South Iceland, Part II.

Our adventures continue in the southern part of Iceland.

A tiring 1 hour walk over rocky terrain with nothing in sight for miles will bring you to an eerily abandoned plane on the beach. In November 1973, a U.S. Navy Douglas Dakota C-117 airplane with 7 crew members was making a return trip to Keflavik airport after delivering cargo to a radar station near Horndafjordur in East Iceland. While flying over the vast black sands in South Iceland, the plane gradually started to lose altitude and the pilots were forced to crash land on Solheimasandur. Some speculate that mechanical failure was the cause of the crash but the exact reason is still unknown. For some, like my husband, the hour walk just to reach the plane is not worth the end result. However, I have a certain obsession with abandoned things and places, so while it wasn’t anything spectacular, I still found it intriguing. There is a large-wheeled bus that takes individuals and tourist groups to and from this wreck. We did not want to spend the money and instead walked, but it was a disappointment to walk all that way thinking there will be minimal, if any, individuals exploring the wreck with us and then have a bus pull up with a group of people. Luckily, we managed to get there early in the morning to have about 5 minutes of the plane to ourselves before a group showed up. Not much time, but I was bound and determined to experience this piece of ruin as it was left- deserted. 

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A heart pounding ride up a narrow stretch of dirt road will wind its way up to a gorgeous viewpoint on the Dyrholaey peninsula. This peninsula is a 120 meter promenade known for its staggering views of the endless black sand coastline, its historic lighthouse, and wealth of bird life. In front of the peninsula there is a huge black lava arch reaching out into the sea which the peninsula takes its name from. Dyrholaey literally means “the hill island with the door hole.” We managed to catch glimpses of Puffins flying around the edge of the cliff, but were too far to actually capture them up close. The views were astounding! There is also a small trail along the cliff that leads from Dyrholaey lookout to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach (our next stop), but we chose to drive from here to the beach. It was a little too much extra hiking with a kid!

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Reynisfjara is a world-famous black sand beach with enormous basalt columns, roaring Atlantic waves, and nesting seabirds. We saw more Puffins here nesting and flying above the basalt columns. You will also notice some rocky sea stacks sitting off the shoreline, known as Reynisdrangar. According to local Icelandic folklore, these large basalt columns were once trolls trying to pull ships from the ocean to shore. However, these trolls were dim and went out too late in the night; dawn broke on the horizon, turning the trolls into solid stone. Another legend tells of a husband whose wife was kidnapped and killed by two trolls. The man followed the trolls down to Reynisfjara where he froze them, ensuring that they would never kill again.

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One of the most unique scenic views seen were the Laki lava fields from the Laki eruption in 1783. This eruption was not a single eruption but about 8 months’ worth of lava flows and eruptions. These now moss-covered lava fields can be seen for miles as you drive along southern Iceland. There are many parking places along the route to safely stop and catch a glimpse of these astounding formations. I loved driving through these landscapes, and my husband is obsessed with moss so he was in heaven. I honestly felt like the rocks would start rolling around and turn into trolls (like in the movie, Frozen) at any moment!

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Perhaps one of my absolute favorite sites in south Iceland! Everything about Fjadraraglijufur River Canyon literally screams fairy-tale it looks so magical! Pictures cannot do it justice. It is believed this canyon was formed during the end of the last Ice Age around 9,000 years ago! As we made it here towards the evening, the setting sun made it challenging to capture the lush green landscape. But the canyon was beautiful to walk along.

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Lindsay View All →

Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!

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