There is something different about Iceland. It’s wild, rugged, hostile, and beautiful. There is a sense of adventure on the island that compels you to go out and explore. I arrived on the island with no plans. My only goals were to swim in a natural hot spring and to see the “other worldly” landscape. I learned of Skogafoss waterfall from a visiting friend while in Istanbul, and from his description I decided it was worthing checking out.

The one major problem with Iceland is price. Everything is expensive: accommodation, food, and of course tourism. Since this was my final destination before returning home after 4.5 months abroad, I was desperately trying to live on the cheap. My first day in Iceland I tried to hitch a ride east from Reykjavik to Skogafoss, but it proved to be harder than I had anticipated. Although the road system in Iceland is very easy (there is basically one road that goes around the coast of the whole island), I did not know where to hitch a ride from in Reykjavik. After attempting to hitch for an hour and no luck I broke down and decided to go to the bus station. I walked to the bus station and arrived around 10am, but by the time I was there it was already too late. The one bus to Skogafoss for the day had already left. At this point it was too late to start any serious adventures, so I settled for a day in Reykjavik and Videy Island which I will cover in another blog post.

The next morning I woke up early and made it to the bus stop on time. When I got there I asked a man working outside which bus was headed to Skogafoss. I was very early, and he pointed me to a parked bus waiting and told me to hop on. Luckily for me the bus was not full, and no one ever asked me for a ticket, so the ride ended up being free. I did feel bad about taking advantage of this situation, but I was really low on money at this point so decided to enjoy the free trip. The bus ride was long (2.5 hrs), but I enjoyed every minute of it, taking in the other worldly landscape of Iceland. Volcanic rock, steam rising from the ground, ocean and mountains were all on full display.

Skogafoss is a popular attraction, but it did not feel so overcrowd that I could not enjoy it. At the base of the waterfall there were two restaurants/info centres and a motel. Several people had also pitched tents in the soft grassy fields at the base. I did not know this before I got there, but Skogafoss is actually the beginning (or end) to an epic hike called “Fimmvorduhals” http://www.nat.is/travelguideeng/plofin_fimmvorduhals.htm. I only did the first 8km of this beautiful trail, and it killed me to turn around when it got too late for me to continue. I was so impressed with the first 8km that I wish I had dedicated my precocious three days in Iceland to this trail alone. The website says the whole thing is 23km and takes 10 hrs of hiking. Along the way you will pass tens of amazing waterfalls, glaciers, and a lava field. This trail is officially on my bucket list.

Like I mentioned the base of the waterfall is very busy, but walk for an hour up the trail and it becomes very quite. I had some nice stretches where I was the only one to be seen. The hike is constant uphill (the portion I did) and reaches a peak of 1000m elevation. You will discover quickly in Iceland that the weather changes very quickly, and Skogafoss did not disappoint. I went from being too hot, to cold, then wet from the rain, and then hot again. Dress in layers and come prepared for anything.

As I hiked back down towards the base of Skogafoss I felt humbled and rejuvenated. Its hard not to be inspired by the beauty and ruggedness of the place. The hike back down was much quicker than predated, so I still had several hours to kill before the bus came, so I decided to take another stab at hitch hiking…

This time it was much easier, there was only one road around, and it was a safe bet who ever was on that road was driving to Reykjavik. So I put on my backpack and happy face and stuck out the thumb. In less than 10 minutes a young guy in a beat up looking car pulled over and offered me a ride. I graciously accepted, thinking I would be back in the homey comforts of Reykjavik soon…

4.5 hrs later, after more than 5 stops to cool the cars radiator down with ocean water, and several close calls I was finally back in Reykjavik. My driver turned out to be a 17 year old kid from Norway who now lives in Iceland. He was a really kind guy, but the constant snap chatting, texting, song changing, stories of speeding tickets and the car constantly breaking down had me on edge the whole ride. At the end of the day though, this was exactly the adventure I came to Iceland looking for. Extreme nature, and warm souls. And most importantly I was treated to some Icelandic rap on the ride home.