I thought Gullfoss was pretty boring. Maybe it was because the sky was grey and threatening to rain. Or because we had just come from an exploding geyser which couldn’t fail to delight. Maybe it’s because I’m a spoilt travelling brat who couldn’t dispel the ‘It’s no Foz do Iguassu’ thoughts bubbling in my head. Whatever the reason, justified or not, the thrashing waters of the Golden Circle tourist attraction had failed to impress.
We’d had some insider advice though. The guys from Dohop, the Icelandic travel company through which we had won this once in a lifetime trip, had sent word of some spectacular falls further along the South Icelandic coast. We had hired a car for the day and had just about enough time to get there before dark, so we decided it was worth a shot.
The scenery in Iceland is out of this world. One minute you are driving through lava fields, the next it’s steaming geothermal rocks, mountains or lakes, volcanoes on the left, the smooth ocean to the right. We drove the 2 hours away from Reykjavik in practical silence, simply awed by the surroundings. Just when we thought we had gone too far and somehow missed what we had come to see, a tall plume of water appeared on the horizon, gushing from the top of a remarkable rock.
We had arrived in a land that looked like a J.R.R. Tolkien dream. In the middle of a flat, bronzed plane, barren for as far as the eye could see, was this magical waterfall, with accompanying stream and wooden bridge (I suspect a friendly troll lived beneath it along with his elf friends.) Our arrival coincided with a parting of the clouds, and as the sun made an appearance, we were treated to a fairy-tale rainbow. A single family picnicked by the water, 2 or 3 other visitors sat looking enchanted on a bench. I could have stayed there all day.
But there was more to see. Only 30 minutes up the road, according to our GPS, was the second of the secret waterfalls our Icelandic friends had told us about. With a quick use of the facilities, a lonely bathroom hut in impeccable order despite no sign of a person responsible, we hopped back in the car and continued further on the road away from civilisation.
It was always going to be hard living up to Seljalandsfoss but Skogafoss has a good try! A wider plume of water, Skogafoss is distinctive for the black sand it falls on. There is also a bit more going on in this area, there is a tiny town with places to stay and tour companies that take you out on the glacier. With better planning we may have chosen to stay out here to break up the drive and improve our chances at glancing the Northern Lights. But our hotel room in Reykjavik beckoned, so we took one last longing look and headed back to the city.
Here’s a little video montage of us chasing waterfalls in Iceland. It’s not going to win any awards but hopefully it gives you further insight into how magical the place is.