We spent our first day in Iceland in Reykjavik and The Golden Circle, popular tourist destinations. You can read about that part of my trip in My Iceland Road Trip: Part 2. After leaving the Golden Circle, we headed to the southern coast, which was more isolated. In one day, we soaked in a natural hot spring, explored behind waterfalls, snowmobiled on a glacier overlooking the ocean and saw the Aurora Borealis. Pretty good use of 24 hours, right?
On the way from the Golden Circle to the Hotel Ranga, we turned off the road to one of Iceland’s really cool natural hot pools. The pool that we stopped at has a darling little house to change in. Historically, it was used to funnel sheep into to clean them in the hot running spring. Thankfully, that was a long time ago, so we were able to spend some peaceful time alone soaking among the vast rolling green hills submerged in sheep-free hot water. Here is a great article that gives you some more options of hot springs around all around Iceland to enjoy.
We stayed the night at Hotel Ranga, which was the most luxurious of our lodgings (it is Iceland’s only four-star hotel), but completely worth it. It is a wooden ranch-style hotel on a vast isolated plain. Right outside of all the rooms are jacuzzi tubs to soak in. Because of its isolation, this can be a great place to view the Northern Lights without having to take a tour into the wilderness. The hotel will alert guests when the lights are visible, so you can be sure not to miss them. The Aurora Borealis was one of the main reasons that I chose to visit Iceland and this was the first of three times we were able to see them, all unplanned. We were eating dinner at the hotel’s beautiful dining room, which serves great Icelandic meals in front of big windows. The bells rang alerting us of the Northern Lights, and we walked right out the front door to a dinner show of colorful lights moving through the dark night sky.
The next day, we headed into Vatnajökull National Park for a mountainous hike through the colorful shrubbery. The Svartifoss trail is a moderate one and a half mile hike that ends in Svartifoss Waterfall, or Black Falls, a semicircular fall with striking black basalt columns.
We next headed to one of my favorite experiences- one that I was afraid to do. My friend, Jayne, sort of dragged me along, but I’m so glad I went! By the coast, where we had spent all of our time, the temperature stayed in the fifties, but we were told that it would be much colder where we were going, so we were provided with cold weather clothes and taken up onto the Langjökull glacier in an adventurous off-road ride. We then jumped on our snowmobiles and headed into the snow that was falling in near white-out conditions. At some point, the white cleared and we were provided a view of the dark blue stormy ocean and Icelandic coast. The water in Iceland was so tumultuous and alive, like the whole landscape of Iceland itself. This experience is proof it is worth it to get over your fears and just get out there!
One wonderful thing about Iceland, was that all each site we visited was conveniently located along a main road. The last thing we did on this day was to visit Seljalandsfoss ,which is visible from the Ring Road and only a ten-minute walk. It is a unique waterfall because it has a hiking trail that goes behind the waterfall, which is a cool perspective. We also explored some abandoned farm buildings and another close falls, Gljufurarfoss, which is a slot canyon fall, so you look at a waterfall coming down from a break in the rocks.
Another sublime, exciting and fun-filled day in Iceland! Subscribe here to get my next and last post about our fall road trip there soon where I will be taking you to see icebergs breaking off of a glacier and floating out to sea and of course, our massage in the water at the Blue Lagoon.