What a day! The trifecta of endless days, a super tour guide, and so many incredible sights to explore made our first day in Iceland feel like we conquered the world. Here it is almost midnight as I write this post on the bus ride back, and it’s still light enough that I don’t even need backlighting on my computer. It’s hard to believe we covered so much in one day – what started out to be a normal but full, 12 hour tour day, turned into a marathon of sightseeing. Sixteen hours later and we are still an hour away from our hotel in Reyjkavik. Hilmar, our tour guide, is so knowledgeable and easy going that we found ourselves enthusiastically agreeing to stop at every little extra along the way. And let me tell you, not a one wasn’t completely worth it! Not even the Seljalandsfoss waterfall that I found myself dragging my tired kids to at 11pm. How was this one different from the other 2 falls we saw today? We were able to experience this natural beauty from a path behind, where you could feel the beat of the falls in your chest, and the spray of the falls on your head.
There are so many tour choices in Iceland. Each one promising an exciting adventure. We chose to explore the southernmost part of the country targeting the glacier lagoon of Jökulsárlón, with a tour company called Gateway to Iceland (www.gtice.is ). We liked that they use small buses that only hold up to 19 people. What we got, in addition to the scheduled glacier lagoon tour, was the following:
- A 30 minute stop in the town of Vik, to explore the amazingly beautiful black sand beach (the primary goal of my 14y olds trip to Iceland and a favorite of all 3 of us).
- A 45 min stop at Svartifoss (Black Falls)where we hiked about 20 minutes uphill, over some beautiful grassy terrain, to a stunning waterfall surrounded by black basalt columns
- A 15 min stop at a tiny town called Höfn, with a storybook grass roofed church, and graveyard with a gravestone of a woman who died in 2006 at 109 years old
- A 45 minute hike along a stunning canyon with rolling hills, peppered with sheep
- A quick 20 minute stop at the dramatically high Skogafoss falls where we could walk right up to the base of the pounding water.
- A SECOND stop at the town of Vik at the black sand beach because we missed the puffins the first time around.
Finally, the aforementioned Seljalandsfoss falls where we stopped at 11pm.
Since we had been out all day with no chance to recharge our phones, we sadly didn’t get any photos!
The centerpiece of our entire experience happened in the middle of the day at the glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón. We arrived just in time for our 3pm boat reservation for our 45 minute tour. Here we climbed aboard an amphibian boat that trundled along a black sand beach for a few minutes, before plunging into the icy cold blue, green water of the glacier lagoon. A breathtaking spin around the lake left us overwhelmed with the beauty of the blue hued icebergs floating in the lagoon. Photos couldn’t even do justice to the shades of blue, white and grey contrasted again the lagoon water. This place is a photographers dream (wish I were a photographer)!
We even got a chance to hold and taste 1,000 year old ice plucked right from the lagoon.
We started our visit in Iceland with a bang! Every stop had something new and exciting to offer. This will be a hard trip to beat!