South Coast of Iceland + Glacier Hiking

December 4, 2018

After exploring the north of Reykjavik the day before, it was time for us to explore and see what the south coast of Iceland has to offer. The South Coast of Iceland is also one of the popular routes that tourists take in Iceland. The drive here is much more farther than the Golden Circle route but it’s definitely worth the drive (or sitting for us, because we took a tour).

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How We Picked This Tour

We booked the Sensational Iceland South Coast and Glacier Hike Tour again from Extreme Iceland. They have other South Coast Tours available but we wanted to go up close to a glacier and not just see it from afar.

We visited on December so the daylight was very limited. We initially planned to book the South Coast with Jokulsarlon Lagoon Tour but it skips Reynisfjara and Skogafoss in the winter. We really wanted to visit Reynisfjara Beach so we just booked the tour that we ended up going which included those two sights plus the Glacier Hike, minus Jokulsarlon.

Jokulsarlon Lagoon is also a super long drive from Reykjavik. Although it’s super pretty in pictures, we just decided to skip it this time. Hopefully we can go there one day when we go back to Iceland! ❤

Cost

The South Coast with Glacier Hike Tour costs ISK 18,990 (PHP 8,200 / USD 160). It’s  ISK 1000 cheaper than the South Coast with Jokulsarlon Tour mainly because Jokulsarlon is 5 hours away from Reykjavik (around 2 hours farther than where we did the Glacier Hike). The tour includes the following:

  1. Hotel Pick up and drop off
  2. South Coast Tour – Skogafoss Waterfalls, Reynisfjara Beach at the city of Vik, Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls (although it was already dark when we got here)
  3.  Guided Glacier Hike Tour – with glacier hiking gear such as crampons, ice axes, harness, and hard hats
  4. Free Wifi on the bus

What to WearIMG_3398 copy

Since we went hiking, we needed to wear hiking boots or any kind of boots that had a thick sole and one that covered our ankles. This was because we wore crampons during the hike and it needs to be attached to a proper shoe for it to not come off. On the day of our tour, I wore:

  1. A waterproof jacket (from The North Face, with layers of thermals inside that I got from Uniqlo & GU)
  2. Three layers of pants (from GU & Forever 21. I did not wear waterproof pants but I think it helps if you do.)
  3. A beanie (from Decathlon, with a thick lining inside. I love how their kid’s beanies fit very well on my head, plus it’s super warm!)
  4. A scarf that I can cover my face with (from Uniqlo. Such a lifesaver! I recommend you to bring one because it definitely protected my face from the cold.)IMG_6546

These can also be rented when booking your tour:

  1. Hiking Shoes – ISK 1000 (Can be rented on the spot before the glacier hike.)
  2. Waterproof Jacket or Pants – ISK 1,000 each (You will need to rent this when booking your tour because the driver will be the one who will bring this.)

Our Itinerary

Our driver/tour guide picked us up at exactly 8:00 in the morning. For both of our tours, we were always picked up first so we always sat in the front of the van.

1st Stop: Breakfast Break

After driving for more than an hour from Reykjavik, we stopped by at a local grocery store/coffee shop in Hella. We got ourselves croissants, hotdogs and some coffee. I took a photo of their menu and everything was reasonably priced.

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2nd Stop: Skogafoss

Our next stop was the incredible Skogafoss Waterfalls. We skipped Seljalandsfoss because we needed to finish the glacier hike before sundown. We arrived to a gloomy Skogafoss and it was snowing. Our guide told us that everything was still green when she did the tour the day before. I remember that we weren’t given too much time here and like Gulfoss, it also has another viewpoint from above that requires going up the stairs.

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Also, my boyfriend suddenly proposed to me here, NBD. ❤

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I asked him after why he chose this place. He said that he had the ring all this time and he was super amazed when we arrived at Skogafoss so he decided to propose on the spot. lollll &&& OMG I just found out that they used this waterfalls in GOT!!! Jon Snow & Dany kissed in front of this waterfalls after riding their dragons on Season 8 Ep 1 <3<3<3

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3rd Stop: Reynisfjara Beach, Vik

We then drove 30 minutes to the Black Sand Beach in Vik. They say that a lot of movies were also shot here. Some parts of the beach were covered in snow so it was very beautiful.

