Today we continued our tour eastward with a variety of stops along the south coast of Iceland. We visited the fascinating Lava Center, gazed at splendid waterfalls at Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss and finished at the black sand beaches of Reynisfjara and the 120 meter high promontory of Dyrholaey. In the middle, we stopped for lunch at a casual cafe in the Hotel Anna, where the specialties were a very tasty lamb soup and Icelandic fish and chips.
The Lava Center in Hvolsvollur is an interactive high technology exhibition depicting volcanic activity, earthquakes and the creation of Iceland. One can examine eruptions and lava flows, volcanic and rift systems, faults and glacial floods. The center has an elaborate monitoring system for surveying volcanoes and earthquake zones and activity. This is a must stop for anyone interested in understanding the geological makeup of the island.
Next stop was this fairy tale-like waterfall – the only one in Iceland where you can walk behind the cascade on a footpath (no we did not as it was icy!). The 60m falls are part of the river Seljalandsa, and originate under the glacier Eyjafjallajokull.
Near the village of Skogar lies the magnificent 62m waterfall known as Skogafoss. There is a steep staircase alongside the waterfall that one can climb for giddy views, or one can walk to the foot of the falls and become shrouded in sheets of mist and rainbows. Legend has it that a settler named Prasi hid a chest of gold behind Skogafoss.
One of the south coast’s most recognizable natural formations is the rocky plateau and huge stone arch at Dyrholaey which rises dramatically from the surrounding plain 10km west of Vik.
The black sand beach at Reynisfjara is backed by an incredible stack of basalt columns that look like a magical church organ. Immediately offshore are the towering sea stacks; tradition says they are the masts of ships that trolls were stealing when they got caught in the sun.
Icekland’s southernmost town and its’ rainiest, Vik is a booming hub for a beautiful portion of the south coast.
We stayed overnight at the Magma Hotel close to Kirkjubaejarklaustur, and dined at their Bistro 1783, named after the year that the volcano Lakagigar erupted. The rooms were little separate huts with grass covered roofs, each dated by a volcanic eruption; ours overlooked a small lake.