The morning of my South Coast Tour, I waited outside Hotel Holt for the Extreme Iceland bus to scoop me up. I had a rocky start to the day after I spilled a cup of coffee all down myself and on my notebook while I was trying to enjoy the complimentary continental breakfast. This unfortunate event sent me running back to my room to change while apologizing to everyone I passed for making a mess. I tried to salvage the outfit, but it was no good so I changed and hurried back downstairs to jump on the bus, still smelling a bit like coffee.
We had a relatively small group of seventeen people plus our guide, Icelandic Harrison Ford (aka Siggy), and everyone was chatting excitedly as we left Reykjavik. The landscapes we passed were otherworldly; scruffy green hills, golden fields for miles, mountains and ridges. We passed Icelandic horses (shorter and prettier than American horses) and tons of fluffy sheep (fun fact: there are three sheep to every one human in Iceland).
The bus stopped briefly for a bathroom/coffee break before moving to our first South Coast stop of the day: Seljalandsfoss. This gorgeous waterfall stopped me in my tracks. This is exactly what I came to Iceland to see and it hit me right in the gut. The waterfall cascades from a cliff into a small pool, with an inlet carved out behind it so it’s possible to hike all the way around the fall. Sets of stairs were situated on both sides that were perfect for photo ops. The view from behind the waterfalls was breathtaking. Jagged rocks led down to the pool where the falls landed, where it was possible to wade in a bit.
It was also very wet, and everyone came out on the other side a little damper than before. We were given thirty minutes to explore this waterfall and the area around it, which included a couple other small waterfalls and green grass as far as the eye could see. I bonded with a mother/daughter team from London during the first stop. They were from right by where I lived when I studied abroad in London, which gave us plenty to talk about. Making friends on the tour was really easy because we were all on the same small bus for the whole day, which was very nice. Of course there were some rotten apples in the bunch, but only a couple (I’m looking at you girl who ate a stinky sandwich on the bus and loudmouth that absolutely had to be the center of attention at all times).
Once we all piled back onto the bus, we headed to our next site, another waterfall named Skogafoss. While this waterfall is very different from Seljalandsfoss in appearance, it is equally as beautiful. Skogafoss is wider and taller, with a staircase snaking up one side that leads to a hiking trail (Laugavegurinn pass) that National Geographic named one of the 10 best in the world.
A rainbow stretched across the bottom of the falls, where a pool stretched over the rocky ground. There are three vantage points from which to see this waterfall: from the ground, halfway up and from the top. At the halfway point, there is a very small peninsula of land jutting out from the cliff, no railings, no safeguards. I have just a small fear of heights so it was a little scary on that ledge, but the view was beautiful.
At the top of the waterfall, there’s a barbed wire fence with a slanted wooden ladder to climb over it. This leads to the famous hike that goes along the Skoga River, where there are more waterfalls and lush green hills. The scenery here looks like something out of Lord of the Rings, it’s stunning.
I would love to come back and hike the trail; it was really tempting not to go off and let the tour go on without me. Unfortunately, I resisted the urge to split from the group and made my way back down from the top of the waterfall back to the bus. The next stops were going to be the fishing town of Vik for lunch, the Black Sand Beach and the Solheimajokull Glacier. Stay tuned for the second half of the South Coast Tour, coming soon!
Have you ever taken a group tour? Where at? And did you enjoy it?
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