Reynisfjara Beach, Jun 19th

As the name implies, this is a beach walk more than a hike, and the main attraction is a huge columnar basalt wall that sits on the eastern side of the beach.

It’s also impressive due to the contrast between the soft gray, almost white color of the basalt and the dark grey and black sand it sits on.

As with most places in Iceland, lots of people visit these places and in this particular case, they climb on the rocks to take pictures. While waiting to get a chance to take a picture without people on the rocks, I decided to continue walking along the beach to end and even jump over some rocks and explore the cost line a bit. On that little section of coast, I found solitude but also more rock formations. I’m used to see columnar formations that are mostly straight but here, they go in all directions bending and twisting giving the whole image a more dynamic feel.

As I walked on, I notice that the black sand below my feet was not actual sand but tiny black pebbles. At a certain point I decided to get on my knees to take a close-up picture without noticing the wave breaking behind me and splashing all over.

Aside from getting my feet wet, I noticed pebbles flying all over the place with each wave break.

After a while I walked back around and saw my next destination at the other end of this black sand beach.

Fjadrargljufur, Jun 19th

Now try to say that three times quickly. This was a short hike with some very interesting sights. The hike starts from the road and follows the eastern side of the Fjadra gorge. The gorge itself is not much longer than a mile and only spans the last section of the Fjadra river before it joins the Skafta river.

As you climb on the side of the gorge, rock walls start growing on both sides mixing the greenery of grass with the different shades of brown. It looks like the earth was simply torn apart right at this point.

There are several outcrops that allow you to get closer to the edge and see the snaking river down below and some small waterfalls before the whole thing disappears into the rolling hills behinds.

It’s one of those places I visited where I wished I had river shoes to walk on the river bed and explore the bottom of the gorge as well. Perhaps another time

Gulfoss, Jun 18th

My last stop for the day was a short hike but something I didn’t want to miss. Gulfoss is a waterfall along the Hvita river, but what makes it interesting is the double turn it makes in the two tiers. From the park entrance, there are numerous path to several viewpoints that give you different perspectives of the waterfall. From the very top, you can see both tiers. The first drops its waters at an angle with the river making it really wide to then quickly turn the other way for another drop into a very tight canyon where the river seems to disappear into an abyss. Huge plumes of moisture come out of the second tier just hinting at the power and amount of water that flows in there.

After watching from the top, I took the path that goes down and passes by the edge of the lower fall. In the middle you have to cover yourself as the mist can get you soaked in a matter of seconds. From the corner you finally get a glimpse at the lower canyon and how thin it is.

The end of the trail goes to a rock outcrop that puts you eye level and very close to the upper tier which also has multiple smaller steps. While there I noticed the sky turning purple and darkening as rain was coming over. It was quite a site to see.

Since rain held off for a bit, I finished the visit by taking the upper trail that stays above the canyon looking down at the waterfall from above and almost behind.

Geysir, Jun 18th

Next stop in my big Iceland adventure was Geysir. This is a small park with some trails around a couple of geysers and bubbling pools. Right from the parking lot you can see the water vapor emanating from the ground, but the biggest attraction is a couple of geysers that shot up in the air every few minutes.

I started walking towards Strokkur, the most active and regular of geysers as it went up, to then continue towards some of the pools. Even though you can see steam and some bubbling these are not active or as regular. It was still incredible to see the color of the water and how deep they go

From there, I took a path to the top of a Lupine covered hill that opens views to the entire area and far beyond.

Then, on my way down, I decided to jut sit with the camera and wait for the Strokkur to go up. It was quite fascinating to see the water bubbling up and down as it heated up and then abruptly bubble up and explode leaving an empty hole behind.

Most of the water comes back don to the same pool but some of it runs down the hill leaving sediments behind that look like the surface on another planet

You can see the rest of the pictures here

Thingvellir National Park, Jun 18th

Located on the western side of the south Icelandic coast, Thingvellir has some interesting topography and history. On the natural side, the park is in an area where the continental tectonic plates meet. Nowhere else in Iceland, or the world for that matter, you can walk on the Mid Atlantic Rift. This means that, as you walk, you have one tectonic plate on each side. You are literally in the line that divided the continents. Along that path you can visit Oxarafoss, a short but beautiful waterfall that falls from one continent into the rift.

Other trails cross deep channels filled with water so blue and so deep that it’ll give you the idea the go all the way to the center of the planet.

Aside from the geology aspect. Thingvellir has historic importance as well. Most settlers started to arrive in the late 800 from Norway starting communities along the Icelandic coast. Since each clan wanted to force their own believes and rules, it became necessary to create a general assembly to create the rule of the land. The location for this assembly became Thingvellir which literally translates as “Fields of Parliament”. This parliament functions still today in Reykjavik making it the longest running parliament

You can see the rest of the pictures here