Iceland: More Foss and Basalt Columns

We continued our exploration of Iceland’s southern coast by visiting some very special waterfalls (“foss” in Icelandic). The first waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, offered us the opportunity to see its majestic cascade of water from two viewpoints, front and back.

I approached the waterfall, already in awe of its power and relentless motion. It was smaller than many of the other waterfalls we’d already seen (read here and here), but still magnificent. Making sure my waterproof gear was tightly sealed (pants and jacket!), I began the climb to walk behind the falls for a completely different perspective.

Instantly I was transported to a scene straight out of a fantasy film. Mist enveloped me. The sound of the fall’s gushing water was mesmerizing. The continuously changing patterns of the flow was hypnotic to watch.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall

The fall was the main attraction, but the scenery surrounding it was also spectacular. Lush, velvety patches of moss and other greenery clung tenaciously to the rocks, flourishing from the never ending supply of moisture.

The scenery surrounding the waterfall

Damp and exhilarated, we headed to the next foss on the itinerary, Skogafoss. We couldn’t walk behind this one, but we could get as close as we wanted, provided we were prepared to get wet from the fall’s powerful spray. The momentum and vigor of the water was bedazzling. Though the photo mostly shows a lot of gray, the rocks around the falls were covered in a downy layer of richly hued mosses.

Skogafoss and the fall’s powerful spray

We boarded the bus and drove to Reynisfjara, a black sand beach where basalt columns reached high into the sky. Basalt columns are formed when lava cools over a period of time, causing the columnar shapes to form. We had seen these columns earlier in the trip from a distance, but at the beach we could walk up and touch them.

Basalt columns at Reynisfjara

My photos of the whole area are not that impressive, but I got one close up that shows the geometric formations and patterns of the columns. Growing out of the rocks were tufts of grasses, flowers, and other kinds of greenery. And of course all of this was set against a stunning panorama of a black sand beach. I was surprised how soft and smooth the black sand felt in my fingers, like grabbing a handful of crushed silk.

Here’s a bonus picture of Reynisfjara.

A picture of Reynisfjara

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