Monday, September 8, 2014

Iceland Part 2- Reykjavik to Vik (The Golden Circle and Waterfalls)

I am back with more Icelandic goodness!! Be prepared, because these next few days of the trip were possibly the best days of my life so I need to break them out into their own posts

On Monday morning we got picked up by our car rental agency (Iceland 4x4, amazing deal and great service...totally recommend them). We had rented a 4x4 vehicle, because we felt much more comfortable with that option, not knowing some of the roads we might take. Some roads in Iceland 100% require a 4 wheel drive vehicle, but most of the touristy ones (like the Ring Road), are perfectly fine for all vehicles. We did use the 4wd once though! That story will come later! Our car was a Suzuki Grand Ventura and we loved the built in GPS (but we recommend having both a paper map and the GPS as the GPS gave random names to all the roads and sometimes couldn't find things).

Suzy the Suzuki
Someone asked me if we went on a guided tour, and the answer is No! We mapped out beforehand all the stops we wanted to see along the road and pre-booked accommodations roughly 2-3 hours apart along the Ring Road so we had plenty of time to stop and see the various sites over 7 days. I think we only ended up missing a couple so I think we did pretty good! 90% of the stops are right by the road and there are TONS of signs so it is quite easy to do a tour yourself. I will mention that 7 days did not give us enough time to see all parts of Iceland, but it was a good amount of time for the sights along the Ring Road.

Our first stop was the "Golden Circle". When people only have a couple days in Iceland, this is a nice little route to take to see some geysers and waterfalls. Our first stop was Thingvellir National Park. It was raining, but we did hike up to see the tectonic plates of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It was also a very scenic area to drive through! I will say this- all of the sights we saw in Iceland were free and easy to walk around in. So while Iceland itself was expensive, you sure do save a lot of money on sightseeing.


Funny story- we were leaving the park and I really needed to pee so we pulled over and I went behind some bushes. When I looked up- there were two sheep staring at me! Sheep roam all over the country (and are collected in the fall), but I certainly wasn't expecting to see one there. It kind of ended up being one of my favourite photos of the trip.


After Thingvellir, we drove to Gullfoss Waterfall and to Geysir (a geyser!). It was still raining a bit, but both sites were nice to walk around in. Sarah and I had both brought waterproof shoes and rainpants and they sure did come in handy!

The waterfalls in Iceland are great because you can get really close! In the photo below you can see the ridge that we hiked too (be prepared to get wet!)

Geysir is in an area with a few gesyers, where you can walk around. Geysir itself is very unpredictable in its eruptions, but the nearby geyser Stokkur goes off every few minutes, so it is never a wasted stop!

Gullfoss


Stokkur
After these stops we were basically done the Golden Circle, so we headed on down to the Ring Road to begin our trip around Iceland! Our next two stops were two beautiful waterfalls- Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss.

I think Seljalandsfoss was my favourite waterfall in Iceland. It was so pretty (and high!), and you could actually walk behind it, which was pretty awesome.

Me at Seljalandsfoss
The view from behind the falls, people on the left for scale!
Skogafoss was also awesome, and actually introduced us to our first rainbow of Iceland! I swear, that place is the land of rainbows due to the constant changes from rain to sun all day. This waterfall you could hike to the top of by way of some stairs on the right side of the falls, which Sarah and I did and enjoyed the beautiful views up there! But man were our legs tired.

Skogafoss


After the falls, we were driving down the road when we saw a GLACIER pop up on our left! We were so excited to see our first glacier that we turned off the road and took a 5km gravel road to get closer to it. It did not disappoint! Little did we realize at the time that this was actually the glacier we would be hiking on the next day.


Funny story here- we saw a man strip down to his underwear and jump into the glacier lagoon on the left in the photo above. We were so shocked and then the next day we actually found out it was our glacier guide! He was doing an ice bucket challenge!

Our last stop of the day was Dyrholaey, which is a small town known for puffin viewing. We were a little past puffin season so we drove down not being sure what we would find. Alas, we saw no puffins, but the ocean was beautiful!



HOWEVER- just as we were about to pack it in, we saw A PUFFIN! One little lonely guy hadn't gotten the message that is was time to move on. He was pretty far away, but I had a good zoom on my camera so we were both able to spy on him with that. We were so happy to have seen one!


After that, we headed out to our hostel in the small town of Vik. What is funny about Iceland is that many of the "small towns" are only 300-1000 or so people, but the buildings and houses are actually situated close together so they always seem bigger. In Ontario, our small towns tend to be farming areas so it never feels like you are "in town"! Our hostel was super cute and somehow we ended up with a private room, which was nice.



Can you believe that was just one day in Iceland? The next day was even more exciting with a glacier hike and a boat ride through icebergs, and I will be sharing that tomorrow (so. many. photos.).

7 comments:

  1. Love it! Now I want to go! I've told Neil - and he agreed he's wanted to go there for a long time! Sheila

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  2. This is amazing. I love the photos!! My friend went on a press trip to Iceland a few years ago and has raved on about it since and I can totally see why. I need to go there. I can't wait to hear more!

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  3. Wow Casey - these are some amazing photos. Iceland looks stunning!

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  4. Really well written and very helpful for prospective visitor. I would like to follow similar itinerary if I do visit in June with family.

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  5. HI , could you let me know time taken in doing this whole thing. I am also of the opinion of doing the same trip in one day. Golden Circle + Two water falls and retire in VIK.

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    1. we left around 9 or 10 am and got into Vik around 6pm

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