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Iceland in winter - Part 4 - The waterfalls

This is the 4th part of our winter Iceland adventure, if you haven't read the first one you should start here: https://www.gyorgypalko.com/post/izland-telen-1-resz

Make sure you watch our two shortfilms about Iceland as an introduction: https://youtu.be/d7nqYv_YMrU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuqukLlcIY4

Sejlalandsfoss Horizons, this was the name of our accommodation, which I specifically chose. I was convinced by the place and the buildings. I already took some pictures in the evening after we got back from the waterfall, but the next day after breakfast, while Eszter packed and Johanna made another hole in the snow for the elves, I took some photos.


The pictures were taken before sunrise, but our eyes got used to the blueness of the much longer dawn light so interestingly that it was only visible in the pictures. With our eyes, we saw the buildings and our surroundings approximately as in the pictures, while with normal/usual white balance, my camera saw this:


Therefore, I had to set the color temperature even warmer than 15,000 Kelvin in order to see the images as we saw them with our eyes. It's just a tiny detail that's only interesting because it's never been needed before.

Day 4 - The waterfalls and the black sand beach


Thanks to the fact that our accommodation was only a few minutes away from the first waterfall we wanted to see, we didn't have to get up early. It was half past ten by the time we set off for the Sejlalandsfoss waterfall. (Parking is 7 Eur, which we paid the night before and now, because the price covers only 2 hours of parking.) This waterfall is notable for the fact that you can walk behind it, and the sun sets in front of it, so you can take beautiful pictures.

Well, it doesn't look like this in winter :) The mist that forms upon impact freezes immediately and a mirror-smooth ice armor forms around the place, which I can only compare to the ice after tin rain, with the difference that it is several centimeters thick. It looks like this:


Of course, there were those who could not be swayed by any sign...

Before the trip, Eszter insisted that we buy "crampons" - metal spikes that can be pulled onto shoes - with the help of which we were able to move easily even on this icy toboggan run. I am indescribably grateful to her for that, it was a completely different experience, moving safely, easily and paying attention to the environment, instead of having to pay attention to staying on our feet. Not so the bus tour groups. Here we once again had the opportunity to experience how underdressed and unprepared others are able to set off.




Sejlalandsfoss is a 2-minute walk from the parking lot, but it's worth going a little further on the designated road and then you'll reach the Gljufrabu waterfall. Through a narrow gorge and the stream, you can get to the waterfall, which is "only ours" for a few seconds, and you can feel its power up close. Johanna and I went in together, and I've never been so worried about her. There was a lot of water in the stream, so you could only walk while balancing on one big stone at a time, and if someone came your way, you didn't have much chance to let them go. For a moment, we were able to pull into a hollow halfway to let go of those coming out, then we were able to continue. Here, a nice guy took two pictures of us, then he asked a question, which at first I didn't know what to think, then I smiled and said "thank you, we are fine"... The question: "Another pose?" I still smile today, because I don't think that our pose is really important in the picture, rather the miracle that surrounded us. Many people often try to "enhance" the image with unimaginably stupid poses, as if this is necessary in this environment. Meanwhile, Eszter was filming outside and had a lot of fun:


The weather was not pleasant, the wind blew strongly and it rained sometimes, but that didn't deter us either.



Skógafoss and Kvernufoss



Skógafoss can be seen not only from below, but also from above after a longer climb. However, it was also completely frozen, so the marked path cannot be walked without crampons. What is the solution for tourists? Along the clearly marked and fenced route, they prefer to go up in the grass and mossy snow. I find this very disrespectful to the locals. In Iceland, long, long centuries have to pass for the stony wasteland to become a grassy area, which is why they protect their grassy areas tooth and nail. Especially in the area of national parks. Accordingly, a middle-aged lady working in the national park was blocking the way up with a rope when Johi and I got there. She saw that we were properly prepared, and I could sense that she was reluctant to do it, but she didn't let us go either. She explained why and we accepted it. In the meantime, a young couple came down, the same age as us, who explained to the lady that the road was impassable and that's why they went off the path. Then she showed them the spikes attached to our feet and asked if everything is slippery here at this time, weren't they aware of this when they came to "ICE-land" (she pressed the word ice pretty hard)?! Because if they travel to Spain - she continued - they will definitely take a swimsuit with them...


