Having hiked the glaciers the previous day, it was going to be a laid-back morning and we started a bit late towards the souther city of Vik.
First stop was the black desert of Skeiðarársandur on route 1.
One of the largest alluvial plains of the country, Skeiðarársandur is situated between the counties Öræfi and Fljótshverfi and has an area of approximately 1000 sq.km. The distance between the glacier’s edge and the sea is between 20 and 30 km and its coastline is 40 km long. A few glacial rivers form innumerable branches in the lower regions and sometimes-terrible flood waves occur, especially when the sub glacial caldera Grimsvotn empties or sub glacial eruptions take place. This plain is mostly devoid of vegetation.
The common grey seals and the harbor seals have their rookeries in several places along the beach, where the farmers hunted them. The eastern edge of the outwash plain was inhabited in the past, when there were fewer floods and more vegetation.
In 1996, after a volcanic eruption underneath the glacier Vatnajökull so called Jökulhlaup (which is an immense outburst of glacial water, mud and gravel) destroyed the road and the bridge over Skeiðará, both were reconstructed in 1997.
After driving a few kilometers from Skeiðarársandur, we noticed some steam coming out of a river and there was a gravel road leading to it. So we took that detour to observe the river. Co-ordinates of this location: 63.943950,-17.341694
With lush-green mountains on one side of the route 1, we noticed this tall waterfall just behind someone’s house. A road leading to the waterfall was another detour along the way. Location coordinates: 63.854814,-17.869647
The first inhabitants of Kirkjubær were Irish Hermits and the story goes that heathens were forbidden to live there. The Christian settler Ketill lived all his life at Kirkjubær but when the pagan Hildir Eysteinsson planned to move there, “he fell down dead as soon as he set his foot on the estate and is buried at Hildishaugur.
Kirkjugolf is an 80 sq. meters coastal eroded and shaped columnar basalt outcrop, where the top of vertical basalt column can be seen. This is not knows to have ever been a church site, but it’s easy to mistake the surface being man-made.
Before reaching the small village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur (pronounced “KIRK-hew-bye-yar-kloi-stur”), take route 203 to this beautiful circular waterfall, probably about 15 meters in height. A faint walking path leads right up to the waterfall’s base from route 203.
Driving just a bit south on Route 1 will being you to the small yet modern village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Irish monks are believed to have lived here before the arrival of the Norse settlers. At the end of the village is a lovely waterfall, Systrafoss which dumps the water into Lake Systravatn.
[Systrafoss from top of mountain]
[Systrafoss from route 1]
Some more driving along the route 1 brought us to our destination of the day – Vík. It was almost 5pm when we reached to this small town in south of Iceland. And we were up for some more adventure… ok, sight-seeing!
The only densely populated area in Mýrdalshreppur, Vík lies in a small valley to the east of Reynisfjall and on the lowlands above the beach that is a populous recreation area; and has a population of 300. Víkurkirkja (Church of Vík), is a distinct church built in 1934 that has an altar piece painted by Brynjólfur Þórðarson and lies on top of the hill behind the town. View of Vík from the church are the best.
Just a short drive from the town center is Dyrhólaey – A 120 meter high headland into the sea. Dyrhólaey forms an impressive southernmost part of Iceland. Sea erosion has carved a giant hole in the towering cliff, big enough for boats to sail through. Dyrhólaey and the cliffs that rise out of the sea to the south of it are a haven for a variety of birds and the area is a wildlife sanctuary.
[The lighthouse on top of mountain leading to Dyrhólaey]
[Puffin colony on cliff of mountain leading to Dyrhólaey]
[Walking on top of Dyrhólaey]
[Small boulders rise from the sea]
Standing at 340 meters high, Reynisfjall mountain lies to the west of Vík. The American navy built a long range navigation facility at its southern point during WW2 and at the same time built a road to the top that is said to be the steepest in Iceland. The view from the southern tip of the mountain is nothing short of spectacular with a great hiking opportunity.
The southernmost beach of Iceland, Reynisfara has the Halsanefshellir, which is a remarkable sea cave made of columnar basalt. It lies at the south-western side of Reynisfjall where the mountain meets a great expanse of black beach. At Reynisfjara, you can also see Puffins.
[Reynisfjara with Dyrhólaey in far end]
[Reynisfjara with Reynisfjall rising from the sea]
Sólheimajökull is the spectacular glacier tongue that comes down from Mýrdalsjökull. Take road 221 by car for an easy access to the glacier. From there you can go on a guided tour or have a coffee at Cafe Sólheimajökull.
|Like Vík Guesthouse
[Day 7 route – Höfn to Vik]
Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult. The exchange rate at the time of publishing is assumed to be USD 1 = ISK 114.
|Like Vik Guesthouse||$72||€62.40 Per person, one night|
|Fuel||$87.72||ISK 10,000 for the day|
|Dinner in Vik||$23.14||ISK 2638 per person|
|Groceries||$7.90||ISK 900 for Coffee, biscuits, water, snacks, etc.|
|Total Costs||$190.76||Per person|
|Overall Costs||$4,735.89||Per person|
« PREVIOUS – Day 6
Jökulsárlón, Breiðamerkursandur, Skaftafell Glacier Walk.
Höfn to Vík
Skeiðarársandur, Hildishaugur, Kirkjugolfið, Stjornarfoss, Systrafoss, Dyrhólaey, Reynisfjara, Sólheimajökull.
Day 8 – NEXT »
Skógafoss, Seljavallalaug Pool, Eyjafjallajökull, Seljalandsfoss, Þingvellir National Park.