[Iceland Day 6] Skogarfoss & hike | Dyrholaey | Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach | Vik Church
It's our 6th day in Iceland!
Today, I am going to take you for a hike at Skogarfoss waterfall, plus other interesting attractions including the world-famous black-sand beach (Reynisfjara) along the way while we made our way to Vik, and eventually staying over at Kirkjubaejarklaustur (Man, that's a really long word). Without further ado, let's get going!
So I was saying we had a hike at Skogarfoss. Yes we did, I kid you not. Skogarfoss may not need elaborated introduction to many of you as it is always ranked as one of the top waterfalls in Iceland and it indeed attracts many tourists. However, climbing the 370 steps to the top of Skogarfoss waterfall to reward yourself with an awe-inspiring view out over Southern Iceland's coastline is not the end of the story.
We then found out it is actually the start of a hiking trail up the waterfall and if you have some extra time to spare, by all means, go for it!
This is where you say goodbye to other tourists when you climb over the fence and continue going up the river. You will be amazed by the view and and sceneries, and more waterfalls you get along the hike. The hike was really long and it seemed like there was no ending so eventually we turned back and hiked back to the entrance where we parked our campervan. It was after that we learned that the hiking trail is called Fimmvorduhals, which is one of the most popular hiking trails in Iceland! Enjoy the awesome captures we took during the hike. Oh, and look out for rainbow or sometimes double rainbows if you are lucky!
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After the long amazing hike which I can't really remember how long it took us, I guess about 3-4 hours? We grabbed our lunch at Fossbud Restaurant near Skogarfoss waterfall, before continuing our journey.
It only took us 30 minutes to reach Dyrholaey from Skogarfoss. Dyrholaey is a small peninsula with picturesque views, a lighthouse and a large arch of volcanic rock in the sea. The area is very cozy and relaxing, and I could easily spend a few hours here for a lazy day. This place is also famous for its prosperous birdlife in summer. We couldn't spot any puffin as we were there during shoulder season but if you are planning a summer vacation in Iceland and you are into wild life, do take note of this.
We marvelled at the breathtaking view when we were on top of Dyrholaey. Every direction shows marvellous views. In front of the peninsula sits the spectacular rock arch.
There was also a beautiful castle-shaped lighthouse which is a popular landmark to photograph amongst travellers. What is even cooler about this lighthouse is it has been renovated and converted into a private luxury hotel. How cool is that?! We didn't know it was actually a hotel when we visited and now I wonder if there was anyone from inside saw me making silly pose outside the lighthouse, haha! Feel free to view the hotel photos HERE.
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Everyone talks about white, pristine, soft-sand beaches but what about a black-sand beach? You may be surprised that it could look as amazing with a touch of wilderness and ruggedness. This makes Reynisfjara one of the must stop attractions during a South Iceland drive. It is not only Iceland-famous but world-famous as well and is regarded as the most impressive black-sand beach in Iceland.
To be frank, I was confused with the many Icelandic names that are related to the black-sand beach and always wondered which one is the correct word for it. After asking "Almighty Google", this is what I got:
- Reynisfjara : the black sand beach
- Reynisfjöru : the local word for Reynisfjara
- Reynishverfi : the village and area next to the black sand beach
- Reynisdrangar : the 66 m high rock pillars that stick out of the sea
- Reynisfjell : the 340 m high mountain with hexagonal-shaped basalt columns at the bottom
Thank you Danish from adventurousmiriam.com for the clear definitions!
Instead of fine black sand which I expected, Reynisfjara actually forms a layering where it starts with lots of black pebbles in various sizes to pitch black sand towards the waves. It was definitely very different from all the beaches I visited. It also created an impressive contrast of colours between the wave and the sand. Put on a pair of sturdy shoes as the pebbles aren't particularly easy to walk on. Make sure you dress warmly as well as it can be cold and windy here.
The spectacular natural cliff of basalt columns called Gardar was my favourite spot for photography. It was absolutely awe-inspiring with its marvellous form of pyramid-shaped steps. It was pretty unbelievable that this beautifully shaped columns were created by Mother Nature.
We walked further down and found a beautiful cave behind Gardar which is known as Halsanefshiller.
Further out the ocean stood the high rock pillars known as Reynisdrangar stacks which were believed to be two Icelandic sea trolls who tried to drag a three-masted ship to land but turned into stones unfortunately when daylight broke and the sun hit on them.
- The waves at Reynisfjara can be very aggressive and sneaky, and the undertow is extremely strong. The force is so strong that it has caused fatal accidents where the helpless victims were swept into the ocean without any warning. Hence, extra caution needs to be practiced whenever you are there. Do not go near to the waves and never turn your back to the water.
- During high tide, it is advisable to stay away from the basalt columns cave because you don't want to get caught inside when the tide is high.
We couldn't stop admiring the majestic sculptures along the black sand beach!
Vik i Myrdal Church
Vik is a famous village located at the Southernmost of Iceland. Despite its small size, it remains an important hub or service centre for inhabitants or visitors travelling from South to East Iceland. Vik is also the only seaside settlement in Iceland left without a harbour due to nature circumstances. It is hard to miss the iconic "red-roof church" in Vik which is known as Vikurkirkja in Icelandic. This church is located high on a hill, situated above the entire village hence offering a spectacular view of Vik, together with the ocean and the mountains all around.
According to Wikipedia:
Vík lies directly south of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which itself is on top of the Katla volcano. Katla has not erupted since 1918, and this longer than typical dormant period has led to speculation that an eruption may occur soon. An eruption of Katla could melt enough ice to trigger an enormous flash flood, potentially large enough to obliterate the entire town. The town's church, located high on a hill, is believed to be the only building that would survive such a flood. Thus, the people of Vík practice periodic drills and are trained to rush to the church at the first sign of an eruption.
After refilling the car fuel and buying some groceries in Vik, we decided to continue our journey to the next small town and stayed over at Kirkjubaejarklaustur campsite (Kirkjubaer II). Campsite rate: ISK 1300 per person (as at September 2016). Click here for more info of the campsite.
=End of Day Six= | =Stay tuned for Day Seven=
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Till next time~
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