Iceland – The land of water in three states of aggregation

We drift between the continents. Weightless in 2°C water of the Silfra Fissure. Touching the American continent with the left and the Eurasian continent with the right hand. Iceland is quite an amazing place. But its not the land of fire and ice, its the land of water in any state of aggregation. Here is our story.

05.03.2022: We are on board of an afternoon plane from Munich, northbound to Iceland. How did we get here? After a tough first 8 weeks of the year, we took took a chance on short notice to take a week of. And where else to go in March than to Iceland. We have a nice flight with huge legroom (which we got for 25€ each from Iceland Air).

After 4h, we touch down. The weather is like on a tropical beach. Only cold… And all the water is in the air…

We pick up our four-wheel drive from Avis and drive to Reykiavik. The car rental employee told us “If you don’t like the weather in Iceland, wait for 5min”. Not sure – it simply rains.

We stay at Center Hotel Arnarhvoll. Despite the rain, we visit the amazing Hallgrimskirkja.

On the way back, we stop at the fancy Kol for some nice seafood. We sleep well.

06.03.2022: We wake up early and have breakfast with a view. From the top floor windows, we watch the dusk creep over the horizon. We take a quick trip to town. We visit Hallgrimskirkja and the Harbor.

Then we turn our back on Reykiavik and go north. We drive through snowy landscape over snowy roads. Our destination is the Snaelfessness Peninsula.

First and most important stop is Kirkjufell. We arrive in a snowstorm. Once we made our way to the photo spot at the waterfall, the sun is shining. Slowly, we get what the car rental guy ment. We take pictures and enjoy the view.

We follow the highway 54 around the peninsula.

We stop at Mallarif lighthouse – for the only reason that we spot the vulcanic rock of Londranger. Its very windy but beautiful.

We continue down 54 until we reach Budir.  Sunshine turns into a snowstorm, just as we reach the black church in Budir. It looks like a scene in a broken black & white TV.

We check in to the phantastic Hotel Budir. Only downside, we need to cross the roof terrace (yes, its outside) to get to our room. We take a trip to the gas station in Olavsvik before dinner.

We have the 5 course tasting menue at the famed restaurant in the Hotel. Food is really good; my favorite is the smoked lamb.

Many guests made the hotel their only stay in Iceland, just to see the Northern Lights. We never subscribed to this approach. We believe that if you travel to visit the county, Northern Lights will come and be a nice addition.

We get our addition tonight, taking pictures with the Black Church as center piece. The US Northern Light watchers only head out to the hotel parking lot, just before we get back. We have just ordered a drink at the bar as they rush back in, screaming. The weather, again, turned within 5min from perfect Norther Lights weather to the perfect storm that has our American friends batteling to close the hotel door. We finish our drink and go to bed.

07.03.2022: After a phantastic breakfast, we head south towards the Golden Circle. This means driving back almost to Reykiavik. On the way we stop to take pictures with the iconic iceland ponys.

We turn left on highway 36, heading towards Thingvellir Park. Roads are very snowy. We drive slowly westward. In Thingvellir, we stop and take the walk of the dead to Öxárfoss. The name stems from former times, when this area was used for capital punishment. In recent years, it served as location for Game of Thrones (the Bloody Gate). The waterfall is frozen and has created wild shapes.

From Thingvellir, we head further west along the Golden Circle. Once we arrive at Geysir, we realize why we have seen so few cars in Iceland: They are all here. The area is increadibly crowded. Nonetheless, we watch a few eruptions of the Stokkur geysir. THE Geysir is dormant.

We get out of the tourist crowds as fast as we can and head to Gullfoss. However, here are similar hordes of tourists. Harsh wind blows in our faces as we take a few pictures from the upper platforms. Its a gigantic and beautiful waterfall, but the weather is to cold to linger.

We drive back to visit one waterfall we almost missed: Bruarfoss. From the parking lot, we need to hike ca. 45min, half the way along a beautiful and deep blue river. Bruarfoss may not be the biggest waterfall, but, man, is it coloful. We enjoy the beautiful scenery alone, only four hikers come by, later. We take the same way back and stop at Midfoss and Hlauptungufoss for more pictures.

