Sunday, January 6, 2019

Iceland's Waterfalls, Hot Springs and Ice

     There's no shortage of water in Iceland. Everywhere my sister and I traveled (almost two weeks in August 2018), every mile along the coast and interior Iceland, water is crashing, falling, melting, freezing and moving. 

      Millions of years of a changing landscape because of water. This five-hundred plus foot cliff (below photo) is along Iceland's western coast where birds nest and roost.

     In the photo above, for perspective, there are hundreds of terns nesting on the cliff wall and two humans walking along the cliff (below photo zooms to show the detail). 

Picturesque calm bay . . .

     Some waterfalls were humongous; the red-roof home on the left side offers some perspective.

     Here's a better shot of that same waterfall known as the Skogafoss, falling almost 200 feet. See the tourists walking up the path (reportedly 527 steps) on the right side to the lookout point at the top?

Waterfalls everywhere!

Someone built stone corrals along this little waterfall . . . 

Every waterfall is a little bit different . . 

Doesn't it look like a waterfall coming from nowhere? See the tourists?

     The enjoyable part of visiting a waterfall, for me, is looking UP at the waterfall, not climbing to the top to look down.

Just your everyday waterfall along a road somewhere; see both of them?

Big fat waterfalls and skinny elongated waterfalls.

     Can't remember where this waterfall was, but it was obviously along the paved Ring Road. See all the parked cars and the crowd of tourists at the foot of the falls?

     In fact, we got tired of waterfalls and eventually didn't stop, passing on by just like a local.

This waterfall (below) however was out of this world stunning! See the tourists on the left side walking to the lookout point?

     The hike to this waterfall (below) was fun. It's a world heritage site; where a rift valley is formed between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. More about that in another post.

Ho hum, another waterfall . . . .

Same waterfall below? Nope, different one!

They also use hot water to generate electricity and to keep greenhouses operating year-round.

The greenhouses are fascinating. Very little soil and almost everything is automated.

Each plant's roots are submerged in a miniscule amount of soil that gets drip-water on a schedule. High tech vegetables!

     Those skinny green stems (photo above) each go to a tiny pot of soil, about 2" by 2". This is a cucumber greenhouse. The next greenhouse will be tomatoes, etc. 
     Only one percent of Iceland's land is agriculturally used, and grass (hay, cut and rolled in colorful plastic bags) is the primary "crop".


     There are also several dairy farms heated by geothermal waters. This dairy barn at Flatey houses about 550 cows and calves.

     Inside, everything is automated.

     Milking is automated too. The cows with ID neckbands walk over to the robotic milking machine (big red contraption in front) which eyeballs the teats and cleans them before attaching; data on time and milk volume is recorded for each cow. We witnessed a couple of skirmishes (hey! no butting in line, go to the back! Mabel said to Ethel) but mostly they calmly wait in line for their turn at these machines. Very little interaction with humans.

The calves are kept separate from the time they're born.

There were signs describing the entire dairy operation with a cat-walk for tourists in a loft area.

     We also saw a couple of barn cats strolling and napping in the barn. And we were amazed to see a couple robotic pooper scoopers.

     They had a pre-designed route throughout the barn; the floor was relatively clean considering all those cows. They moved very slowly so as not to scare the cows.

     Photo above is one of Iceland's geysers which didn't blow while I waited with a camera and then when I tired of waiting and put my camera away, it blew up quickly and briefly.

Hot pools are usually too hot for humans (212 degrees Fahrenheit).

      Photo above is the less famous "Secret Lagoon" which is more natural and intimate than the famed Blue Lagoon where thousands of tourists arrive in hordes of busses paying outlandish prices. See my happy sister, center of photo?
     I much preferred swimming laps in a heated swimming pool. Almost every village has a "sundlaug" either indoors or outdoors; photo below is the village of Vik's pool which overlooks the seashore, mountains and glaciers. How lucky can a lap swimmer get? Yes it was cold getting out, but nearby was a hot tub.

We joined a small group of kayakers one day.

     It took an hour for our small group to get fitted in dry suits, gloves, boots and vests.

Ice grips on our boots were a MUST.

     It was a bit treacherous, walking around to view the special places. One wrong slip and bye-bye! The guide was very knowledgeable. 

     Paddling a double-seated kayak with my sister was fun (photo below isn't us, but we took our turn there). 

That's me (below photo) in the front. Notice how silty the water is? Glacial waters mix with black volcanic ash.

     The tricky part of paddling around mini-icebergs (unknownst to me at the time) is that they move continually.

    So if we found a passage way to a certain point, chances are high we wouldn't be able to return on that same passage way, because the mini-icebergs merge and separate continually, slowly but surely.

     I hadn't realized going-into this wonderful adventure how beautiful shiny sculptured ice could be . . .

It was fortunately a beautiful day for paddling.

Slow moving icebergs . . .

      Below is our guide pushing a mini-iceberg over to make a passage way out for us. If there's no passage way, we'd have to lug and walk our kayaks on treacherous larger icebergs. And climbing an iceberg to get a view of a potential passage way is treacherous too. 

     Below photo is the cute little fishing village of Husavik, population 2,182 which is known for its wooden church (center of photo) built in 1907. 

This is the interior of that cute wooden church.

     Husavik is also known for its whale watching business. Whales of different species visit Husavik's warm bay annually.

We got lucky with a sighting of a humpback whale.

Same whale below . . . see the large white front flipper just under the surface?

Next post, I'll mention Iceland's unique weather-durable architecture.


  1. Love refreshing the memories we shared in Iceland !!!!! Thanks for being a wonderful travel companion !!! The photos are really stunning !!!!

    1. The last three are my photos and all the others are your photos Vicki, and thank you too for being a wonderfully compatible great friend on the road :)

  2. Throwing a huge hug and a kiss out your way !!