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This beach is famous for its basalt columns. It was nothing like I’ve ever seen before. These were formed from lava that flows from the volcano which eventually cooled down.

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A few steps away from the basalt columns, this gorgeous view just amazed the hell out of me. <3<3<3 It was so surreal!

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There is a free restroom inside Reynisfjara Beach’s cafe. I did not get to see what they were selling there because we had limited time. I think the time given to us here was just enough. We were able to take good pictures, appreciate the view, and enjoy the waves. Be careful though, the waves here are no joke. We were warned not to go near the water because there have already been a lot of instances were the current was strong and tourists would get caught up in the current.

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This doesn’t look like I’m at the beach at all. Felt like I was north of the wall in this photo. lol

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4th Stop: Glacier Hike at Sólheimajökull Glacier

This was the highlight of our tour because we got to spend time going into the glacier and seeing it up close. When we went snowmobiling the day before, we just saw how vast and wide the glacier was but it was all flat and the snow capped mountains were quite far from our route. I still would prefer snowmobiling than hiking though (because sitting > hiking) but I love that we also did this hike to see ice formations up close and cool ice stuff that we’ve never seen before.

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We hiked towards the foot of the glacier and we were taught how to put on our crampons. I say we did quite a good job putting them on. lol

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We then started our hike and we were surrounded by majestic views of snow filled mountains. It was so nice!! And the flat surface below that is actually a frozen lake. I felt like i was Anna (from Frozen) at some point. lol

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There were other groups hiking different trails and we would pass by them. I asked our guide if there were any ice caves on this glacier and he sad there was one that’s near where we were. I was actually standing above the cave in this photo below.

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Our guide told us that these glaciers have been here for quite a long time. We really saw what’s the ice is made up of inside. There were other parts of the glacier which were very blue. That’s because it’s made up of years and years of different layers of snow and ice compressed together. There were also parts where we can see some lava residue inside the glacier which was also already compressed into the glacier. It was super amazing to see.

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The whole hike back and forth took more than an hour. Our guide was very friendly and he answered all of our questions well. It was actually his first year working as a guide and it was also his first day doing a snowy hike.

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I think everyone (including those who don’t exercise that much) can survive the hike even will all the hilly parts of the glacier. It was tiring at times but it was so worth the view and the whole experience. We had kids in our group who came with their parents and they did perfectly well on the hike. This is definitely a must do when in Iceland (I mean, everything is a must-do in Iceland. lol).

5th Stop: Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls

Our last stop was at Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls. It was already dark when we arrived so I was not able to take photos of the spots where Justin Bieber exactly was when he shot his music video. lol For your reference, watch the video here! lol

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I would definitely love to visit here again so that I can go behind the waterfalls just like Justin Bieber. lol

Thoughts on the Tour

I would definitely recommend this 100%!! Although we were not able to visit the Jokulsarlon Lagoon, the drive was bearable on this tour and we were able to visit quite a lot of places and see a glacier up close.

If I could choose between the tour we did the day before and this tour, I would still choose the Golden Circle tour because of the Snowmobiling experience but the sights that were on this tour were definitely more picturesque than the sights in the Golden Circle. Sure, the Gulfoss waterfalls, Geysir and the Pingvellir National Park are beautiful but nothing beats our experience of being at the foot of a snowy Skogafoss waterfall or seeing the unique lava formations at the Reynisfjara beach. So to summarize, in my opinion:

Snowmobiling > Glacier Hike
South Coast Sights (Skogafoss, Reynisfjara Beach)  > Golden Circle Sights (Gulfoss, Geysir & Pingvellir)

Hope that makes sense. lol Need to apply for a Schengen visa to visit Iceland? Click here to learn how to apply for an Iceland Tourist Visa!

 

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One thought on “South Coast of Iceland + Glacier Hiking

  1. Pingback: A Guide to First Time Visitors in Iceland | The Adventures of Ting Ting

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