This visit was from late November 2019 (yes I know it’s taken me a while to write about it lol)
Today was the start of our 2 day adventure exploring the South Coast of Iceland. It would be so great to do a full loop of Iceland and it’s compact enough to do this across 10-14 days but most people agree that if you have limited time, the biggest highlights are along the South Coast. Hiring a car isn’t really an option for us because we don’t have experience driving in the wintery conditions that Iceland is known for and I especially didn’t want to drive in the wind conditions I’ve read so much about. Apparently you have to be careful what direction you park your car when it’s windy (which it often is) because if you don’t, your car door can literally nearly be ripped off it’s hinges. I’ve read so many horror stories involving inexperienced drivers so the decision for us was easy – take a tour!
South Coast Tour
So given the eye watering costs to visit this glorious country, we are doing a 2 day tour. Now you all know how much I froth over a good tour but we have never done an overnighter and I’m not gonna lie, we were nervous going in. Husband likes people even less than me and the thought of being stuck with the same potentially annoying people for 2 days had his eye twitching big time. I explained that it was the only way to see so much in 2 days and to stop his man child whining and learn to play in the sandbox with the other kids.
It’s important to know that like everything else in Iceland, these tours aren’t cheap. I researched and researched, read so many reviews my eyes were bloodshot (yeah sure it was the reading and not the champagne) and looked for discounts like only a mad woman could. I ended up settling on Artic Adventures 2 day South Coast tour – you can see the details HERE. I didn’t want to do a big bus tour so as far as small group tours go this one seemed to be the best value, plus I managed to snag a 10% discount by using a code I found on their Instagram. All up we paid $1360 for the two of us (at the time of writing it looks like the prices have gone down a little, I guess a pandemic has it’s upside). It’s alot of money for 2 days even with that handy 10% discount but that included accommodation for 1 night and breakfast on the second morning so it is what it is. There were only a handful of tour companies to choose from with smaller groups and each offered something slightly different so if you are planning on going you need to work out what your “must see” things are and then start your tour company research.
At this time of year you only get about 5 hours of daylight which is such a strange sensation when you know it’s 10am but the sun is only just coming up. It then hangs around for 5 or so hours and then racks off again at around 3-4pm. Short days indeed. We knew this would impact on our sightseeing visibility over the next few days which is why we were grateful in the end to be on a tour because they know how to juggle things to make sure you see the good bits in the light and hopefully without too many crowds.
Off We Go – we headed around to our trusty Bus Stop No. 9 at 8.45am to await pickup for 9 o’clock. I am very impressed with how well signposted the bus stops are and how easy they are to locate. It was pitch dark still at 9am (photo from the day before) and the weather was cold but not freezing, well not by Kelly standards haha.
The bus arrived on time which I was relieved about because I hate tardiness (I sound like a school marm from the 1850’s). We were some of the first people on so even though you know you are then going to have to pick up a million other people it turned out to be great because we snagged a front seat spot right behind the tour guide. You know how I love to make besties with my tour guides. Not gonna lie, it is my intention to become pals with the guide for the duration of the tour…on each and every tour we do. You get more attention and a better tour and I don’t care if it takes away from the other people on the tour. If they aren’t prepared to put in the work to make a new bestie then it sucks to be them hahaha. Of course husband wants nothing to do with my suck-uppery but he does agree we usually have a better experience because I have zero shame, nada, nil.
We ended up enjoying the “pick everyone up” because we got to see a little more of Reykjavik. It only has a population of 120k but is quite spread out (Iceland overall has around 350,000 people).
Pretty soon we were off on our adventure. Here’s our ride for the next 2 days.
The landscape once the sun came up was mostly very flat and you didn’t really see any trees which surprised me but then you would see some mountains pop up here and there. It was hard getting photos through the bus window but you get the idea. It’s rather beautiful in an unusual way.
You see quite alot of these Turf Houses throughout Iceland. Grass on the roof helped keep the Vikings extra warm inside.
