Well campervan accommodation lived up to everything we expected. Cold, not too comfy if you lie on your shoulder and hideous to get out of the sleeping bag! We endured, mustered all of our might and arose from our pit. Cleverly, we had brought porridge, rice & lentils from home which provided us with lunches and breakfast and we made the most of the facilities prior to leaving. We also chatted with a couple from Utah, who as well as the guys last night, ended up passing on a helpful Lonely Planet book, which we urge people to consider when coming to Iceland.
Departing at approximately 10:30, we headed to the Secret Lagoon as opposed to the popular, picturesque Blue Lagoon. Tourist info tells us that Icelandic’s head to the Secret Lagoon and that the Blue Lagoon has an extremely good marketing team. Either way, the Secret Lagoon was lovely and exactly what was needed (but maybe at the end of our trip!). It took ninety minutes to get there and the satnav took us directly there, although the building you go through to access it isn’t clear, the steam seeping from the thermal water is evident above.
For me (Oli), the novelty wore off after a while. I put this down to not particularly enjoying hot baths. Both of us decided that an hour and a half was sufficient and we got out, using our blankets as towels as our hosts forgot to put them in! (Trust us, this wore very thin by the end of the week!).
This was a day for waterfalls! The South East boasts some of Iceland’s finest. Seljalandsfoss & Skogafoss are two but along the scenic drive, there are plenty to gawp upon through the mountain crevices. Seljalandsfoss comes first and prior to describing what a million bloggers have already done, it’s worth pointing out the “creepy” waterfall nearby. A 10 minute walk left from Seljalandsfoss and a little climb is Gljufrabui waterfalls which waters cascade down into an abyss. It’s not for the faint hearted and if you’re like me, your legs may start to wobble!
Back to the piece de resistance! Seljalandsfoss is rich in black volcanic glass, formed by volcanic eruptions underwater or under ice. The alcove has been formed by erosion caused by moisture, the constant battering of the descending water and time… Lots of time! This ended up being Rachael’s favourite waterfall. It was extremely close to mine, yet you’ll have to wait and see what stole my heart! One key piece of advice, BRING WATERPROOFS! Going anywhere near this thing splatters you with glacial mist and quickly you become drenched in wonder… & water. There’s access to the rear of the waterfall and the 360 walkway produces an infinite amount of incredible photo opportunities. The refraction that occurs between the light and water often produces one or two rainbows too. We spent ninety minutes here before heading to Skogafoss.
Skogafoss is around thirty minutes away and although potentially not as impressive, it seems grander than its rival. There’s a walkway to the top of this one and although the stairs may seem daunting, it’s nice to stretch out your pins and take in the surrounding area. There’s a day hike here name Fimmvorduhals for all you walkers out there. Picture’s done, we ventured another twenty minutes down the road to see the Solheimajokull glacier. It was a forty minute trip to Skogafoss.
This was another WOW part of our week. When you pull into the car park, we felt blissfully unaware of the wonder around the corner. The walk is short, maybe fifteen minutes until you’re at the ice but it is so worth it! The ice differs from white to black and the glacier is accessible, albeit ill-advised and recommended to get a guide. We rode solo & got some pretty awesome pictures!
Afterwards, we went to see the eery plane wreckage of Solheimasandur. The U.S. navy plane crashed in 1973 after running out of fuel and has been a point of interest for tourists since. The good news – everyone survived. The bad news – the walk to get there! We were informed by our American compadres the night before that the Solheimasandur walk feels like it should be close but it’s expansiveness is deceptive and it takes forty minutes to get there. Feeling that this may have been hyperbole, we got our walk on down the path. Twenty minutes passed, nothing had changed. Then thirty. Forty creeped up and our van looked like a dot in the distance. It took us fifty god damn minutes to get there! I can’t wait for Uber to introduce it’s shuttle service to this attraction! It’s quite eery wandering around it and even though we were there at 7:30PM, there were still enough tourists around. The plane had been ruined by some graffiti, which did spoil its charm and entailed us not being blown away here, especially as we knew about the walk back.
After what seemed an eternity, we reached the van. Rachael had scouted out a potential campsite called Pakgill, tucked away off of Route one. The road is extremely treacherous and takes 45 minutes of 20km/h driving. I’m not ashamed to admit I bottled it after 20 minutes, opting to go to nearby Vik camping. It’s a shame as the cooking area at Pakgill was tucked away into a mountainous cave, with candles and fairy lights surrounding you whilst you’re drowned out by green hills.
It really turned out to be a shame. Vik camping, at 1500IKR per person, was really quite dire, especially in comparison to Selfoss. The kitchen facilities were small, there were no hobs and to make matters worse, the previous renter didn’t refill our gas so we had nothing hot other than a kettle! Don’t get me started on the bathroom facilities either!! This was also our first taste of having to pay for a shower, 400IKR for the privilege. We declined the offer & went to bed, cold and grumpy!