Tuesday, May 20
We were up early this morning to catch a bus for a 14 hour tour. We covered a lot of territory in the southeast part of Iceland. Our first stop was at the Skogafoss Waterfall, which was truly beautiful – 200 feet high and 82 feet wide. We could walk close enough to feel the mist. Cold!!! But worth it for the view of the rainbows forming in the sun, sometimes single, often double. Some people were paragliding (motorized) around the waterfall. I wish I could have been doing that – what wonderful views they must have had!
As we drove along, we passed several farms and ranches. We saw cattle, sheep, goats and Icelandic ponies. There is some agriculture as well, but much of the land is not arable. There’s so much variation in the terrain, with smooth black lava fields, jagged lava flow, huge rocks as well as mountains, of course. Some of the fields looked like piles of rubble covered with moss. Moss is the first thing to grow on lava. We saw many, many waterfalls of varying heights and widths, as well as several glaciers or glacier tongues.
After a quick lunch, we continued on to Jokulsarlon, an iceberg filled lake. The icebergs are coming off of the glacier Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Iceland. In fact, it is larger than all of the other glaciers in Europe combined. The lake was formed when the passage to the sea was blocked by land movements in the 20th century. It could become unblocked in the future, and the lake would be drained. When the James Bond movie, “Die Another Day” was filmed in 2002, the lake was allowed to freeze over by blocking the flow of salty ocean water into the lake.
We boarded an amphibious vehicle which entered the lake and took us around so we could see the numerous icebergs up close. One of guides allowed us to hold a piece of glacial ice, then broke some off so we could each taste it. All of Iceland’s drinking water comes from glaciers, and does taste quite good. Although the glacier looks white, and some of the bergs look blue,the ice is clear.
After the boat ride, we had time to walk along the shore of the lake. It is truly impressive.
On our way back to Reykjavik, we stopped at a gas station/convenience store where we had Icelandic hotdogs for dinner! Icelanders love hotdogs, and theirs are made with beef, pork and lamb, so the flavor is a little different. However, it is hard to detect the difference after you add ketchup, mustard and remoulade.
Our last stop was at Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland. The falls plummet 200 feet into a deep pool, and it creates some beautiful rainbows. We were able to walk behind the falls as the sun was approaching the horizon, so the view through the falls was gorgeous as well. We arrived back in Iceland at 10:30 pm, as the sun was setting.