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Iceland - The South, Land of Fire and Ice - Part 2

- By Shounak Mondal   .   May 17, 2018   .   

March 2018 -- Iceland 

Iceland is simply the best experience I have had so far in my travels to 30+ countries. This country is unique in terms of the sheer diversity and ruggedness of natural beauty. We continue our journey to the South of Iceland which is home to incredible waterfalls, Icecaves and black beaches.

This is the famous Seljalandsfoss falls. We reach here after a short drive from our home. What hit us apart from the amazing beauty of this waterfall was the wind. The weather was pretty bad and more than the rain it was the wind that made it difficult for us to even stand on our feet. Children and babies for sure had a very high chance of completely flying off with the wind. We had to be careful while openning the car doors and while doing so, one of us lost a cap as a strong gust of wind hit us as soon as we got out of the car. The cap flew away and vanished never to be seen again. Never-the-less, we braved on towards the waterfall and went all the way behind it to experience its fury as the winds lashed on.

Our beatiful home in the middle of nowehere. We reached this place after driving for about an hour in one of the internal roads from the main ring road. Its a beautiful house with high glass windows through which we could see the famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano which created havoc in 2011 causing air traffic in Europe to grind to a halt for many days.

 

We continued our drive till we reached our next stop - Skógafoss. Another stunning waterfall, much bigger than Seljalandsfoss. The wind and rain was still strong but we did manage to go near the fall and experience its power. There is also a hike up on the right side of the waterfall if you want to see it from the top. It started to rain heavily and It was also time to have a quick lunch in our car,, so we headed back which was a better option than to be both drenched and frozen outside.

 

Next stop - the unique Solheimasandur Plane Wreck. This United States Navy DC plane had crashed near the beach in 1973 due to techincal failure. Luckily all had survived. Getting to the spot takes about an hours walk over this barren landscape. There is a car park and from there the path is laid with yellow markers. Without the markers, we would surely have got lost in this black rocky landscape till infinity on all sides. This image is memorable to us as we experienced very strong and chilly cold winds for a good one hour before we made it to the wreck. Without proper head gear covering our faces, we would have not made it. 

 

Inside the plane, while most of the plane had disintegrated, whatever was left of the fuselage provided some relief from the wind outside. We observed the interiors and could'nt help but feel the scene as the plane would have made its way down here and crashed. The cockpit still had lots of the wiring intact whiile the engines were barely recognisable. 

We then headed back on another one hour long walk. We could feel small particles hitting whatever was exposed on our face. We also sometimes had to hold each other to avoid falling due to the wind.

 

Our next stop was Dyrhólaey Lighthouse. The car ride was uphill and very steep. The weather was'nt great but we still decided to head up to the peak to the lighthouse. We reached the top and its hard to explain the power of the wind on top of the cliff. I really struggled to open the vehicle door and then close it back. The wind was so strong it kept pushing the door hard so much that I even started to slip back.

We still braved on till the edge of the cliff and this is where things started to become a bit more adventurous than we would have liked. The edge of the this 100 meter high cliff had this amazing view below of the waves crashing on to the rocks and thousands of birds perched on the entire cliff wall. But to see that we had to really go to the edge and the wind was so strong that it could have blown us away and if we slipped from there, our bodies would never be found again. We went as far as we could and decided to go back to our car. 

 

We drove along the ring road to our next destination - the popular Reynisfjara Beach with its black sand, and rough waves. This beach is beautful but is also dangerous. There have been many cases of tourists underestimating the power of the waves and current here and drowning. So we decided to be at a safe distance from the waves. But we were amazed to see that one of the waves abruptly even reached the place where we were standing taking everyone by surprise. So yes this beach is certainly not a place to fool around. 

 

 

 

We continued driving and reached our next home - the  secluded Katla House.The Katla house was our third home on our road trip. The house is quite secluded with expanive views from the balcony. The house is named after a large volcano in this region whcih previously had errupted several times. After a good night's sleep, we woke up excited as it was the day for our Ice Cave Adventure tour.

 

 

We departed in the morning and drove back to the town of Vik where we boarded one of these monster trucks and headed towards the area which had the Ice Caves. These are all wheel drive vehicles with humongous tyres which ensure a bumpy but possible drive through the highland roads. After driving through a very muddy and snowy narrow road, we turned left onto a huge empty flat black land. The land was actually barren and flat as it was the path of destructiion when a dangerous flood occured here thousands of years back when Katla errupted. Its not so much the lava that flows here, instead its the consequent melt water from the glaciers that the locals fear most.

 

After driving for 20 more minutes, we arrived at an alien like terrain with snow peaks all around. We wore our helmets and anti-slip crampons for our shoes. Then we hiked over slippery ice paths towards the first ice cave. 

 

 

We walked in sub zero temperatures, to reach this amazing art work of ice - somewhat like zebra striped ice. These layers of alternating black and white and formed when snowfall compresses the ice into layers.

 

We walked into the cave and it was quite an experience to see the formation. They looked and felt like hard rock but it was actually hardenned ice. More pressure at the bottom made them totally black but as we go up the wall of ice, they turn lighter and eventually briliant blue right at the top. We hiked further and climbed a few feet of ice to reach another cave. We even managed to record a facebook live video here to share our experience live. 

Then the weather started to deteriorate and we were in the middle of heavy snowlfall and then almost a blizzard. We packed our camera gear and headed our way back to the truck.

 

Our Entire Iceland Trip Route - 3000 Kms

 

 

 

Written By Shounak Mondal

Lives in Hong Kong. Avid traveler ( 30+ countries and counting ), amateur photographer and writer Discovers purpose and meaning in life through travel.

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Shounak Mondal

Lives in Hong Kong. Avid traveler ( 30+ countries and counting ), amateur photographer and writer Discovers purpose and meaning in life through travel.

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