We have read that these waterfalls are easily accessible, but experiencing them is completely different. They are practically located next to the road, and you can be in their immediate vicinity after a 2-minute walk from the parking lots. This sounds good, but it was more difficult to experience the closeness to nature experienced in the previous days. This is especially true for the two main attractions: Sejlalandsfoss and Skógafoss. But next to both, there are 1-1 smaller waterfalls a few minutes away, where we meet much fewer people. There were still quite a few people at Gljúfrabui, but when we got to Kvernufoss, which is a 2-minute drive from Skógafoss and a short walk away, we met only a few people on the way and finally we were the only ones in the valley when we got to the waterfall. It's an indescribable feeling, let the pictures come.

Only the waterfall and us, only the birds around us.


On the south coast, which is the most visited part of Iceland, together with the Golden Circle, I strongly recommend that you not only see the waterfalls known as the main attractions, but also go a little further, because the truly captivating experiences are just an arm's length away.

The parking lot belonging to Kvernufoss is located next to a museum and a small museum village, which is also worth visiting. I'll show you why:


On the way to Vík

It started to rain and the wind got stronger and stronger until we were halfway to the black sand ocean shore. Eszter wasn't feeling well, which, together with the bad weather, convinced us not to stop before Vík, but to eat first in the city.

In the case of restaurants, it can be said that their own Facebook page is not always up-to-date for 1-1 places, while Google is. Eszter checked out a restaurant, I entered it in the navigation, and Tesla said that the restaurant would probably be closed. "Ohh, I checked, they're open from noon!" - came the reaction from beside me. They weren't, because the place is under renovation until the beginning of February. :)
Fortunately, Vík can be considered a medium town by Icelandic standards, so there were a few more options, from which we finally managed to choose a restaurant, and we also ate a very delicious hamburger. I know our meals are not very varied, but this was not the focus of our trip either, we were happy to be able to eat simple, delicious and relatively affordable meals. (2 hamburgers, with fries, + 1 serving of fries was a total of 60 EUR)


When we left the restaurant, the weather still hadn't improved and our accommodation was still an hour's drive from us, so we postponed the black sand ocean beach until the return trip and headed to the Arctic Exclusive Ranch, which is located on the largest lava field in Iceland and possibly the world. In a place quite isolated from the world, the nearest settlement larger than 2-3 houses is a 40-minute drive away.

Our daily route can be seen here, a total of only 120 km, but the last 15 km was a very poor quality gravel road, on which we could only drive at 20 km/h sometimes. I was glad that we didn't get here after dark, because it would have been much more difficult to find the place in the evening.


The name of the lava field is Eldhraun, which was formed between 1783 and 1784, when the Laki fissure and the Grímsvötn volcano erupted. A total of 565 km2, which is a little larger than the area of Budapest. The eruption is also remembered in historical records, because half of Europe was plunged into darkness, and agricultural production was also impossible for a few years, so some historians see this as one of the reasons for the outbreak of the French Revolution. I learned all this from our host, with whom we had a great conversation on our second evening here.

This is what this area looks like in summer.

However, after our arrival, the evening still had a surprise for me. Johanna - as I mentioned once - dug little holes in the snow in several places for the fairies and elves. One on the way to Thingvellir National Park, one at the accommodation at Sejlalandsfoss and one at Kvernufoss.


Between the houses, the strong wind built quite large snowdrifts, so he wanted to dig a "cave" bigger than before. She started with her bare hands, but despite my help we were moving slowly, so I tried to find tools. First, we messed around with a metal shoe spoon, then I found an IKEA rotating spatula for grilling, with which we were making pretty good progress. I dug so fast that I managed to sweat, and because of the cold windy weather I went inside to dry off a bit, and Johi continued to work non-stop. Half an hour later, when I joined her again, I already had a smaller pan in my hand, and it became the perfect target tool. I was able to move very quickly with it, and soon I found myself completely under the snow pile. While I shoveled the snow from inside half of the entrance, Johanna scraped it even further from my feet. The team work paid off before we went in. Johi could already fit her whole body inside. A hurricane-force wind was blowing outside, while under the snow it was completely pleasant weather, which she liked very much. Tiny, small things that remain wonderful memories, that's why I wrote them down, so that we never forget this!
We decided to do it the next night until we both fit in. The next day's weather finally made it through, but it will only become clear in the next part why...




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