For families who love nature, Iceland is a must-see. On our recent vacation, we spent one very full day exploring southwest Iceland’s landscape of extreme contrasts — from waterfalls with mossy green cliffs to icebergs, glaciers and barren lava fields.
We started off our road trip along the southwest coast of Iceland by walking up to and behind the Seljalandfoss waterfall, then crept into a narrow valley to find the “hidden” Gljufurarbui waterfall. Continuing along the Ring Road, we were soaked by the powerful spray of the Skogafoss waterfall before we finally stripped off our rain gear. Further along, we were awed by the black sand beaches of Vík, contrasted with the vibrant green cliffs that edge up to the water and the enormous stone sea-stack formations just off the coastline.
After two hours of flat, desolate lava lands interspersed with glimpses of glaciers, we arrived at the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Here, we embarked on a zodiac boat tour through the varying shapes of icebergs to approach the quickly receding glacier face in the distance. Despite this bounty of scenery and “wow” moments, we were most charmed by something much smaller: the tiny puffins that nested below our feet when we walked out along the Dyrhólaey promontory to view the sea arch below. It’s crucial to watch your step, but it is very tempting to peer over the edge at these comical creatures. While you can see thousands of them nesting off the coast of Reykjavik or in other places throughout the country, it is only when you get to see them up close that you can understand what makes them so fascinating. As with many family trips, random wildlife encounters in Iceland generate the biggest smiles.
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Editor’s Note: Photo by Tamara Gruber.