“A magical day´s combination of waterfalls, glaciers, volcanoes, endless black sandy beaches and a chance to meet the locals ”
Departure time: 08:00 AM
Duaration: 12 hours
Type of group: Small group
Avalabillity: All year
Pick up: Anywhere in Reykjavík
Drop off: Anywhere in Reykjavík
Hespuhúsið wool studio
Meeting a local
What do I need to bring?
Warm clothes: Scarf, a winter hat, gloves and warm socks
Waterproof jacket and pants
Good sturdy shoes
Dress according to weather and remember that the wind factor can be considerable in Iceland.
National park entrance fee
Professional local guidance in English
Pickup and drop off on selected places (see detail)
Food & drinks
Tip or gratuity
Bookings are non-refundable. All sales are final.
The Grand South Coast Tour
Included in the tour
Hespuhúsið wool studio
Meeting a local viking woman
Seljalandsfoss waterfall, a watefall you can walk behind
Skógafoss, rainbows and hidden treasure
Reynisfjara, the wild Atlantic and basalt columns
Sólheimajökull, time to explore a disappearing glacier!
Vík, a bustling town in the shadow of a slumbering volcano
Iceland´s South Coast is unique, in complete contrast to the rest of the country´s fjord-indented coastline. Over the centuries volcanic ash from subglacial eruptions has been regularly carried south by flooding glacial rivers and deposited along the coast. This explains the miles of distinctive black sandy beaches that are iconic for the region.
Driving eastwards from Reykjavik the scenery is positively stunning. To your left, on the landward side, you have majestic glaciers beneath which lurk some of Iceland´s most volatile volcanoes; on the other side, sheep and horses graze on the broad coastal lowland and the untamable Atlantic Ocean pounds the shoreline in dramatic style.
We drive past the volcano with the unpronounceable name, Eyjafjallajökull, which brought world aviation to a standstill in 2010 when it erupted. And then there´s Hekla, a vicious volcano that has frequently unleashed its destructive temper on the nation and that appears ready to blow its top once again.
One of the geological features of a land still very much in the making is waterfalls. At this time, rivers have only barely begun the process of carving their way through cliff faces. Iceland has so many waterfalls that we´ve run out of names!
Today you get to see some spectacular waterfalls, all very different and beautiful. One you can actually walk behind; another you might try your luck and see if you can find the chest of treasure hidden behind the cascading torrent by a miserly local farmer way back.
We go down onto the black beach and marvel at a cliff face and cave made of fantastic basalt columns. Just offshore are towering sea stacks locals believe to be trolls turned to stone by the first rays of the rising sun.
The coast is teeming with birdlife and depending on the season we might even spot the adorable puffin perched on cliff tops.
A highlight of the trip is where we walk to the tongue of an outlet glacier creeping down from the main ice cap. Up close you get to appreciate the stark beauty and power of this gigantic natural phenomenon. Seeing just how far the glacier has receded in recent years, brings home the devastating impact climate change is having on the environment.
Lunch we have in the scenic town of Vík. It´s long been a tradition for those travelling the South Coast to break their journey here. The surrounding scenery is pretty awesome, from the town´s church standing guard high up on the hillside to the expansive black beach and the raging sea.
At Thor Travel our aim is to give our clients as authentic a taste of Iceland as possible. One way to do this is by having you meet the locals. On the Grand South Coast Tour, we stop and meet Guðrún Bjarnadóttir, a Viking lady who has devoted herself to keeping alive the ancient Icelandic skills of wool dyeing using various plants. Sharing a coffee, we listen to and chat with Guðrún and watch her work her magic.
Seljalandsfoss – take a walk on the wild side behind a magical waterfall
No visit to Iceland would be complete without seeing some fine waterfalls and the South Coast offers a selection of the country´s best, each unique in its own way.
The location of Seljalandsfoss waterfall is stunning. The narrow flow of water cascades gracefully 60 meters (180 feet), over a high cliff into a pool below. The grassy slope leading up to the waterfall and the wildflowers that bloom in summer add to the glorious experience.
One of the special features of this waterfall is that you can actually walk behind it. Just be prepared to get somewhat wet!
Skógafoss – rainbows and hidden treasure
Just a 15-minute drive further east is Skógafoss waterfall. Its waters thunder 60 meters (180 feet) off a cliff face that was former coastline. This is one of the largest waterfalls in the country.
One has the choice of walking right up to the foot of the waterfall; or for a grand panoramic view from the top, there´s a stairway up the side of the waterfall.
Large clouds of spray come off the waterfall and when the sun´s rays hit these the outcome is the most wonderful rainbow.
There´s an old legend that tells of the first settler in the area who rather than share his wealth decided to hide it in a chest behind the waterfall. Years later some brave lads attempted to recover the chest, but before they could drag it out the handle broke off. This handle was for a long time the knocker on the nearby church door.
Because of how dramatic the waterfall is, several major movies have selected it as a location for scenes. These include, Vikings, Thor: The Dark World and Game of Thrones.
Reynisfjara – The wild Atlantic, basalt columns and miles of black sandy beach
Driving further east we come to Reynisfjara, the most famous black sand beach on the South Coast. It´s been rated as one of the top ten most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world. The black sand is actually lava broken down over time by the sea.
Take time to marvel at the raw power of the Atlantic Ocean as the waves crash on the beach and the cliff face made of basalt columns.
Just offshore are the Reynisdrangar, sea stacks towering out of the sea. Locals believe them to be trolls who were once pulling a boat to shore when they were caught by the rays of the rising sun and turned to stone. Today the stacks are home to thousands of nesting seabirds.
Vík – A bustling town in the shadow of a slumbering volcano
Vík is Iceland´s southernmost town and where we have lunch. A bustling place that once was a trading post, this is where travelers like to break their journey, stretch their legs, grab a bite and tank up.
The scenery roundabout is fantastic. There´s the lovely local church perched high on the hill, the long black sandy beach, lush green pastures, and cliffs that are home to thousands of seabirds.
Vík sits in the shadow of the mighty subglacial volcano, Katla, a slumbering giant the locals are very wary of. Over the centuries the volcano has wreaked havoc and destruction on communities living along the South Coast. But that´s what comes with living in this wild and untamed country aptly named the Land of Ice and Fire.
Sólheimajökull glacier – time to explore a disappearing glacier!
Since 11% of Iceland is covered with glaciers it seems only right that we should get to see one. Sólheimajökull glacier is the country´s southernmost, an impressive outlet glacier coming off a major ice cap and crawling down towards the coastal lowland. The great thing is how accessible it is.
Sadly, the glacier has been receding rapidly these past decades, the length of an Olympic swimming pool each year.
From the car park we take a walk up to the glacier´s tongue. In front of the glacier is a large lagoon which is growing as the glacier melts and recedes. The scenery here is on a grand scale and one gets to appreciate the raw power of this majestic giant of nature as it crawls down towards us.
Hespuhúsið – The Icelandic Yarn House and meeting a local Viking woman
The Icelandic sheep is a creature dear to the Icelandic heart. Through the centuries this special breed with its double-coated fleece enabled this nation to survive.
In the severe winter cold and in a land where food was in short supply, the hardy sheep provided both food and clothing.
At the Icelandic Yarn House studio, Guðrún Bjarnadóttir, a yarn specialist, offers a fascinating and entertaining insight into the history of Icelandic wool and the natural dyeing techniques used by Icelanders.
Drawing on a wide selection of plants Guðrún works her magic in her dye pots to conjure up the most wonderfully colored yarns.
This is where Thor Travel gives you the opportunity to chat with a local and so get to know a little more about us Icelanders and the way of life.