First up today we were visiting Seljalandsfoss (foss means waterfall in Icelandic). It has a 60m drop and you can climb up to the top and also go in behind the waterfall but you better be prepared to get a little damp. I wasn’t keen on getting wet and then having to sit on a tour bus all day.
So we did the climb you can see over to the left with stairs.
It’s so hard when you do these tours and are only stopping for a certain amount of time. I’m always torn between wanting to explore and also wanting to have time to get some beautiful photos….plus I’m basically unfit and lazy so I’ll usually try and choose the path of least exertion or as I like to call it Fat Old and Lazy touring.
We aren’t quite Ryan Reynolds & Blake Lively cute but we go better than Charles & Camilla so can’t complain about that.
You’ll be pleased to know we made some aussie friends on the tour, similar ages to us. I can’t remember their names but honestly I can’t even remember my kids names half the time so what makes them think they are so special.
View from halfway up the stairs looking back to the carpark
Seljalandfoss was truly so beautiful. I love a waterfall, there is something about the movement and power that really speaks to me.
Then it was time to hop back on the bus and being the rule follower I am you know we were there early. It’s important to be the first back so you can scowl at the latecomers that hold the whole tour bus up. I mean honestly the audacity of thinking you are more important than everyone else on the bus by showing up late. When they hop back on it’s a combo of me sitting there biting my perfectly formed tongue and husband squeezing my leg which is code for “please don’t” or perhaps it’s his way of stopping my leg from accidentally slipping into the aisle and tripping those damn rulebreaking mofos up. Sigh. People.
Next we were visiting the famous Justin Bieber film clip waterfall, Skogafoss. It’s one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland with a drop of 60m and a width of 25m. The setting of the waterfall is so brilliant and a photographers dream. Because it was winter we didn’t have beautiful green grass around but I still liked the yellow/brown hues.
The sun was just beautiful the way it was hitting the landscape when we were there.
Made it hard to take cute photos of our face, exhibit A. but noone is looking at us really anyway.
But by moving where we were and asking our new bestie The Tour Guide to take some photos of us, we got these beauties below. My faves from the day!
It was at the editing stage when I was looking at this gorgeous waterfall that I had a moral dilemma. You see I have the mad photoshop skills to remove everyone else from these photos and just act like we had the place to ourselves. I could’ve easily done that with the images above but I don’t know, I got the gawdamnit guilts. If you ever see a photo of a tourist attraction online and there is noone else in the shot, that’s been “handled” digitally. Is it wrong to remove the masses from your photos? I ended up removing anyone who’s stupid flouro coat detracted from my shots. All whinging aside though we were quite lucky that the crowds weren’t obscene when we were here. #winning
BTW…….Who needs Justin Bieber when you’ve got Mr Kellysontour hey….hubba hubba hubby
Isn’t Skogafoss beautiful. I think MAJESTIC is the word that comes to mind.
The view back the other way was pretty special too.
Finally it was time to head back to the bus and if one more person returns late I’m gonna flip a table, or at the very least, an arm rest. There’s about to be a bus brouhaha (yes that’s a word). In other news I’ll never be accused of having resting nice face. Those dilly daddlers were beginning to know who they were dealing with my friends.
Trolls and Elves
Iceland have alot of folk tales and most centre around trolls and elves. Apparently the majority of Icelanders actually believe they are real. All over Iceland you can see signs of the Icelandic beliefs – from troll souveniers in shops down to little houses in peoples gardens meant for elves to live in.
And I have to say, there is something some incredibly magical about Iceland, it’s easy to convince yourself that there’s trolls living in the hills and elves in the little houses.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
This place had such a moody feel to it. I think this scenery is just so dark and mysterious. I was speechless
Husband contemplating how lucky he is to be married to such a Queen of literally E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G!
What is this black sand sorcery I hear you ask. It looks like dirt not sand right. I agree with you – the black sand is fascinating, basically it’s formed when volcanic rock reaches the ocean and eventually over time erodes to become sand. It’s probably a little more complicated than that but you get the idea and I’m no geologist.
