South Iceland

Having explored the captivating North of Iceland, it was time to discover the exciting and busy South. This region of Iceland is widely recognized for its iconic attractions, many of which were featured in the popular Bollywood song “Gerua.” As an ardent fan of Bollywood and Shah Rukh Khan, the prospect of visiting these locations filled me with excitement. It felt like we were on a Gerua tour as we travelled through the beautiful landscapes of South Iceland.

Day 6 – 26 April 2023

We took a leisurely stroll around the guesthouse grounds before our departure from Fjalladyrd – Modrudalur á Fjollum. Our room boasted a unique feature—a door that opened directly to the outside. We enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere of the farm, surrounded by stunning natural landscapes and majestic mountains.

Our journey led us to Stuðlagil Canyon, a hidden gem celebrated for its remarkable basalt column formations and the mesmerizing turquoise river meandering through its depths. The canyon’s unique beauty is enhanced by the contrast between the dark basalt columns and the vivid blue waters. To get to the viewpoint, we descended a stairway that brought us closer to the spectacular sight. As we got closer to the canyon, we were amazed by the stunning view of the towering basalt columns rising dramatically from the ground, forming a majestic wall around the serpentine path of the river. The columns exhibited intricate geometric patterns, a testament to the extraordinary artistry of nature’s design.

Continuing our journey, we ventured towards Rjúkandafoss, a waterfall celebrated for its serene ambience. Rjúkandafoss waterfall is known for its elegant flowing water and the striking contrast between the sparkling white water and the dark volcanic rocks. When we visited, the waterfall was covered in beautiful snow, making it even more captivating.

After a long drive to the southeast of Iceland, we finally arrived at our last destination for the day: Stokksnes. This remarkable location is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, featuring a captivating blend of black sand dunes, imposing mountains, and a rugged shoreline. The standout feature of Stokksnes is the majestic Vestrahorn Mountain, also known as Batman Mountain, which commands attention with its jagged peaks and steep cliffs. This awe-inspiring mountain serves as a magnificent backdrop against the contrasting black sand dunes that lie nearby. Stretching along the coastline, the black sand beach of Stokksnes offers sweeping vistas of the Atlantic Ocean, creating a mesmerizing sight to behold. Additionally, within the area, there is a Viking Village film set that has served as a filming location for various movies and TV shows, infusing the surroundings with a fascinating cultural allure. For me, this visit marked the beginning of our Gerua tour, and I couldn’t contain my excitement as I stood in the same place where SRK & Kajol once stood to film the iconic song.

At last, we arrived at Árnanes Country Hotel, a charming accommodation surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. The hotel offered comfortable beds and well-appointed bathrooms, ensuring a pleasant stay. However, it lacked kitchen appliances, with the exception of a water heater in the room. Being aware of this limitation, we prepared by purchasing ingredients to make sandwiches, as cooking was not possible at the hotel.

Day 7 – 27 April 2023

As we had made an early morning reservation, we quickly got ready and proceeded to have breakfast. The hotel offered a small yet satisfying breakfast selection, including a variety of items to choose from. We were pleased to find a range of green tea options available, adding to the pleasant start of our day.

We had made reservations for the Vatnajökull Glacier walk, an excursion organized by Troll Expeditions. This tour provided us with a chance to venture deep into the icy expanse of one of Iceland’s most renowned glaciers. Accompanied by experienced guides, we embarked on a journey to explore the awe-inspiring beauty and distinctive characteristics of Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier. The excursion commenced with a thorough safety briefing and an introduction to the necessary equipment, such as crampons and ice axes, which were generously supplied to ensure our safety and enhance our enjoyment during the glacier walk. As we walked on the glacier, it felt like we had entered a magical world with stunning ice formations, deep crevasses, and towering ice structures. The vast expanse of pristine white stretched before us, evoking a sense of wonder and marvel. Guided by our knowledgeable escort, we traversed the ever-changing terrain of the glacier, taking careful steps and marvelling at the crunch of ice beneath our crampons. The ice formations emitted hues of blue, captivating our senses. Throughout the tour, our guide imparted valuable insights about the glacier’s rich history, its profound influence on the surrounding landscape, and the environmental challenges it confronts due to climate change. As a first-time glacier explorer, I experienced a mix of excitement and fear while walking on the ice. However, our guide’s encouragement and expertise helped me navigate the icy terrain. While Rishi, having previously embarked on a similar tour in India, felt the duration of the excursion did not justify its cost, I found the experience to be truly enriching and worthwhile.

