The Icelandic south shore is a landscape sculpted by glaciers and fire, a tapestry of black sand beaches, cascading waterfalls, and towering rock formations. Embarking on a day trip from Reykjavik, we discovered the raw beauty of this region, each stop revealing a new wonder.
The first thing we noticed was there were no trees. Our guide explained that when Iceland was founded, there was a need for shelter and heat. With no plans, the settlers chopped down almost all the trees for housing and heat and depleted the forests. The government now has a reforesting program, but it is a slow process.
Waterfalls that mesmerize
Our journey began with awe-inspiring waterfalls. Seljalandsfoss, a 60-meter cascade, plunges into a cavern, allowing you to walk behind its water curtain. The trek behind the waterfall is rocky, wet, and slippery, so be careful.
Further down the road, Skogafoss, a mighty torrent, roars down a 62-meter cliff, sending rainbows shimmering across the spray.
Black sand meets basalt
At Reynisfjara, the black sand beach stretches like a ribbon, contrasting dramatically with the white-tipped waves. Towering basalt sea stacks, Reynisdrangar, rise from the ocean like mythical sentinels, their jagged peaks echoing the volcanic forces that shaped this land.
We saw hundreds of puffins on the cliffs here, along with a stern warning from our guide not to go close to the water. The area is known for its rouge waves that sweep unsuspecting tourists to their deaths.
The journey continued to Solheimajokull, an outlet glacier of the mighty Mýrdalsjökull volcano. We embarked on a short hike, the crunch of ice beneath our boots a constant reminder of the glacial presence. The sheer scale of the ice mass, sculpted with crevasses and meltwater streams, was both humbling and awe-inspiring.
You can take a tour to climb the glacier, but we didn’t have time. Chunks of the glacier have broken off and are sprinkled around the river flowing from the glacier.
A touch of charm
The coastal town of Vik (population 300) provided a welcome respite. Quaint houses nestled under the watchful gaze of Reynisdrangar, and the black sand beach offered a serene setting for a stroll. The small church at the top of the hill is picture-worthy.
Memories etched in ice and fire
As the day drew close, we felt a deep connection with Iceland’s rugged beauty. The south shore had left an indelible mark, its powerful landscapes and unique formations etched in my memory. This day trip was a journey through time and nature, a reminder of the transformative power of the elements.
Whether you’re an avid hiker, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking a day of wonder, a south shore tour from Reykjavik is an unforgettable experience. It’s a chance to witness nature’s raw power, stand before glaciers and waterfalls, and leave with memories that will last a lifetime.