With the southern route lined with natural treasures such as waterfalls, beaches, mountains, volcanoes, glaciers and small fishing villages, a visit to the South Coast of Iceland is considered as one of the most popular routes for any visitors, along with the Golden Circle and I will say is a must do.
Due to its popularity, there are various options when joining a tour of the South Coast, particularly in the months where activities such as glacier hiking and ice caving are permissible. For my case, arriving in late autumn season, the best option I believe and the one I selected is to do the South Coast and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.
The tour itself is packed with activities that highlights South Coast’s best hits, but it was such a long drive that time was spent mostly sitting inside the bus, admiring the scenery from afar while listening to the guide telling stories about how one troll got so mad that he chomp one of the mountains and spit its part on the other side, the reason of the rugged mountain scenery, if I remember the story correctly.
It was one of the best weather I had in Iceland and perhaps because of it is why for the first time I envied those who are doing self-drive tour, it is simply the perfect weather for hiking and camper van. Nonetheless, it was a good trip, I appreciate the effort from both the guide and the driver, I understand the need for the long-drive, at the end of the day seeing the icebergs up close at Jokulsarlon was so worth it.
The South Coast trip is indirectly called the “waterfalls” tour, as all tours regardless of what kind of variation includes a visit to two of Iceland’s most iconic destinations – Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls.
Both waterfalls are magnificent, but I will say seeing Skógafoss during day time with a rainbow that never disappears makes all the difference. With a drop of 60m and the width of 25m, standing so close and feeling so small against the strong rushing water of Skógafoss was an exhilarating experience.
While on the right side is a series of steps that leads to the viewing platform for the top-view of the waterfalls, though the one I like is seeing Skógafoss from afar, when everyone and everything looks tiny in comparison.
It is not only the waterfalls that are worth stopping by in South Iceland, the farmlands and wide open spaces dotted with tiny houses standing mighty against the mountain ranges at the back and the ocean on the other side is amazing to see, providing maybe a glimpse of the traditional Icelandic life.
Though the real treasure of South Coast is the Vatnajökull, the country largest ice cap and third largest in Europe, which puts the “ice” part of Iceland. I saw portions of Vatnajökul and the mountains of Skaftafell National Park from afar, and I am pretty sure that somewhere along the way, the guide has mentioned the location of the small ice cap volcano that erupted in 2010, the one that disrupted air travel across the region and most importantly, popular because no one can pronounce its name properly, the Eyjafjallajökull.
If there is one thing I will never forget about the South Coast trip while passing by a huge moss lava field is the one that the guide mentioned on how the whole of Iceland is constantly moving underneath and evolving geographically . How one volcanic eruption can change the island topology and affects the life of its inhabitants, similar to what happen in 1783 that produces what now is known as the Eldhraun Lava Field, a true testament to the raw power and beauty of the Earth.