It was cold and windy by this time of the afternoon. I think that is clearly written all over our tense smiley faces lol. Plus it takes alot for me to want to get this close to Mr. Kelly.
We wondered if the sand would feel like dirt or if it would feel like normal sand – can confirm it felt exactly like normal sand.
Reynisdrangar sea stacks are so rugged and striking. It’s a very popular photography spot and was also featured in Game of Thrones. There are lots of people standing on the rocks getting on my last nerve so I photoshopped some of them out rather than wait, take that asshats, I’m smiling politely waiting while imagining myself leaning forward to give someone a bitch slap.
Such a moody atmosphere
We didn’t go too close to the shoreline because this beach is famous for a dangerous reason. The sea can look quite calm but the ocean throws up Sneaker waves often and unfortunately silly tourists who don’t do any reading beforehand get caught out. There was actually signs before where you stepped onto the sand warning of the waves also. Even while we were there I was stunned at how many people went right to the waters edge and even scarier, turned their back on the water. Jesus F’ing Christ – sorry Mary, I’m sure F’ing wasn’t really his middle name but…..why are people so stupid.
There are tons of videos on Youtube but here’s a quick one to give you an example of how fast and sneaky the waves can be:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmUP6l1I2Z4
This was the last stop for the day and we were all feeling pooped but also exhillerated. I mean NATURE hey, she really is incredible isn’t she.
On the way to the hotel we made a quick stop at these ancient lava fields. It was getting dark and the subdued lighting just gave the whole area an otherworldly feel. Honestly, I’ve never seen anything remotely similar. I love how everything is covered in moss now – mother nature is a complicated lady. She devastates an area with lava, maybe because she’s having a bad day, and then her mood lifts and she sprinkles green mossy life across her booboo. Amazing!
We now headed to our accommdation for the night. I wasn’t expecting 5 star but as we pulled up it was probably a little more “modest” than anticipated. We stayed at Adventure Hotel Hof . When we got to our room it was immediately clear that it’s unlikely “romance” will be on the menu in this environment. For me that’s a positive because this room will surely not entice an attempt by Mr Kelly to swing a leg so I’m going to renovate our bedroom at home to look exactly like this.
To be fair it was clean and quiet and really do you need more than this.
Dinner ended up being a bit of a tense affair. There aren’t many places to dine in this remote area near Hof and the tour guide had totally dropped the ball and forgotten to book the group in anywhere so the only place left to dine was a very expensive restaurant at a fancy hotel in the area. Remember I’ve mentioned how “sell a kidney” expensive the prices in Iceland are, well this place required your first born child, a second mortgage and a liver (well not mine because mine because well….I’m a boozer). It’s all well and good for the fat middle agers like us but there were some young people on the tour who had probably only eaten ramen noodles for 6 months to scrape together all their pennies just to be able to afford the tour so this was really poorly handled. Those kids didn’t end up eating and scurried off to the bar to maybe nibble on some free urine covered bar nuts – Nobbies of course. The mumma bear in me really got upset about this and I made sure to contact the company on our return home to let them know it’s basically a bit shit and to get their act together.
With that said, dinner was incredibly delish so at least that will see me through now I have no money in the bank for future meals haha.
Tonight was going to be our one chance to see the Northern Lights. It wasn’t our main reason to visit Iceland but of course it was going to be a tremendous experience if it happened. Because Hof is so remote the chances were good but you had to stay outside super late to even have a chance of seeing them. The guide said he would come and wake us up if they came out but of course he did no such thing and apparently at about 1am the Northern Lights showed up. Goss was it wasn’t a big showing but they were there. I’m fine with it though, you can’t experience everything and I’m sure in my lifetime there will be more chances.
Meanwhile I slept like a baby – whoever coined that phrase never met a baby so is clearly a dad!!!! I slept.
Tomorrow on day 2 of our south coast tour of Iceland is going to be the grandest adventure folks, like the bestest. I can’t wait to tell you all about it so stay tuned.
P.S. Have you ever seen the Northern Lights? If so tell me all about it.
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