Our next stop was Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, a stunning expanse of glacial water filled with massive icebergs that left us speechless. The lagoon is formed by the merging of meltwater from the Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier, creating a mesmerizing display of floating ice formations. As we approached Jökulsárlón, we were immediately captivated by its otherworldly beauty. The sunlight played upon the lagoon’s clear waters, casting a radiant glow and reflecting the vibrant blue colors of the icebergs. These natural sculptures, shaped by nature’s forces, showcased an incredible variety of sizes and shapes, from small fragments to towering chunks of ice. It was here that some scenes from the Gerua song were filmed, with SRK and Kajol standing on one of these magnificent icebergs. Our visit to Jökulsárlón was an unforgettable experience, allowing us to witness the remarkable glacial landscapes of Iceland.

After crossing the road, we stopped at Diamond Beach, also known as Breiðamerkursandur, a captivating coastal destination adjacent to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. This renowned beach derives its name from the shimmering, diamond-like ice formations that decorate its volcanic black sands. As icebergs from the lagoon drift toward the ocean, they wash ashore, creating a mesmerizing spectacle of glistening ice against the dark backdrop. We walked along both sides of the stream, taking in the awe-inspiring ice sculptures that adorned the beach. Our luck was doubled as we even caught a glimpse of a seal gracefully travelling from the lagoon to the sea. While snapping photographs, my shoes and socks inevitably got wet, causing some discomfort. Determined to capture the perfect shots and collect unique volcanic rocks that caught our eye, I persevered through the slight discomfort. Eventually, we bid farewell to Diamond Beach, having collected an assortment of fascinating volcanic rocks as souvenirs. As we settled into the car, I couldn’t resist relieving my aching feet by promptly removing my shoes and socks, allowing them to recover from the dampness.

During our journey to the hostel, we encountered heavy snowfall, causing us to drive at a slower pace for safety. The road conditions made us wary of skidding, and we even came across a car that had likely slid off the road. Later, we noticed an emergency service truck, presumably there to assist the stranded vehicle. As we arrived in the town, we were greeted by its picturesque beauty, prompting us to seek out a nearby spot for photographs. Unfortunately, the biting cold and strong winds made it difficult to stay outside for long.

Finally, we reached our highly anticipated accommodation, The Barn Hostel, which had come recommended by one of Sree’s Icelandic colleagues. Nestled in the charming village of Vík í Mýrdal, the hostel’s exterior resembled a traditional Icelandic barn, adding to its rustic appeal. We had reserved a dormitory room with three double bunk beds, which meant sharing the space with four other couples—a relatively crowded arrangement. The communal kitchen was fully equipped, but it was bustling and noisy, making it a challenge to find an available space for cooking. Luckily, we had planned ahead and purchased pizza from a nearby grocery store, eliminating the need for extensive meal preparation. We only required an empty oven to heat our pizza, which we managed to find despite the crowded kitchen. Despite our high anticipation, our stay at The Barn Hostel did not live up to the hype for us due to overcrowding.

Day 8 – 28 April 2023

After preparing ourselves for the day, we gathered in the communal kitchen for breakfast, which thankfully was slightly less crowded than the previous night. With our morning meal finished, we checked out of the hostel and embarked on our day’s itinerary.

Our first destination for the day was Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, an enchanting coastal spot located near the village of Vík í Mýrdal. This iconic beach is celebrated for its breathtaking beauty, boasting expansive stretches of striking black volcanic sands that extend along the shoreline. As we approached Reynisfjara, we were immediately captivated by the powerful waves crashing against the shore. The beach is adorned with towering basalt sea stacks known as Reynisdrangar, which contributes to the mystical allure of the landscape. These majestic rock formations, emerging from the sea, tell the tale of countless years of volcanic activity. As we ventured further, we decided to climb one of the rock formations to capture some memorable photographs. However, we had a close call when we nearly lost our balance on the rock. After that, we became more cautious about our climbing choices. As we strolled along the beach, we couldn’t help but marvel at the unique rock formations. It was on this very beach that the iconic Gerua song begins with a shot of SRK and Kajol, with Kajol wearing a yellow saree. Inspired by that scene, I had brought along a yellow stole to pose like her. We had read about the powerful sneaker waves and strong currents at Reynisfjara, so we kept a safe distance from the water, prioritizing our safety. We also attempted to collect some black sand using the small drink bottles we had bought from the airport. Our intention was to fill the bottles with sand in descending order of size, but our plan did not work. One of the stones got stuck in the bottle’s opening, preventing us from adding more sand or removing the trapped piece of black stone. Consequently, our bottle ended up relatively empty compared to Sree’s.

