Iceland: Hveragerdi + Thingvellir + Skogafoss

Michele Moricci

ICELAND After a long wait it is time to leave. Equipped with windbreakers, terrible trekking boots and an unmissable travel plan, we head to the North! We are finally ready for our tour on the road to the discover the land of fire and ice, through natural contrasts and archaic mysteries.


It is early in the morning and seated on a comfortable KIA 4×4, we are ready to face the long journey through the Ring, the main Iceland road that crosses the entire island with a two-lane road ring that runs through the entire perimeter and connects the different regions. Above all expectations, such an extreme panorama surprises us immediately with the colors of mountains, rocks, water and sky that blend together in the changing naturalness of the most diverse forms. The outside temperature is 12 degree and the sun will assist us while we walk along the coastal road 427. We stop to  look at the verdant rocks of Gridavik, then we heading to our first stop: Hveragerði, a small town – southwest of the island – in which stands the Geothermal Park Hveragardurinn. The park houses a short path around the hot water, the sulfur smell expands strongly when the rain begins to descend steadily, so we take refuge in the greenhouse to enjoy a warm heat while waiting to see the activity of the geyser. Every 20 minutes a hot water spring reaches 10 feet high and then rest until the next jet.

We do grocery shopping in one of the super-markets at “good” price as recommended by friends and web travelers. Food seems to be very expensive and unattractive in these parts, especially if you do not love meat; we lunch with our toast and then we head to  the Thingvellir National Park. In addition to being considered a World Heritage Site and part of the Golden Circle of Iceland, in this place (in 930) was founded the first parliament of the world. Icelanders and their writers love Þingvellir for its history and beauty. We walk through Almannagjá, the canyon or fracture dividing two continents, we look closely at the wonderful Öxaráfoss waterfall and walk to the side of the river that flows into the great Thingvallavatn lake.

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The gray sky frames the entire landscape. Large dark-white rocks are interrupted by lush moss, while the overwhelming water of the small waterfall emits a mild fog. We climb up to the highest point to watch the park in all its Nordic beauty. In the heart of Thingvellir lies a little namesake church  that with its gray roof and its pastel-colored green windows stands out among the fir trees.

About 1 hour from here stands beautiful Gulfoss, the famous Golden Waterfall. Spectacular and impetuous is formed by the glacial river Hvita and make a 31m high jump. We take a lot of photos but nothing seems to be enough to capture the beauty of its natural strength. Not far from here is the guest house we will be guests. The Menji Kjanholt B & B is really delightful but after a hot bath we fall asleep in our room.

DAY #2 The following morning the wind swept away the clouds and the sun shone out. At breakfast we find a spectacular banquet worthy of the most trendy Interior Design magazines. From the window the view is gorgeous and on the table everything is impeccably arranged: freshly baked bread, hot coffee, homemade jams, cereals made with local berries, orange juice, delicious fresh milk and so on. This is the ideal breakfast! We go out in the cold of the morning to enjoy the uncontaminated beauty that surrounds us: the open “countryside” between the horses and the absolute silence. Once we packed up our luggages we are ready to go back to Geysir.

Located in the Haukadalu valley, Geysir is the most famous gayser in the country. Its eruption is explosive and can go up to 80 mts. We wait to watch it springs and take a snap, and when the jet hits the air the enthusiasm is incontrovertible. We are not so lucky to see The Eye, a real bubble of water that traps the jet, but we jump in the car totally satisfied.

Today’s destination is Skogar’s famous waterfall, we will spend the next two nights there in a small hostel next to the waterfall. But our journey is dotted with things not to be missed, so we stop at Selfoss, a tiny town with about 8,000 souls, known for its casements overlooking the Ölfusá River and salmon fishing. The aquamarine river crosses the country and baths the feet of the church before it spins on itself and flows into the Atlantic Ocean. We go down-town to see that it is national holiday and that everything is closed, however the activities are very few and so after photographing the most typical houses we return to the car. In front of us a Domino’s Pizza restaurant and since the sun is shining and the garden has benches overlooking the lake, we order an expensive American pizza with double cheese for lunch en plein air.

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We continue to Eyrarbakki, a fishing village that retains all the charm of the past. The village has only 569 inhabitants and looks almost like a ghost town, but just walking through it we observe the quiet way in which the local life flows. The church stands out among the colorful roofs of the surrounding houses and the only road crossing the village. By climbing the wooden steps you can reach a small promenade from which you can see the Ocean. The sun is warmer than usual here and the locals take the opportunity to paint the fences, entertain themselves in the garden and enjoy that little Icelandic summer.

Back in the street we find the beautiful Seljalandsfoss waterfall that one you can kind-of walk through. Then we reach Seljavallalaug in search of the outdoor hot water pool. We walk about 20 minutes between the big rocks, on our sides the steep mountains, on the one hand dominate shaded rocks, while on the other a long green valley is lapped by the sun reflecting in the brook. Arrived at the famous swimming pool we realize we do not have the swimsuit but to say it straight forward: the water looks a little too turbid to jumping in carefree.

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Later, we stop at the ludic and ugly The Saga Museum. After seeing the Eijafjallajokull volcano, we are really ready to reach the hostel. After check-in in our expensive Hostel, we walk to the Skogafoss waterfall and letting the cold water drops catching us. Tireless we decide to climb the 700 steps that divide us from the apex of the water jet. Meanwhile, the sun started its descent, and now the sky is gray with brushstrokes fading to pink. The temperature drops and the cascade noise – jumping for 60 meters – echoes all around. The bravest backpackers build their tent at Skogafoss’s feet but not us. We wait for a hot plate: ready-made noodles.

Before we sleep we plan on the next day and to do so we go out on the porch and drink American coffee. All is perfect. The silence, the flowing water and the moon that illuminates the evening never too dark.

The journey continues…

NEXT STOP > Vik + Ice Lagoon + Hofn


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Michele Moricci