Day four, May 21st, was a day for photographing some of the major waterfalls of Iceland. We planned to drive partway down the ring road then return to Hveragerdi for our last evening in the Airbnb.
In the morning we headed east on the Ring Road to Hvolsvollur. As we entered town I notice a group of horse riders on one of the local trails. Riding Icelandic Horses is a very popular pastime in Iceland. It was fun watching them with very unusual gait. Unfortunately they were moving too fast for me to get a photo. I don’t recall seeing as many horses when driving through the western United States as we saw in Iceland. These horses were just standing in a field probably waiting for the tourist season to get underway.
In Hvolsvollur we stopped at the Saga Center for a lengthy visit. My wife majored in Norwegian and has studied the sagas. I didn’t have a clue as to what was going on and had not realized the Vikings were such a bloodthirsty bunch among themselves.
After leaving Hvolsvollur we drove northeast on highway 261. We were getting our first glimpse of Eyjafjallajokull which last erupted in 2010 and resulted in serious disruptions of air travel in Europe.
On the way to Gluggafoss we drove by a beautiful church up on a hillside. It appears that most of the churches in Iceland are white with red roofs. In fact, a lot of buildings in Iceland are white with read roofs. Red and white are the colors of Denmark which ruled Iceland for many years. In the Lutheran church, red is the color of blood and fire, signifying sacrifice, while white is the color of holiness, purity, and salvation.
After a short drive we reached Gluggafoss which is a small waterfall just off of the road. There are several other waterfalls along the same escarpment. It was difficult to get a full photo of the waterfall because the upper part of the falls is back in an opening in the rocks.
We encountered some “free campers” at the falls. These are folks that have a small van without toilet facilities and are camping along the road. A beautiful location but there were no toilet facilities at the falls. A serious problem in Iceland.
At Mulakot we caught highway 150 heading south toward Seljalandsfoss. We were fortunate to find fields of blooming Lupine. Lupine was first introduced to Iceland in the first half of the 20th century and was used combat erosion, speed up land reclamation and help with reforestation. Lupine has proved an ideal plant for reclaiming volcanic soil in Iceland.
Shortly after picking up highway 1 we arrived at Seljalandsfoss. When we arrived the parking lot was almost full. Seljalandsfoss was partially in the shade so we decided to walk down to photograph a couple of smaller waterfalls to the north.
The most interesting one is called Gljúfurárfoss. The water level was low enough so we could walk back into the rocks to a grotto that was formed by the falling water. Because of the large number of people visiting the area we had to wait our turn to enter or all we would have managed to capture would have been people wandering around.
This is a nice little waterfall between Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfurárfoss. I suspect it only runs in the spring.
By the time we finished looking at the other waterfalls Seljalandsfoss was in full sun.
The neat thing about this waterfall is you can follow a trail that leads around the back of the falls. As we found before leaving, when we were testing our gear at High Falls on the Pigeon River in Minnesota, it was much easier for my wife to get photos with her phone camera that it was for me with DSLR because of the large amount of spray. I was constantly wiping off my camera and lens.
After leaving Seljalandsfoss we drove down to Skogafoss. The plan was to take in some of the sites along the Ring Road so we could make better time the next day because we had a long drive from Hveragerdi to Hofn and there was a lot to see. We stopped to look at this farm which is famous because it appeared in a 2010 documentary about the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull. the farm was covered in ash by the eruption and at first they didn’t know if they would be able to continue farming. Fortunately the crops came up through the ash and not they not only run the farm but have a museum across the road which has become a tourist attraction.
At Skogafoss there were also large crowds. It was the weekend so you had locals as well as tourists visiting the site. With all of the spray from the falls a rainbow was showing up to the right of the falls. The constant mist also created a lush area around the falls.
We started driving back toward Hveragerdi but stopped along the way to take some photos of the escarpment. The sun was just right taking photos.
When we reached Seljalandsfoss we decided to stop a second time. We were rewarded because there was a beautiful rainbow at the falls. We walked around it a second time. It was difficult to photograph the rainbow because we had to deal with all of the folks wanting to take selfies. It’s really getting frustrating being a landscape photographer when everyone and his brother wants to stand in front of the beautiful landscape and take a selfie.
If I had it to do over I would probably have checked out of the Airbnb in Hveragerdi and stayed someplace fruther south on the Ring Road. As it was we had to drive back to Hveragerdi and then retrace our steps the next day. Keep in mind that the area between Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss is probably best photographed in the afternoon when the sun is on the waterfalls and the escarpment.
More photos and a complete listing of my Icelandic blogs can be found on my website.