stream that the waterfall flowed into. No regrets, it was absolutely delicious water. The water in Iceland is that clean.

Onward to pictures.

These were taken with my DSLR:

 

Those are all the waterfalls located on the trail at Seljalandsfoss.

Here are some phone pics of the same thing:

Here are the DSLR pics of Seljalandsfoss waterfall:

Phone pics:

And a phone pic of J and me in front of Seljalandsfoss.

After our detour at Seljalandsfoss, we continued back on our trek to Skógafoss, which was only about thirty minutes away.

Skógafoss is a waterfall on the Skógá River, and it was also featured in a stupid Justin Bieber music video. It is one of the biggest waterfalls in all of Iceland. It has a width of 82 feet and a drop of 200 feet.

It was featured in Thor: The Dark World, which I like to pretend does not exist because it is a truly awful movie even though it features Chris Eccleston, or 9 in Doctor Who, one of my favorite Doctors. Even he could not save that movie. It was also in the series Vikings when a character named Floki discovers Iceland. It was also in season 8 of Game of Thrones. Daenerys and Jon Snow fly to the waterfall with her drags, and they kiss in front of it. But I stopped watching that show after, like season 4, in the hope that GRRM would actually finish the next book in my lifetime so I could read how the series ends instead of watching women being degraded and exploited weekly on HBO.  But I’m pretty sure GRRM will never finish the Winds of Winter because he’s too busy trying to make even more money from HBO by writing prequels to the series instead of actually finishing the series.

It was gray and cloudy at Seljalandsfoss, but it was blue and sunny at Skógafoss, which meant we got to see a double rainbow at the falls. There is also the potential to get soaked from the mist of Skógafoss as well. I didn’t get close enough to the waterfall to get misted, but Justin did because he went right up to the foot of the falls. There is also a staircase next to the waterfall that you can climb up, and there is a hiking trail from there that leads past something like twenty-five other waterfalls. We were originally going to hike Waterfall Way, but we got entirely too distracted at Seljalandsfoss. Next time.

There were a few people at Skógafoss, but not a lot of people.  Parking is free there, and they have a decent-sized parking lot. They also have water closets that you’re supposed to pay 200 Kr to use, but I couldn’t find any place to pay to use the bathroom when I was there, but I did look for one. There is also camping nearby, and they have larger WCs with showers for the campers. There was also a restaurant and souvenir shop nearby, but we didn’t check either out. We just took too many pictures of the waterfall.

DSLR pics:

Phone pics:

Phone selfie:

After spending time at Skógafoss, we drove the rest of the way towards Vík. Our second lodging was an Airbnb right on Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.

Like almost every other place we visited, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach was featured in Game of Thrones. It was used during the North of the Wall scenes, so this was probably WAY after I stopped watching it.

The sand is black due to a volcanic explosion, and the beach was not made of sand. It was made of many small rocks and pebbles. I would recommend wearing hiking boots as you trek it—the beach formed from hot lava from what is now a dormant volcano. The lava cooled and solidified when hitting the cold ocean water, breaking apart and forming volcanic rocks. Weather, in turn, makes the rocks even smaller. The beach also features tan-colored basalt rock formations. In 1991, the black sand beach was listed as one of the most beautiful places in the world… That was something like thirty years ago, so I’m not sure if the world still feels the same about it as they did back then. But it was definitely a cool place to visit, though definitely NOT one of MY PERSONAL highlights from the trip.

But if black sand and basalt is your thing, here are some pictures:

DSLR:

Phone pics:

Phone selfies:

These pictures were all taken close to midnight in the Land of the Midnight sun 😉

We stayed at a cabin that was right on the beach. So it was maybe a five-minute walk of that from the cabin to the shore.

Our host’s name was Ragnar, and he was a pretty cool dude. We talked to him for a long time. He used to be a farmer but instead runs his Airbnb the entire time. There were cliffs full of puffins and sheep outside of the cabin. He was in disbelief that Houston regularly got up to temperatures in the hundreds. We talked a little about what life in Iceland was like, and he told us all about being a farmer. He was a fascinating guy. We really enjoyed talking to him.

This was the cabin:

We drove to Vík shortly after we got there to check out our first Icelandic grocery store. After that, we went to the Krónan supermarket. We walked around like idiots but respectful tourists and bought way too much food, including lots of Appelsín, strangely flavored potato chips, lots of chocolate bars, and skyr yogurt. I really liked the yogurt. My favorite was the apple flavor. Justin also bought some Icelandic beef and made burgers. I also had a delicious Chicken Shawarma Wrap.

After dinner, we just chilled. We wanted to wait until most of the tourists were gone before checking out the beach. I read, and Justin did graduate school work. So we didn’t go down to the beach until around 11 pm or so. There were still a decent amount of people there when we went down to it, but not nearly as many as when we first got there.

When we got back, I went to sleep. Justin stayed up a bit to do his graduate work.

The next day, we started the drive towards Egilsstaðir.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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