Jan Kraus
21 May 2022photo story3 min read

Iceland Highlights - Part Three

Welcome to the third part of my Iceland highlights. This blogpost series is a recap of my trip from the summer of 2021. We continue along the south coast road visiting more beautiful waterfalls, some glaciers, and a crashed plane in this particular part.

LAVA Centre

We’ve made the first stop at LAVA Centre at Hvolsvöllur town, located at Ring route, around 100km from Reykjavík.

I highly recommend visiting this place if you’re interested in learning about Iceland’s volcanism. The exhibition dedicated to Icelandic volcanos is highly engaging and interactive.

The centre is located in the area of Hekla - the volcanic system in southern Iceland known in old literature as “The gateway to Hell”. I learned enough to believe this name.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall

Driving east on the south coast of Iceland, we’ve stopped at Seljalandsfoss. According to many guides, this is one of Iceland’s most picturesque and famous waterfalls. When we arrived at the place, it was pretty busy.

A wideangle shot of Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Iceland
A wideangle shot of Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Iceland

The Seljalandsfoss has a drop of around 60m and is fuelled by the waters of the Eyjafjallajökull glacier. One unique feature of Seljalandsfoss is a pathway that allows you to go behind the fall and encircle it.

Vertical shot of Seljalandsfoss waterfall and its basin, Iceland
Vertical shot of Seljalandsfoss waterfall and its basin, Iceland

A view from behind Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Iceland
A view from behind Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Iceland

Prepare to get a bit wet, though. The mist is filling the air everywhere. It’s also a bit muddy and slippery, so make sure you have proper shoes and walk carefully.

Final view of Seljalandsfoss waterfall after encircling it with the path in the cavern behind, Iceland
Final view of Seljalandsfoss waterfall after encircling it with the path in the cavern behind, Iceland

Gljúfrabúi

There is also another waterfall nearby called Gljúfrabúi. It is located maybe 10 minutes from Seljalandsfoss, hidden in a narrow canyon.

The entrance is relatively narrow, but you enter a small, open space after a few meters. You can observe the force of the waters of this waterfall splashing its waters on the rocks in front.
Also, again it’s definitely a bit wet experience.

A view of hidden Gljúfrabúi waterfall, Iceland
A view of hidden Gljúfrabúi waterfall, Iceland

Sólheimajökull

Sólheimajökull is a glacier in southern Iceland between the volcanoes Katla and Eyjafjallajökull. Its front is easily accessible from the ring route. Hence it was our next stop.

Sólheimajökull glacier seen from approaching road, Icleand
Sólheimajökull glacier seen from approaching road, Icleand

This was the first time I’ve seen a glacier from quite close, and it was a mixed feeling. On the one side, it was fantastic, and you feel astonished by its mass and size. On the other side, though, it’s pretty sad if you see and realize how fast they are melting.

Head of Sólheimajökull glacier - the black stains are caused by ashes accumulated from past volcano eruptions, Icleand
Head of Sólheimajökull glacier - the black stains are caused by ashes accumulated from past volcano eruptions, Icleand

Visiting the area makes it so much easier to visualize how glaciers influenced the landscapes we walk today. By looking at their sheer size, volume, and the amounts of water, they produce when melting, you can imagine how those forces shaped the valleys during the ice age.

Valley transformed by melting ice masses of Sólheimajökull glacier, Icleand
Valley transformed by melting ice masses of Sólheimajökull glacier, Icleand

DC Plane wreck on Sólheimasandur

Our final step of this long day was at an old plane that crashed on the black beach near Sólheimasandur.

DC Plane crash wreck at Sólheimasandur, Icleand
DC Plane crash wreck at Sólheimasandur, Icleand

The plane is accessible from a parking place at the Ring Road, although it’s roughly a 1-1,5h walk across a vast, empty ash desert. The path is marked, so there shouldn’t be any problem following it, but it’s definitely monotonous.

DC Plane crash wreck at Sólheimasandur, Icleand
DC Plane crash wreck at Sólheimasandur, Icleand

Perhaps guess there isn’t anything special about this place. It somehow became famous because of the rise of social media. But on the other hand, the views are pretty serene, and the crashed plane stands out from the gray, raw surroundings.

DC Plane crash wreck at Sólheimasandur, Icleand
DC Plane crash wreck at Sólheimasandur, Icleand

If you stroll 15 minutes further, you’ll reach the peaceful, black beach of Sólheimasandur.

A view over peaceful Sólheimasandur beach, Icleand
A view over peaceful Sólheimasandur beach, Icleand

The walk to the crash site and back was a bit strenuous, and after getting back to the car, we headed for a night sleep at our stay in an Airbnb room near Skeiðflötur.

Entry published on 21 May 2022 under #photo story, #photography, #iceland, #travel, #waterfalls, #glaciers.
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