Waking up to Gullfoss was amazing, and we had already planned to chase a couple more waterfalls our second day. Before leaving we decided on breakfast – this is one of the many advantages of a camper, as cooking your own food saves lots of money especially with the prices in Iceland. Dieter was the chef, but there was a slight issue with the first meal. We didn’t really look at the salt when we bought it the previous day, so we ended up with something that definitely looked like salt…though it seemed odd it wasn’t in the shaker format, as you just reached in and pinched it out. It turns out we didn’t see the word ‘ammonia’ written on the bottle, so the scrambled eggs tasted like one part eggs, one part floor cleaner, and one part cat pee. Being a budding hypochondriac I looked up the potential health effects of this exposure and was reassured by Wikipedia that we were probably fine.
Icelandic is a difficult language…the first waterfall of the day was called Seljalandsfoss, and I have no idea how to pronounce it. Iceland was made famous in 2010 by another hard-to-pronounce natural wonder, the volcano Eyjafjallajokull, that erupted and shut down air travel in Europe for weeks. Even though I couldn’t say the name, the beauty of Seljalandsfoss was indisputable. At first I tried to climb up the rocks for a closer look, but eventually the risk of falling and breaking a leg outweighed the reward of a good picture. We settled for some great views from directly beneath and behind the waterfall. There was one particularly attractive section where you walked through a small cave to get directly in front, and the sun was streaming down into the gushing water. Walking around waterfalls has its negatives as well…both myself and my camera became quite muddy and for the first time on the trip I started day-dreaming of a shower. Also, with the constant water spray it was difficult to keep the camera lens protected and dry.
We went to Skogafoss next, which was a massive waterfall next to a lush, green hillside. There weren’t as many views to see here other than a straight-on shot of the water, and there weren’t any cool options like getting too close or going behind…we opted not to climb the hundred stairs for an over-the-top view.
Having had our fill of waterfalls for the day, we next drove to Dyrholaey. This is a small peninsula on the South coast of Iceland that has some interesting volcanic rock formations. It had the second black beach I’ve seen in a month, as Santorini had these as well…though it didn’t appear as if the beach here was as touristy, obviously due to the differences in climate. We also saw many people with binoculars, as this is a prime location for birdwatching. This was another place where I conquered my fear of heights for the sake of a good picture, often walking right up to a drop-off. I don’t recall seeing this too often in the US, as we’re so lawsuit-happy that protective barriers, or at least warning signs and roped-off edges, are common to prevent falls…here it seemed like a ‘do it at your own risk’ policy.
We set out driving and stopped briefly at the largest national park in Iceland, but were turned off by the 170 euro fee for the ‘glacier hike’. After hanging around the tourist office and using their restroom facilities, we searched for a place to set up camp. Most of this area was pretty barren, and we were quite a distance from the nearest inhabited town…in fact we saw more sheep during this drive than there were cars on the road. Luckily we found an incredible spot next to a glacier park. The view as you entered the park was stunning – hundreds of ice chunks floating in the water, with the sun dimming in the background. Only ‘dimming’ because Iceland never really gets dark in June, just dim for a couple hours each day.
We set up camp and I went to bed slightly early…my day chasing waterfalls coming to a close…and already thinking about breakfast at the glaciers the next morning!