We then proceeded to visit Dyrhólaey Sea Arch, an iconic natural formation also known as “Door Hole Island.” Comprised of dark volcanic rock, the arch beautifully contrasts with the surrounding cliffs and the vibrant blue tones of the ocean. Sitting on a rocky point, this arch is a product of continuous erosion caused by the relentless waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Upon approaching Dyrhólaey, we were immediately greeted by amazing panoramic views of the coastal landscape. From the viewpoint near the arch, we were greeted with a panoramic view that stretched across the expansive ocean, the distant coastline, and the encircling cliffs. While the size of the arch itself was not as impressive compared to the one we had witnessed earlier in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, the overall view from this point was still remarkably stunning.

After reaching Skógafoss, one of the country’s most iconic and visited waterfalls, celebrated for its sheer grandeur, we were immediately captivated by its immense size and power. It is a majestic waterfall, around 25 meters wide and with a 60-meter drop, creating a breathtaking sight as it crashes into a misty pool below. The lush green surroundings added to the charm of the picturesque waterfall. In the song Gerua, the waterfall was depicted with multiple rainbows created by the mist, giving it a magical touch. Unfortunately, when we arrived, it was cloudy, and we couldn’t witness any rainbows at that moment. Nevertheless, we decided to climb the staircase alongside the waterfall, leading us to the top. From there, we were treated to panoramic views of the cascading water and the surrounding landscape. Skógafoss also holds a special place in Icelandic folklore, with legends narrating tales of hidden treasures behind the waterfall. Whether we admired the waterfall from below, felt the misty spray on our faces, or marvelled at the awe-inspiring views from above, our visit to Skógafoss was a truly memorable experience.

During our journey, we came across the stop that led to the Solheimasandur Plane Wreck, which was also featured in the Gerua music video with SRK and Kajol standing atop the plane. However, we decided to skip this destination as we had read that it was considered one of the most overrated attractions in Iceland. The trek to reach the plane wreck was long and monotonous, taking approximately 1.5 hours of walking, and upon arrival, we might encounter people climbing on the wreckage despite warning signs prohibiting such actions. With that in mind, we chose to continue our journey.

As we continued, we spotted Icelandic horses along the way and once again couldn’t resist stopping to greet them. I even tried to feed them some grass from my hand, but it seemed they preferred to graze on the grass from the ground on their own.

We eventually arrived at our next destination, Seljalandsfoss, a magnificent waterfall with a vertical drop of about 60 meters situated near the Ring Road. The water comes from the Seljalandsá River, which starts at the nearby Eyjafjallajökull glacier. What distinguishes this waterfall from others is the unique opportunity for visitors to walk behind the cascading curtain of water. We followed a well-maintained trail that led us behind the waterfall. As we strolled behind the waterfall, we could feel the mist gently brushing against our faces, slowly drenching us. This was the same spot where SRK and Kajol shared romantic moments in the song Gerua, so I couldn’t resist recreating some similar poses and capturing videos. As the sun emerged from behind the clouds, we were treated to the appearance of multiple vibrant rainbows, adding a touch of magic to the scene.

After a short walk from Seljalandsfoss along a narrow and rocky path, we arrived at Gljúfrabúi, also known as Gljúfrafoss, a hidden gem located near the more famous Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Tucked away within a narrow canyon and partially obscured by surrounding cliffs, Gljúfrabúi is often referred to as the “hidden waterfall.” Considering that we were already soaked from our previous adventure and Rishi was feeling chilly, he decided to stay outside the canyon and captured pictures from there to avoid getting wet again. To get an up-close view of Gljúfrabúi, the rest of us waded through the shallow water in the canyon or carefully used stepping stones. As we ventured further into the canyon, an awe-inspiring sight awaited us. Gljúfrabúi cascaded from an impressive height, forming a beautiful curtain of water that gracefully plunged into a serene pool below. The water flowed from an opening in the cliff above, adding to the location’s mystique and allure. Inside the concealed canyon, we were enveloped by the soothing sound of rushing water and the enchanting mist that filled the air, creating a truly magical atmosphere. The experience of discovering Gljúfrabúi was undeniably special and became one of the trip’s most memorable highlights.

