Katla, Waterfalls, and Black Sand Beaches
This morning luggage is out and we are on the bus at 9 for our one night in the country and another chance for the Northern Lights! Today's bus is an 'all terrain' vehicle to accommodate any and all conditions! As the sun does not come up until 10:30ish and it is raining we have an opportunity to rest our eyes and listen to our guide list the upcoming sites of the day! The journey through the stunning landscapes of Iceland's south coast - the land of Njal's Saga (13th century Icelandic saga that describes events between 960 and 1020) of breathtaking scenery and legendary stories.
Our first waterfall is Seljalandsfoss where there are more tourists than we have encountered outside of Reykjavik - tourists with tripods, go-pros, even drones taking pictures. This is one of the most visited sites in Iceland as one can walk behind the waterfall, which we opted to not do! The day of waterfalls took us to Skogarfoss next - another magnificent site. It is 82 ft wide with a drop of 200 ft. This waterfall is on the Skoga river at the cliffs of the former coastline. The coastline has receded seaward and the cliffs/waterfall are now 3 miles from the coast. As Iceland has some 30 active volcanoes, we have an opportunity to see several as we drive along the coast - luckily none decided to erupt as we were in the vicinity! Hella volcano is one of the most active having last erupted in February 2000 and has produced one of the largest volumes of lava in the last millennium. The most well known is Eyjafjallajokull which erupted in April 2010 and shut down European air traffic for 8 days. This volcano had experienced 3000 earthquakes over a couple of months leading up to the eruption. The activity was monitored and 800 people were evacuated before the volcano erupted. The interesting thing is that air traffic was still active in and out of Reykjavik, due to the ash being blown away from Iceland. Along the coast we stop at the sea cliffs of Dyrholaey a dramatic promontory (peninsula), formerly an island of volcanic origin. We walked on the black sand beach and got up close and personal with the basalt columnar - this is the same basalt columnars used at the Lutheran Parish church in Reykjavik. We then arrive at Hotel Katla near the village of Vik. The hotel is at the base of Katla volcano (another active volcano) which has an icecap known as Myrdalsjokull Glacier. The fear of ice cap glaciers on volcanoes is not the ash and lava, but flooding that might occur if the volcano erupts melting the ice and glacier. The hotel is a very charming hotel in a rustic setting - however we arrived in the dark and rain and left the next morning in the dark and rain! thus not able to enjoy the facilities which included an outdoor geothermal pool. This was our last possibility of seeing the Northern Lights on this trip. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate with us as it rained all night - thus no clear skies! JC