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  • Writer's pictureMark Lewis

Iceland Full Circle - Part 2 (The South)

The Route

Our travel agent laid out the route which would take us counter clockwise, starting in the southern part of the country and then heading southeast. After we picked up our rental car we got on the road and exited the city of Reykjavik. We reached Route 1, aka the Ring Road, and were out of the city in about 20 minutes. There were lots of sights to see on the way to our first destination. Route 1, despite being the major highway around the country, is a two lane highway—one lane each way. Sometimes the road narrowed to one lane when crossing bridges and going through tunnels, necessitating driver courtesy and communication.

Ancient Rock Formations & Great Burgers

Our first major destination was Þingvellir. Þingvellir is the national shrine of Iceland and plays an important part in its history. There are lots of ancient rock formations and a canyon which was formed by two tectonic plates. The walking paths are all paved and suitable for most anyone. Below are a couple of shots I got from the main path.

We got back on the road and by this time we wanted some food. Our travel agent referred us to Efstidalur, a working farm with a café. While I like nature I've got little exposure to farm life but was game to explore. Susanna (my wife) was the navigator for this trip. Based on the paper map and GPS we followed the directions and ended up getting off the main road onto a gravel road, the first of many on this trip. At first I wasn’t sure we were headed to the right place as it looked like we were headed to someone’s home and the road was empty but after a few minutes we pulled up to the farm. The outside décor is what you would picture a farm to be but I wasn’t sure what to expect. That New Yorker in me is always a bit suspicious and thinking “what’s going on here.”

We went inside and were surprised to find a nicely decorated restaurant with a farm attached. We got seated and checked out the menu. While checking out the menu I looked to my left through a plate glass window and downward. I saw a few cows no more than 40 feet from us eating hay. I looked at the menu again and thought, I want a burger. It was probably one of the best burgers I’ve had and to top it off it came with a fried egg on top.

Geysers, Waterfalls and Gravel Roads

Next up on the list was the geyser in Strokkur, one of the most popular geysers in Iceland. It erupts every 6 – 10 minutes and I was thankful because this place was pretty crowded and we wanted to avoid the crowds as much as possible on this trip. I had seen geysers before on a previous trip to Montana / Wyoming so this wasn’t new to me but it is quite an amazing thing to witness the earth’s natural geo-thermic activity and how it makes its way to the surface. Said another way, the earth is hot as hell and not to be messed with.

We bid a hasty retreat to the car and got back on the road to our next wonder; the Gulfoss waterfall. This was truly a stunning experience and quite different from the geysers. Iceland is known for their waterfalls and you’ll definitely get your fill as you drive throughout the country. As we walked to the Gulfoss waterfall you could hear its power. Once you got closer you could feel its power and as you got even closer the mist just covered you making it a surreal experience.

I also thought the people jockeying for the views and photos made for interesting subjects at the waterfall.

After experiencing such different and dramatic landscapes in such a short span of time Susanna and I had a lot to reflect on. As we made our way to the hotel the last few miles of that journey took us off the ring road and onto a dirt road, route 264, the first of several we would experience on this trip. While we were forced to drive very slowly, the scenery was stunning and peaceful. This was another experience of wondering where we were going and whether we were on the right road when at last a big house came into view and it was indeed our hotel. The next day we got an early start and took a few shots from the gravel road of the surrounding landscape.

We continued our drive back to the paved road onto our next destinations to round out our view of the south over two to three days;

waterfalls in Seljalandsfoss

waterfall in Skógafoss

the Reynisfjara black sand beach in Vik

Glacier Lagoon in Jökulsárlón

Thanks for reading. To access the next blog post from this series, click here. You can also see more of my Iceland photos in the Scapes section of my site.


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