From Bruarfoss its only a short drive to Reykholt where we stay at Blue Hotel Fagrilundur. The hotel is functional but very nice and the staff is increadibly friendly. We have dinner at restaurant Mika; two excellent pizzas. We take a dip in the hot tub, drink champagne an go to bed.

08.03.2022: Rain falls as we wake up. After breakfast, we decide to try our luck a bit further south. We hit the highway 32. Driving is not easy with a lot of ice and snow on the road. After a while, the sky clears and the sun comes out. After a beautiful drive, we arrive at Hjálparfoss. Beautiful waterfall and basalt rock foundations give us plenty of photo opportunities. Best of all, we are all by ourselves.

We need to turn back towards Thingvellir to arrive in time for our dive. We take a short lunch stop at some place that needs not to be remembered.

On time, at 14:15, we arrive at the Silfra meeting point of We split up: Michi goes with the snorkelers, I go diving. As no new buildings are allowed in Thingvellir, everything happens in vans. In the dive van, we do a quick briefing, change and put on our Bares neopren drysuits, semi-dry hood, gloves, a 15l tank and 10kg of weight.  From the parking lot, we walk across the street to the crack between the continents. America on the left and Eurasia on the right. The water is cozy 2°C. But as soon as I put my head under the water, everything else is forgotten. The visibility is amazing and the underwater landscape is breathtaking. The entry is not deep and we need to go over a shallow spot before we reach the photo spot – the spot where you can touch both continents.

The athmosphere is fantasitic; we are all by ourselves. We enter the cathedral, which is flooded by sunlight.

Next we got through a deeper narrow fissure. We ascent over a sandy slope and turn left into the lagoon.

I circle the lagoon and joint the others at the exit. 33min of dive time; I am not freezing but had a good chance to cool off. After the “hero picture”, we get to warm up by walking back to the parking lot with our 30kg of gear. We change back and drink a well deserved hot chocolate.

Its time for us to leave the Golden Circle. We head south to Selfoss, where we encounter the first traffic jam on the island. Route #1 is ice free and good to drive. We head southwest into the setting sun. We see the mighty Seljalandsfoss from the road and decide to stop. We take a few beautiful pictures and hike Glúfrabúi.

This waterfall is hidden behind steep rocks, but a small cave opens. I need to wade through the small river but manage to peak in and shoot a picture.

We take a last picture of the iluminated Seljalandsfoss.

In darkness, we continue our trip to Vík í Mýrdal where we stay at the Black Beach Suits in Nordurfoss.

09.03.2022: We leave early and reach Vík í Mýrdal shortly after sunrise.

We are alone at the church and enjoy the view.

We pick up some breakfast in town and stroll down the beach. Massive waves crash on the beach. I am a bit too enthusiastic when taking pictures and pay for it with wet feet.

We continue westward on highway #1. Along the way, we stop to photograph more Iceland ponys.

The weather is perfect and we make little progress as we stop frequently.

One of these stops is Laufskálavarða, an area where travelers would build carines, little stone mounds, for good luck bevore crossing the dessert.

As we move further west, we pass the mossy lava fields. Lava is reclaimed by nature. We walk the fields at a random place and in Eldhraun.

Behind the lava fields, we turn off the the main road until we reach Fjaðrárgljúfur. It is a beautiful canyon with a waterfall at its end. We walk for about 1h in perfect sunshine and take pictures.

We continue westward on #1 but only for a short while until we pass Foss a Sidu. We stop for pictures.

Then we take a long 2min drive to the basalt rocks of Dverghamrar.

Next planned stop is the grass covered village of Nupsstadur but the area is closed off by the owners. So we only take a shot from the distance and continue our journey.

We pass Lómagnúpur mountain as well as the uninteresting Skeiðará Bridge Monument before we enter the Skatafell area.

From the parking lot, we walk upward, following the Svartifoss hike. We pass a first waterfall and continue to climb upwards. Then we see Svartifoss. From the distance of the main viewpoint, it looks small.

I am one of the few that climb down the icy slope to the waterfall. From down here, the waterfall looks impressive. Overhanging basalt columns frame the falling water that disappears into an ice crater that has formed around the base. I take a few pictures and climb back up, only to convince Michi to also climb down.

We both make the tour a second time and take more, phantastic ptictures.

