Exploring Iceland’s South Coast

In a previous post about Reynisfjara Beach, I mentioned that before heading to Iceland I was probably most excited about the South Coast tour with Gateway to Iceland.

Knowing that the South Coast was full of awesome waterfalls, massive glaciers and adorable puffins, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. As with everything else in Iceland, I was not disappointed.

We set out from Reykjavik, early on a Tuesday morning. Reaching the outskirts of the city, we picked up a few remaining passengers and continued along the coast.

Our first stop was at the visitors centre of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. The enormous volcanic mountain loomed on the other side of a large hill, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Being a bit of a geology nerd, I was fascinated.

Being the adventurers were are, we decided to forego the film option inside the visitor centre that the rest of our tour took. Instead we (probably trespassed, so I’m not suggesting this!) decided to walk up to the picturesque little farm in front of the volcano.

I danced around in the field like an Icelandic horse, while our new friend climbed up the side of the nearby mountain.

I’d like to mention that I became an expert at pronouncing the infamous volcano before even stepping foot in Iceland! I had to give a class presentation about the volcano’s effects in Uni, and spent some time practising. I quite enjoy saying it and watching the confusion in people’s faces.

Say it with me… “Eyjafjallajökull“.

Passing some beautiful scenery along the way, we continued along the South Coast.

Next, we arrived at Skógafoss, a 60 meter tall waterfall that crashes into a small river, surrounded by black sand. The grass on the hills beside the waterfall were such a bright green color against the dark sand, that it almost looked like a bumpy golf course.

Much of the area surrounding the waterfall was still covered in a layer of ash from the recent volcanic eruptions.

Next, we drove down the longest and bumpiest side “road” I’ve ever been on. I use the word road lightly, as it was more of a faint path in a bumpy field of volcanic rocks.

The bus parked in a rocky parking lot, and we started walking into what could only be described as lunar landscape. Everything looked black and white, aside from the colors of our clothing popping out in the drab palette.

Ahead of us, was Sólheimajökull. Sólheimajökull is a glacier snout of the southwestern outlet of the Myrdalsjokull icecap. It is about 8 km long and 1-2 km wide, and it retreats drastically each season.

The walk over was pretty windy and rainy. It only added to the landscape and made us feel like we were on another planet.

Having already done a glacial hike previously, we were confident in our climbing abilities. Only this time, we did it without crampons and picks. I shuffled along, slowly but surely, feeling the slippery ice beneath my feet.

We all made our way over to a cool dip in the ice that had been carved by moving water, before heading back to the bus.

Our tour bus loaded up again, and we were quickly heading further down the coast to Vik. We spent some time exploring the amazing Reynisfjara Beach before turning back, in the direction of home.

We still had one more stop…

Seljalandsfoss! When I think of Icelandic waterfalls, this is the first waterfall that comes to my mind. I’ve seen it in so many photos and videos, that I felt like I had already been there. Of course, seeing it in person was a whole other thing.

It was the thinnest waterfall I’ve ever seen. My friends walked all the way around, directly behind the waterfall, while I stood in the stream in front.

We met up at the bridge, and took our last looks at the roaring falls. Our Gateway to Iceland tour bus loaded up one last time, and we were on our way back to Reykjavik.

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22 Responses to “Exploring Iceland’s South Coast”

  1. jade
    November 8, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    We did this exact trip… even the dancing!! We went in the summer and no one was around- so Bob and I stop our car in the middle of the road, turned the music up really loud and danced around the car- watching the waterfall! One of the best moments of my life.
    jade recently posted..Random Acts of Kindness: My Italian Travel Hero

  2. Seattle
    November 8, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    Haha! That’s amazing. I wish we had gone at the same time so we could have all danced around together :p

  3. Nicole
    November 9, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    Such stunning photos as always Seattle!
    I love how beautifully the lush green of the grasses contrast with the volcanic ash. 🙂

    I’d really like to walk on the Sólheimajökull glacier. Would be an interesting experience. Is there much wildlife around there?

    Hope I can get to Iceland soon and see some of these beautiful places.
    Nicole recently posted..Being an Australian in a Sea of Thousands of Irish – International Rules

    • Seattle
      November 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

      Thanks Nicole 😀
      We only saw puffins. There’s not a lot of wildlife, although there are sheep roaming around EVERYWHERE, haha.

  4. Two Travelaholics
    November 9, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Beautiful photos! Iceland’s our first stop on our RTW trip. Cannot wait!
    Two Travelaholics recently posted..RTW UPDATE: Telling the Future In-laws

    • Seattle
      November 9, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

      Thanks :]
      That’s awesome! You’re going to love it there.

  5. Chris
    November 10, 2011 at 1:56 am #

    Your photos are always so gorgeous! I can’t tell if it’s the camera, the photographer, or just the beauty of Iceland :-p

  6. Nomadic Samuel
    November 10, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    You definitely have some of the best photos essays I’ve ever seen 🙂
    Nomadic Samuel recently posted..Faces of Asia | Part 2 | Travel Video

  7. Amanda
    November 10, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    Ahhh, where are the puffin photos?? 😉 No but seriously, these photos are amazing. I’m heading to Europe next summer, and I’m considering flying Iceland Air so I can build in a stopover in Iceland. It looks beyond beautiful.
    Amanda recently posted..Thursday Traveler: nod ‘n’ smile

  8. Seattle
    November 10, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    Chris – Thanks! Maybe a little mixture of all of the above, plus a little editing :]

    Samuel – From the man with the beautiful photos :p

    Amanda – I made a separate post with puffin photos earlier 😀 http://seattlestravels.com/my-favourite-place-in-iceland-reynisfjara-beach/
    Thanks! I would definitely recommend doing that. I’ll probably do it at some point just to go back to Iceland 😀

  9. Emily S.
    November 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    Wow! I love these photos… I want to go to Iceland so bad!!! Hopefully in 2013 it will happen!
    Emily S. recently posted..How NOT to Smuggle Cuban Cigars into the United States

    • Seattle
      November 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm #


      You should bump it up to 2012 ;]

  10. NLM
    December 3, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    This is great! Wonderful photos–makes me want to schedule a trip right now! Thanks for sharing.
    NLM recently posted..This Makes Perfect Sense to Me

  11. Sam
    December 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    When I was driving a rental car around Iceland I camped the night at the bottom of that Glacier. It was bloody cold but added another layer to my Iceland experience.
    Sam recently posted..An Amazing Hike up to Angels Landing

  12. Mary @ Green Global Travel
    May 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Nice photos! They capture the beauty of Iceland’s landscape. I did not think waterfalls could be that thin!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..How We Quadrupled Our Blog Traffic In 6 Months

    • Seattle
      May 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

      Thanks 😀 I know! But with there being SO MANY waterfalls in that country–I guess it’s not hard to believe that some of them would be so thin :p

  13. Mary Jean
    November 7, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    Looks freezing! Some of the landscape reminds me of New Zealand. Have you been?

    • Seattle
      November 7, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

      It was pretty cold. No, no yet! Hopefully next year :]

  14. James @ Africa Tours
    July 19, 2013 at 2:59 am #

    wow, amazing shots! Such beautiful colors & details…very nice!


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