WE HIT THE ROAD EARLY NEXT MORNING to start the road trip. Riding in two vans, the 16 of us, including our two expedition leaders Ced and Tikoy, set out to drive along Iceland’s Route 1, more popularly known as the Ring Road. For the next few days, we hope to tick off items in our bucket lists, experience the essence of the country, and maybe see an aurora borealis along the way. Hopefully.
Our route takes us in a clockwise direction, which means we leave Reykjavik for the southern coast first. As the road gets to the far reaches of the region, the capital’s small city charm gives way to wide expanses and towering mountains. Southern Iceland in particular is known for two waterfalls before the highway runs east to the Skaftafell region via the coastal town of Vík.
The first of those two falls is the Seljalandsfoss, which we reach after about an hour and a half. It’s close to the highway, and this, combined with its natural beauty, makes it an accessible day trip from the capital. This also means we have to share the site today with dozens of tourists, though surprisingly it doesn’t feel that crowded. A muddy path leads to the back of the falls, which means it can be fully encircled.
Just a short drive away is the Skógafoss. The 62-meter high falls at the western edge of Skógar town cascades dramatically over a rocky cliff. It’s also accessible from the highway, and because of the flat land under the falls, we are able to get closer to the wall. Also, due to the volume of the cascade and the sun, a rainbow appears, providing a dreamy appearance. A steep staircase beside the falls leads to an observational platform that allows visitors to see the falls from the top.
Shortly before noon, we continue driving eastward towards the coastal town of Vík, or officially Vík í Mýrdal, where we will have our lunch.