Winter in Iceland's South Coast

Thursday, December 08, 2016

I consistently dream of waterfalls whether they are in Hawaii, Canada or Kenya.  Once I knew I was headed to Iceland, I started researching waterfall tours outside of Rekjavík. There were several small tours to choose from and I specifically wanted to take my time taking photos so I opted for Discover Iceland South Coast minibus tour for Sunday morning.

It would be an early morning for me and didn't know how hard the hikes would be so I ate Skyr mixed in with granola and packed my water bottle and granola snacks.  I was the second person to be picked up and met Guðmundur, who would be my guide for the day.

We drove to each hotel picking up two more couples which ended up being a group of 7. Guðmundur, which is translated into God's Hand in English, lived in Denmark for a few years before returning to Iceland and provided us with some informative stories throughout day.

However,I tend to experience bouts of motion sickness from time to time so I popped a dramamine before the day long drive and spent most of the morning asleep.

Skógafoss Waterfall
Our first stop was the Skógafoss waterfall and Guðmundur drove to the other side of the park instead of parking with all the tour buses. 

It was a bit wet when we exited the minibus and since it was winter, the sky was grey and a bit misty.  My camera gear was already damp as soon as I took it out to set up my tripod and take photos of the waterfall.

I was fumbling around a bit with my gear and I knew once I walked closer to Skógafoss, I knew it would be futile.

Luckily, I had a Samsung 6, which had an excellent camera phone, so I opted to use it instead which proved extremely useful since the path towards Skógafoss was a bit muddy and icy.

I observed that some of the tourists were not dressed properly for a waterfall hike as I saw some with with thin plastic wrapped around their winter coats or they had on very stylish winter boots which didn't have much traction for the rocky pah.

I saw quite a few folks close to the base of the waterfall and there wasn't much of an over flow over the rocky path so I followed suit.

It was extremely wet in these parts and was grateful for my Gore-tex but a little worried about my phone getting drenched.  I offered to take a picture of two women at the base of the waterfall in exchange that they take a picture of me.

There were several other waterfalls scattered around the park and wondered how green the area would look in the summertime.  

Little waterfalls
Would it remind me of Isle of Skye in June?  I imagined the lush green hills and the soft grass glistening in the sunlight.

It would be unfair to compare Iceland to Skye but I always wonder what the countryside would look like in the summertime.

I didn't realize that I was gone a long time while I was taking pictures.
One of the guests was on the look out for me and on our way to the next stop, one of the women suggested we have a time limit for exploring.

My legs were damp and my backpack was drenched so I became a little worried that my camera and phone would be ruined.  Luckily, the Gore-Tex kept me dry and Guðmundur had the heat on to a warm degree.

Our next stop was a short drive to Seljalandfoss Waterfall and the photos make it to many  blog, Instagram or Facebook post.

There is something magical about being able to walk behind a waterfall however, there was nothing romantic about it in the winter.  

I had to be very careful not to slip over a narrow, muddy path with throngs of other tourists reaching the same destination.  I was also rushing since I didn't want to piss off the rest of my group.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
If I had an hour, I would have climbed to the summit of the waterfall and take an aerial shot.  Unfortunately, I only had time to walk behind the waterfall before hurrying back to the minibus.

I was actually the first one back so I spent some time talking to Guðmundur about Iceland's history and a little bit about philosophy.

Soon the rest of the group had returned and our next stop would be Reynisfjara Beach.

I was actually very excited about this site since I never been to a black sand beach.

There was a sign at the entrance of the rocky beach indicating danger but since I was pressed for time, I hurried down to the shore and walked towards Reynisdrangar.

However, I was struck by the violent waves crashing against the shore.  I made a point to not be near the shoreline as I didn't see many people around me so I set up my tripod and tried to catch the height of the waves with my camera.

I didn't have the settings right for the action shots so most of the waves have already crashed.  So, I took out my Samsung and record a short clip to give an idea how ferocious they were.                      

Out in the water were the sea stacks, Reynisdrangar, where many legends surround its formations.  The waves were turbulent and were crashing violently against the shoreline. Perhaps, in the summertime, it would be safer for me to venture closer and spend a little more time exploring the area.

I was out by myself for about 20 minutes until a few couples showed up also curious to take a closer look at the rock formations.  I began to head back because the group agreed to take 45 minutes and during the walk back towards the parking lot, I took pictures of the basalt columns.

Basalt columns
There wasn't much sunlight left in the afternoon but as I looked over to the ocean, I was still mesmerized by the wild beauty of the waves.  

Iceland Reynisfjara Beach
Reynisfjara Beach

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