#icelanding2016

Part 3: The Ring Road, Day 1

We did our Ring Road trip counter clockwise, starting in the South and circling back to Reykjavik by the end. Our first stop was Seljalandsfoss, followed by a ferry ride to the Westman Islands to visit Heimaey, then traveling to Skogafoss (and our hotel for the night, which was right beside waterfall), topped off with a long (long) trek out to the secluded Sólheimasandur Beach to visit the DC-3 Plane Wreck.

Seljalandsfoss

Quick Tip: put on all your waterproof clothing. All of it. You will be soaked through and freezing by the time you're through to the other side. It's also tough to keep your camera dry. Unfortunately, we were there too early to have very good light, so most of our behind the falls photos are not what we'd hoped for, but alas. Timing is everything and we had places to be.

Fun Fact: Seljalandsfoss originates at Eyjafjallajökull, the glacier capped volcano that erupted in 2010 and halted much of the air traffic in Europe for several days.

Once you've exited Seljalandsfoss, there's a trail that will lead around the side of the mountain, where main smaller waterfalls trickle down into a tiny stream. We noticed signs pointing toward something called Gljúfrabúi, which we hadn't previously heard of, but it was just a little ways down the trail, so we continued along until we found it.

Gljúfrabúi, or Gljúfrafoss, as it turns out, is a smaller waterfall inside of a small canyon. It's quite beautiful from the outside. I regret not having gone into the canyon to look at it, now. I'll have to make another trip, it seems.

Gljúfrafoss to Seljalandsfoss. Probably looks a bit closer than it actually is, but it's an easy walk.

Our next stop was a ferry ride to the Westman Islands, or Vestmannaeyjar. Heimaey is the only inhabited island in the archipelago, though each of the surrounding islands does have a single hunting cabin. Heimaey gained international notoriety in the 70s, when the Eldfell volcanic eruption occurred, lasting 7 months and with lava flow destroying a large portion of the town.

Heimaey

Next up, a ferry ride to the Westman Islands, or Vestmannaeyjar. Heimaey is the only inhabited island in the archipelago, though each surrounding island has a single hunting cabin. Heimaey gained international notoriety in the 70s with the eruption of Eldfell, which lasted 7 months and destroyed a large portion of the town.

Standing in the crater of Eldfell with Eyjafjallajökull off in the distance behind us.

In January of 1973, Eldfell erupted with no warning, causing the destruction of roughly 400 homes on Heimaey. The eruption lasted through July and almost led to the permanent evacuation of the island. Due to storms in the area in the previous days, the fishing fleet was in the harbor and was able to safely evacuate all of Heimaey's residents to mainland - there were no casualties. As the lava stream continued to pour over the island, however, it became imperative that something be done to combat it before lava destroyed the harbor and therefore, the island's fishing industry and livelihood.

"Remember when you were young and your parents told you to eat your vegetables so you could grow up big and strong? Well, we have no vegetables here and we are all big and strong, so that is bullshit." - Ebbi, our Eyjatours Guide

The ash column beside Tarina shows how high the ash flow from Eldfell was.

Signs in the Eldfell lava field indicate where streets used to be.

The lava field, the village of Heimaey below, and Eldfell in the distance.

Heimaey is a fascinating place to visit and wound up being one of the major unexpected highlights of the trip for me. I highly recommend it!

Found a great view of Eyjafjallajökull on our way to Skogafoss!

Skogafoss

Our stop for the night was Hotel Skogafoss, which was, happily, RIGHT next to the waterfall. This was probably one of my favorite falls to shoot. We had decent light and the landscape around the falls itself is stunning.

I climbed out to a rock in the middle of the water to get more centered long exposures with my DSLR - should be on Flickr soon, link is on the last page!

The DC-3 Wreck

In November of 1973, a US Navy plane ran out of gas and was forced to crash land on Sólheimasandur beach. The crew survived, but the husk of the plane's body still sits on this desolate beach, painting an eerie picture and a photographer's paradise.

Be warned: There is no vehicle access to the beach where the plane lives. There's a small lot near the gate blocking the walking path out to it, it takes about an hour to walk the path in each direction if you walk at a steady, regular pace, and there is an empty walk - so pee before you leave. Advice I wish I'd known in advance. You're welcome.

Worth it, though.

Apparently, the wreck is being used for a film and this sign was posted asking people not to touch or enter the plane. All of the debris surrounding it, seen here, was added by the film crew and is not part of the original wreck.

I promise I was gentle and didn't disturb anything, film crew. Who knows when I'll have this opportunity again though.

FYI, it's 11:45PM. Next two photos are probably the darkest skies we saw the entire trip, outside of stormy ones.

a story by @thatlalagirl #iceland #ringroad #westmanislands #travel #travelphotography #stellerstories #europe #roadtrip #waterfall #volcano #nationalpark #midnightsun #stellarplaces #icelanding2016 #GoExplore See more at ThatLalaGirl.com Flickr and Instagram Instagram: @thatlalagirl Stay tuned for the rest of my two week Iceland trip!

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