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Clare
Clare

Day 4: Hvolsvöllur to Hof

We had a good night's sleep in our hotel room and got up around 08.30 to investigate the hotel breakfast. Anywhere where we have breakfast included, the intention is to eat as much as possible to get our money's worth xD This hotel's selection turned out to be rather bizarre; alongside the normal breakfast offerings like bread and cheese, there was also herring and hot dogs. It redeemed itself though when Tim realised there was a pancake machine! I've never stayed anywhere with a pancake machine before.  I've got no idea how it worked, but the pancakes it produced were really nice, and there was plenty of syrup to go with them :)

Suitably stuffed, we packed up our stuff and set off towards the first destination of the day. We drove about 13 miles to to a waterfall called Seljalandsfoss, which to be fair in the guidebook wasn't even really listed as a destination, but as somewhere that you might want to make a quick stop while en route to another waterfall a bit further down the road. I wasn't sure whether it might be a bit of a let-down after the spectacular views at Gullfoss yesterday!

We caught sight of the waterfall from the road and soon found the turning off towards the parking place. This was another place where we had to pay for parking (£5). I couldn't really complain though when this was the view from our parking space.

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There actually seemed to be a whole series of little waterfalls coming over the edge of the rocks here.

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Seljalandsfoss was definitely the biggest.

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A walkway leads up beside the waterfall and then passes behind it.

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As you get closer, it's possible to get very wet from the spray!

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The waterfall is absolutely beautiful close up though...

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...and the water is incredibly powerful.

The water here comes from glacier on the Eyjafjallajökull volcano (the one which erupted in 2010).

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The best views were definitely from behind the waterfall :) 

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It was really incredible to be able to watch the water falling from the opposite side.

It was definitely rather damp though xD

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Eventually we came out the other side and began to move away from the spray a bit.

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Before we left, we saw there was a sign to another smaller waterfall a few hundred metres away, so we went to have a look at that as well.

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Then it was time to move on to today's second waterfall - Skógafoss - which is located about another 20 miles down the road.  As we drove towards it, the scenery was quite mountainous.

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Parking at Skógafoss was free, and we didn't have to go far from the carpark to get our first view of the falls.

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Again it was quite busy here with various tour buses, but that didn't stop the views being spectacular.

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We walked down to the bottom of the falls first.

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This was about as close as you could get without getting completely soaked :)

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There's also a path which enables you to climb right up to the top of the waterfall. You should be able to see the people climbing uphill in this video.

It was rather a steep climb, which started out as steps like this...

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...and then became more of a metal staircase up the hillside.

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I was rather out of breath, but it was worth it to get to the top and see the waterfall from above :)

There was a pathway alongside the river which leads to the waterfall, and so we explored that for a while.

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The whole area is extremely scenic.

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Then it was time to head off back down the staircase!

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From Skógafoss we drove another 20 miles or so towards the town of Vík. We turned off down a small side road a few miles outside the town, in the hope of findings the Reynisfjara beach, which is famous for having black sand.

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I think it's also famous for being involved in Game of Thrones in some way, so again there were several tour buses here!

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This was really different to the black beach we had been to at Mosteiros in the Azores; that one was formed by black lava cooling, so it was very hard underfoot, whereas this one felt like proper sand underfoot, just completely black.

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It was a pretty surreal beach to walk along.

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The beach is well-known for having extremely strong waves, and so there were plenty of warnings about not getting too close and not turning your back to the sea.

The reason is that there is no significant land mass between this beach and Antarctica, so the waves have travelled a very long way before they break here!

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Once we'd finished admiring the beach, we drove on through Vík and covered another 45 miles or so before arriving at our next stopping point; the canyon at Fjaðrárgljúfur. I think it was supposed to be quite a scenic drive, but it was raining pretty heavily by this point so we didn't get the full benefit of the view. We did drive through a really fascinating landscape though; in places the ground was really bumpy, having been formed from cooling lava when Iceland's Laki volcano erupted in 1783.

We turned off down a small road which made me glad I'd taken out the gravel protection insurance, and then we were at the canyon.

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Initially as we followed the path, there wasn't much of a view...

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...then suddenly we turned a corner, and.... wow!

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The canyon is about 100 metres deep and two kilometres long.

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It's been formed by erosion and some of it is really fascinating; in the middle of this photo, you should be able to make out an archway in the rock :) 

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It was raining rather heavily by this point, but we continued to follow the footpath along the length of the canyon.

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Every so often there would be viewpoints where we could get glimpses downwards.

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Some of the viewpoints were truly spectacular :)

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When we got to the final viewpoint, we realised there was a waterfall here as well!

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This viewpoint was built right out over the canyon, so I made sure I was holding on :D 

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Slightly scary, but worth it :)

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Tim took a video which captures the views even better.

Wow. I knew Fjaðrárgljúfur was supposed to be pretty, but it definitely surpassed my expectations! From here we had another 60 miles to drive to the hotel we are staying at for the night, in a small place called Hof.  I wasn't expecting to take any more photos - and the weather was still pretty dreadful - but we had to pull over and get out of the car at one point when we caught sight of glaciers on the horizon :o

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I knew there were glaciers in this part of Iceland, but I didn't expect them to be this big or this visible from the main road!

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From there it wasn't too far to Hof. Accommodation is incredibly expensive in the south of Iceland, because there are so many sights here and the demand for hotel rooms massively outstrips supply. I was aware that the place I had booked in Hof was potentially the worst of the trip. £136 for a night in what looked like a very small room, in some sort of outbuilding to the main hotel, and with a shared bathroom. 

I was relieved to see when we arrived that the room is actually fine; definitely a bit on the small side, but we did manage to fit both our suitcases inside.

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We've even got quite a nice view from the window :)

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Today may have been the wettest day we've ever had on a holiday, but it has also been one of the most exciting :) 

Edited by Clare

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