Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

Sep 2017: Iceland

1 - The South Coast

This was my first visit to Iceland, Europe's most sparsely populated country. My previous lack of contact with the island nation seemed surprising, given that I had gazed down on it from above during so many transatlantic crossings, to the point where it had become a long-haul milestone that was simultaneously familiar and unknown. And despite the fact that direct air links from Glasgow had existed for many years, recently supplemented by a convenient easyJet service from Edinburgh, I was arriving on a British Airways service from London. This is because it was a joint trip with my friend Bruce, using an American Express companion voucher in conjunction with an avios redemption.

Wednesday 20 September

After arriving from London and picking up our rental car in miserable weather, we set out on the 310km drive along the south-coast road to our first night-stop in the small village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Poor weather limited the number of stops initially, but conditions brightened up as we got closer to our destination and the largely deserted roads were a delight to drive.

ROW ABOVE and BELOW LEFT: 1. Poor weather characterised the first part of our coastal drive. 2-5. We stopped briefly at a number of black-sand
beaches. 6 (above) and 7-8 (below). Conditions improved markedly as we approached our overnight stop. BELOW:  A brief stroll in  

Today's plan involved retracing the south-coast route almost as far as Sellfoss before turning inland towards Gullfoss. (The second part of the drive is covered on the 'Golden Circle' page.) Better weather today meant that more stops were possible on the coastal drive.

ABOVE: On the road to our first stop at Laufskalar Cairn, on the Mýrdalssandur Plain. First-time visitors are meant to add a stone for good luck.
RIGHT: On the move again, heading for the Múlakvísl  river.
BELOW: We made a longer stop at Reynisfjara Beach, just west of the small fishing village of Vik. It featured black sands, Hálsanefshellir Cave, amazing basalt columns and sea stacks, rough seas and threatening skies.
We then took a quick look at Reynis Church (left) before heading to Skógafoss (right).
BELOW: Eyjafjallajökull visitor centre, telling the story of the volcanic eruption that caused havoc for European air travellers in 2010 BELOW: Final south-coast stop at Landeyjahöfn Beach, with views to the Vestmannaeyjar islands

Base: Icelandair Hotel Klaustur


Linked reports from same trip:
Swindon: GWR 'Steam'
Iceland: Golden Circle
Iceland: Reykjavik