Following our day of adventure, we arrived at our accommodation, Gesthús Selfossi, a delightful guesthouse nestled in Selfoss. With its combination of traditional Icelandic design and modern amenities, the guesthouse offered a perfect blend of rustic charm and comfort. The sprawling campus was covered in snow, adding to the enchanting ambience. It was also the first time during our trip that we would be staying in one place for more than a day. As our journey in Iceland was coming to an end, Gesthús Selfossi marked our final accommodation on this memorable trip.

Day 9 – 29 April 2023

As we didn’t have to check out of the hotel and were staying in the same place for an additional day, we experienced the luxury of having ample space in the car. It was a refreshing change to have extra room and we thoroughly enjoyed the newfound comfort.

Our first destination of the day was Kerid Crater, a volcanic marvel located near Selfoss. This crater was shaped over 3,000 years ago and stands about 270 meters wide, 55 meters deep, and 170 meters across. Kerid stands out for its features, including its striking red volcanic rock adorned with lush green vegetation and a lake nestled at its base. The water of the lake has a vivid turquoise hue, forming a contrast with the crimson walls of the crater. We strolled along the crater’s rim, taking in the breathtaking views. However, the place was quite crowded, and having already experienced two magnificent volcanic craters in the northern part of Iceland, we weren’t as awestruck by this one.

Next, we headed to Strokkur, a powerful geothermal geyser nestled in the Haukadalur Valley. With eruptions occurring approximately every 6 to 10 minutes, it propels scalding hot water up to 40 meters (131 feet) high into the air. We gathered around the geyser, filled with anticipation, eagerly awaiting the moment when it would erupt, shooting its steaming column of water high into the sky. The sight of Strokkur’s eruptions was truly thrilling, but capturing the perfect moment on camera proved to be quite challenging due to its unpredictable timing. After several attempts, we finally succeeded in capturing the spectacular eruption in video and a little bit in a photo. Despite the challenge, being able to witness this natural spectacle up close was an unforgettable experience. Additionally, the surrounding area of Strokkur offered other geothermal wonders, including mud pots and fumaroles, contributing to the enchanting geothermal wonderland of the Haukadalur Valley.

Our next destination was Gullfoss, also known as the “Golden Waterfall,” one of Iceland’s most magnificent and famous waterfalls. Fed by the Hvítá River, it forms a powerful display of nature’s force with two tiers, the first dropping 11 meters and the second dropping 21 meters. Gullfoss faced potential development for hydroelectric power in the early 20th century, but thanks to Sigríður Tómasdóttir’s passionate efforts, it was protected and became a symbol of environmental conservation in Iceland. As we approached, we were captivated by the thundering sound of rushing water and the mist rising from the deep canyon. On sunny days, the glacial water glistens with golden hues, giving the waterfall its name. From the viewing platforms, we enjoyed the breathtaking views and were fortunate to witness rainbows forming in the mist due to the sunny weather. Despite having visited numerous waterfalls at this point, we found each one to be remarkably distinct and captivating, leaving us thoroughly impressed and never feeling disappointed.

Finally, we visited the Secret Lagoon, also known as Gamla Laugin, one of Iceland’s oldest geothermal pools with natural hot springs that maintain a comfortably warm temperature throughout the year. Unlike the more popular and crowded geothermal pools, the Secret Lagoon offers a rustic and authentic experience with its natural surroundings. Although we debated between this and the Blue Lagoon, we chose the Secret Lagoon as a more affordable alternative. However, having already experienced the amazing Myvatn bath, we found this one to be smaller and were slightly underwhelmed. Nonetheless, it was still the perfect place to unwind and rejuvenate after a day of exploring the stunning Icelandic landscapes.

Following a rejuvenating bath, we wandered around the snow-covered grounds of Gesthús Selfossi. Later, we prepared our dinner, adding chicken legs to our usual meal.