Iceland’s South Coast – A day of glaciers, black sand and waterfalls (Day 2)

We had pre-booked a behemoth 16 hour Ice Cave Express day trip around the South Coast of Iceland with Goecco Tours, Reykjavik. It did not come cheap at $385 per person and was a pretty intense day trip but in retrospect, it was worth every $. With the sights we saw, it may even be better value than the much cheaper Golden Circle tour (Day 3). We’ll describe the sights we saw along with things unique to our visit (or if you’ve seen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, you’ve already seen some of this beautiful part of the world)

Driving through the South Coast

There was a minimum of an hour between any 2 destinations of this trip meaning a LOT of time was spent on the bus. However, the drive is just so beautiful. One moment, it would look like Scotland. On another, we were passing through a lava field the size of Singapore & covered with moss. There was never a dull moment during the drive in the daytime hours.

Unique personal experiences

We saw a small arctic fox running up a hill, a relatively rare sighting. Even the tour guides were excited, stopping mid-speech to point it out. They’re extremely cute animals! Here’s a pic from IG.

Because there are so few daylight hours this time of the year in Iceland, it was pitch dark when we left Reykjavik at 7:30 AM. Dawn was almost 2 hours long till daybreak arrived at around 10 AM forcing Dalek to comment on how Icelandic mornings are “long dawn out”(geddit?).

Skogafoss (30 minutes)

This waterfall looked a bit small from afar but we realized how awe-inspiring it is on coming up close. It was a beautiful shape & had a strong mist surrounding it. There were also a number of birds nesting around the falls adding to the charm. It was our first time stepping on the black volcanic soil and a great opportunity to shoot pics that we converted to B&W later.

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A lot of Iceland looks great in B&W..

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..or in colour, your choice

Reynisfjara Black Pebble Beach (40 minutes)

Wow. This place was a force of nature with waves crashing on a beautiful black sand & pebble beach with unbelievable force. The reason for this is that there is no landmass from that beach all the way to Antarctica!! (makes one feel tiny, doesn’t it?). We took a long walk towards a rock structure that kind of looked like Durdle Door in Dorset, England and took many, many pictures that we’re quite happy with. Do not miss the uniquely stacked volcanic rocks seen on the left while entering the beach, very similar to Staffa, Scotland.

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Footprints on the black sand leading to serene spots

Unique personal experiences

Just before our allotted time was about to end, we were treated to a gigantic rainbow with one end on the black sand beach. What a beautiful sight to end our visit!

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The pot of gold was too far off!

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon (40 minutes)

The best part about this trip was that it felt like the perfect musical. Each attraction built up to lead us seamlessly to the next. We cannot find the right adjectives to describe the Glacier Lagoon, it is simply unbelievable and an unmissable thing to see in Iceland.

The first 20 minutes were spent in exploring the fine black sand at the lagoon beach where chunks of glacier ice had ended up (and obviously get our pictures taken :P). Then we walked a bit inland toward the car park and the glacier itself to capture some big pieces of blue ice (no relation to Breaking Bad) glittering like diamonds on the black velvet sand through our camera.

Unique personal experience

We saw a wild seal swimming just at the mouth of the lagoon long enough to capture its bobbing head.

Vatnajökull Glacier Walk (1 hour+)

We had been warned from the beginning that there was only a 50/50 chance of seeing the ice caves due to an unreasonably warm winter. At the Glacier Lagoon, this was confirmed and our plan was changed to a glacier walk instead on an edge of Europe’s largest glacier by volume.

We’re not even mad! It was the longest leg of our trip and the glacier guides took their time to deck us out with gear before leading us to a spellbinding show of nature. The ice really is that pretty shade of blue with black veins (volcanic ash trapped in glacial ice) at some points. A once-in-a-lifetime experience for us, the sound of silence interrupted only by the scrunching ice under our feet is unforgettable. 🙂 The guides also managed to squeeze out all possible sunlight minutes and it got pitch dark just as we reached our bus!

Word of warning: Do not venture into glaciers without proper supervision; we cannot count how many times we’ve been saved from sinking into a melted tunnel of ice thanks to our guides.

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A few black veins to complement the blue

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Returning gear in dying light

Food and a final waterfall

Food was gas station diner fare where we supplemented our snacks with some Icelandic Lamb Soup (1800 ISK). However, the gas station had a great Icelandic candy collection including gummy Liquorice that Dalek had once branded the tears of Satan (Yoda loves those). Bought some liquorice (350 ISK) and saw bubble gum in a tube!

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Obviously called Tubble Gum

Our final waterfall was the Seljalandsfoss which is the only one lit up artifically at night. It did look beautiful but after the sights of the whole day, we maybe didn’t appreciate it as much as we should have. 😦 Interestingly, our tour guide recommended watching a certain (“muted” 😛 ) music video to give you a feel for southern Iceland.

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Apparently part of a Bieber video

Practical tips for this tour

  • Take a ton of food with you. There are no lunch stops, just a bakery stop early and then a Vik dinner stop at the way back. Even the gas station diner was pretty expensive so carry sandwiches & snacks with you (we raided Bonus the previous day).
  • Dress in layers including one waterproof layer. We were very lucky to get almost all the rain on the day when the bus was in motion. We also needed a thermal layer though it wasn’t much colder than the UK.
  • The Reynisfjara beach has a lot of water spray at the entrance near the stone stack. Walk a bit to the right to get dry lens pictures.
  • Do not have an early tour the next day as well. You will be exhausted by the end of this trip but will be insanely happy too.
  • Take loads of pictures and sit near the front of the bus on the left. We have had to stop ourselves from posting more than the 18 pics on here, could have easily put in 50. Follow our Instagram for pics not on the post yet.

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