Monday, July 20, 2015

Day 13 - The South Coast - Waterfalls, Waterfalls, and Snorkeling

A hike behind Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
Day 13 was all about water.  We packed three of the big and famous waterfalls in the country into this day.  In the evening, Leanne and I popped into þingvellir National Park to snorkel the Silfra Fissure - an underwater gorge where two tectonic plates are pulling apart.  Here is how to recreate our adventure...

Day 13 - The South Coast - Waterfalls, Waterfalls, and Snorkeling

Feeling the mighty power of Skogafoss Waterfall!
We discovered that the south coast of Iceland was fairly packed in the summer.  Tourists spending just a few days in the country can rent a car or take a Reykjavik Excursions coach out to this area for the day.  After days without crowds, it was almost stressful being surround by other tourists.

We started the morning early, and WET!  I really wanted a photograph in front of the Skogafoss waterfall near our guesthouse.  I dragged Leanne out of bed to get there before the crowds.  Unfortunately, the morning light put the waterfall in the shade and it was difficult to get the perfect photograph.  It was still awesome feeling the power and spray of the massive falls.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall Hike
After we dried off and had breakfast, we headed out on the Ring Road (Rt 1) to Seljalansfoss.  A moderate 30 minute walk will take you up to the falls. It's a great little hike because you get to actually walk behind the falls in a carved-out cavern.  It was the second time that day I got to feel the mist of a gorgeous fall.

After our hike, we drove to the town of Selfoss to look for a lunch spot.  We decided to inquire in the town library where we could find a local seafood place.  The librarian was very helpful and directed us 10 minutes out of town to the village of Stokkseyri where we enjoyed a delicious seafood chowder, bread, and cocktails at the Fjöruborðið cafe.  I highly recommend the restaurant.

After lunch, we visited the waterfall Urriðafoss which was located just a short ways off the Ring Road (near Selfoss).  It was a wide cascade and we were the only ones there.

Silfra Fissure
Since we had a 5 pm meet up for our Silfra sorkel, we decided it was best to check in to our guesthouse early.  Lambastidir Guesthouse is located just outside Selfoss center on small and quaint farm.  We were excited that our room had a private bath and there was a hot tub and sauna on the property.  It also had a delicious continental breakfast in the morning.

Leanne and I suited up in warm clothes and drove into  þingvellir National Park.  We had scheduled our snorkel two weeks prior with  We were instructed to meet our group at the visitor center within the park.  After our group of 20 was all together, the guides had us following them in car to the dive site (5 minutes drive).  There, we were suited up in a thermal coverall, dry diving suit, wet suit gloves, wet suit hood, and a snorkel and mask.  As science teachers, Leanne and I were totally geeking-out over the fact that we got to dive in a divergent plate boundary between the Eurasian and North American Plate.

Snorkeling in freezing water between two tectonic plates!
The water was cold and clear.  There is little to no life, and was amazing to see the rocky gorge below us and we snorkeled along.  We were in the water for a total of 30-40 minutes.  Any longer and I think my nose and fingers would have gone numb.  I was skeptical about the experience at first, but I have since decided that it was totally worth it.  After the dive, you are welcome to purchase photos from your trip (we abstained since Leanne had a waterproof camera with her), and they treated us to hot chocolate and cookies.  Still hungry, we did a 8 pm stop back at the visitor center for hot dogs and soft serve before driving the hour back to Lambastidir Guesthouse.

Underwater views in Silfra Fissure
We ended the night with a midnight dip in the guesthouse hot tub.  I was getting used to this.

Turf House alongside the road in Pingvellir National Park
READ ABOUT THE NEXT DAY HERE: Day 14 - The Golden Circle - þingvellir National Park, Geysers, and Gullfoss

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