Once back at the parking lot, we have a snack an continue to the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. The wind has picked up and we have to lean into the storm. Few ice blocks float on the lagoon (i.e. have run aground).

With the setting sun, we step onto the diamond beach. Large and small ice crystals are scattered across the beach. Its a beautiful scene.

As wind (and rain) pick-up, we drive to our appartment Ekra in Reynivellir. Not the most beautiful appartment (while the rooms on the top floor have a beautiful view, our room is nestled in the back of the building). Unfortunately, there is no (visible) option for dinner so we eat our remaining snacks, watch TV and go to sleep.

10.03.2022: It rains cats & dogs as we head to Jökulsárlón for our glacier tour. We meet our guide after a quick muffin & coffee breakfast. The group quickly decides that it does not make sense to go on the glacier in this weather and we decide to only visit the ice cave instead. We get into a giant Ford Expedition Super Jeep and drive along the western side of the lagoon over a very bumpy road until its end. From there, we hike the remaining 30min through pouring rain until we reach the cave.

Its quite crowded but our guide does his best to get us some alone time in the different parts of the cave. The ice is beautiful; deep blue.

After we have taken our pictures, we turn back to the car. Despite full rain cover, we are pretty soaked. It was the right decision, not to climb the glacier.

We eat Fish&Chips to get our strenght back. Then we go back to the appartment to relax for the first time. We watch TV, work on pictures, blog and photo book. For dinner, we drive 2km to Gerdi’s Guesthouse. We eat lamb from their farm and a cake that is advertised as traditional recepie but has coconut in it – we have doubts. We watch a bit more TV after Dinner and go to bed.

11.03.2022: It still rains as we wake up. We pack, have breakfast at Gerdi’s and head east, again. We make a final stop at Diamond Beach. Its fascinating to see, how much the ice has changed in one day.

We continue our drive and stop at the basalt field of Kirkjugólf (the “church floor”) and Stjórnarfoss, which is close by.

The cave at Gígjagjáis not our favorite, but drive and beach are interesting.

We drive west, past Vik until we reach Skogafoss. Its crowded but the weather is fantastic. We see a double rainbow over the waterfall. We climb the lookout above the waterfall but are greeted by a snowstorm – the view is so so.

Our next stop is the DC-3 wreck; to be precise: the DC-3 parking lot. Its a 1h walk through a stone desert. We have no reference point. It feels like we are not moving at all. Finally, we reach the DC-3 (an old US supply plane that crashed with forzen engines). Luckily, all tourists fled a rain shower and we have the wreck to oursleves for a few minutes.

Tired from the long walk, we drive back to Vik, i.e. to the notorious Reynisfjara beach. The bech is prone to sneaker waves, i.e. waves that show up without warning (and have sucked in a few people). But the scenery is beautiful and we enjoy the sunset.

A bit cold, we check-in to hotel Vik and have a phantastic lamb dinner at the restaurant Berg. We sleep well tonight.

12.03.2022: Its our last day. We wake up early and take the chance to visit Reynisfjara beach at sunrise. We take a million pictures and enjoy the beautiful athomosphere.

Then we drive towards Reykiavik. We want to visit Seljalandsfoss but turn around directly, as soon as we see the tourist crowds (esp. since the walk behind the waterfall is still closed).

On the upside, this gives us time to eat at Fjöruborðið Restaurant in Stokkseyri. We take the 3-course menue (perfect choice) with a fantastic seafood soup and plenty of amazing langoustini in a perfect garlic butter. Cake tops of the meal. We are full to the brim.

We drive along the beautiful south coast until we turn north and reach our hotel, the Courtyard Marriotte. We take a short break before we vsit the blue lagoon. We spend relaxing two hours soaking in the warm water with drinks and silicia facial masks. Other than that, the lagoon feels like a british swimming pool. Its man-made and quite crowded. Nonetheless, we are happy that we went there.

We go back to the hotel for a final drink and call it an early night.

13.03.2022: We need to get up rediculously early (4:30) to catch our flight back to Munich. Car drop-off, check-in and security go smoothely and we are in our plane in notime. At 12:00 we touch down in Munich. The weather is perfect and we spend a beautiful evening in the English Garden reminiscing about our holidays.