South Coast Iceland – Skogafoss

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Continuing my posts on the attractions on the South Coast of Iceland.

While driving on South coast you will notice waterfalls after every few kms. So we decided to make a stop at Skogafoss , one of the most popular waterfall in Iceland and a true rival of the Gullfoss.

The meaning of the name of this waterfall is “skógur” meant “forest” and “foss” meant waterfall. That means somewhere in the old days this must be a “Forest Falls”. But it does not look like a forest at the moment, but has a lush of green all around. The tall waterfall (of 25 metres (82 feet) and a drop of 60 m (200 ft)) surrounded by green mountains makes it spectacular.

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Due to the amount of spray the waterfall consistently produces, a single or double rainbow is normally visible on sunny days. But we could not capture that as given the time of the year we visited Iceland, there were very minute chances of Sun itself 🙂

During my time in Iceland, I was very much mesmerized with the stories behind each attraction. So I would like to share an Icelandic tale behind this waterfall 🙂

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According to Icelanders, the first Viking settler in the area, buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall. The legend continues that locals found the chest years later, but were only able to grasp the ring on the side of the chest before it disappeared again. The ring was allegedly given to the local church. The old church door ring is now in a museum. How interesting, that chest actually disappeared.

If you did not have enough of the sight, you can choose to hike the path that climbs up the cliffs surrounding the recess containing the falls to yield top down views of not only the waterfall but also the view towards the Atlantic Ocean as well.

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Just before leaving Skogafoss, we took a small turn around the area to have a quick look at the open air museum that shows the houses during old times in Iceland. When I looked at the houses it definitely looked pretty, but then the thought of how people managed to live is such a small space and how bad it would be during rainy and snow days.

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Hunting for Northern Lights, Iceland

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Like many of us, I also had one item in my bucket list to see dancing Northern Lights. And I have been so lucky to see those lights dazzling and dancing for us for one night during our trip. One of the most amazing nights of my life.

The Northern Lights are one of nature’s great exhibitions: a mysterious, colourful show in sky when suddenly it gets lit up with green, red, yellow lights twisting and dancing around like disco lights. It is an indefinable thrill that can make anyone overwhelmed with humble feelings.

One of the many reason to plan Iceland trip in winter was to try our luck to see Northern Lights. They are active and mostly visible during winter months.  The lights are formed from fast-moving, electrically charged particles that emanate from the sun. These are driven towards the poles by the Earth’s magnetic field – their varying colors are a result of the different gases in the upper atmosphere. Mostly green because of the oxygen present above  us.

While in Iceland, me & ash had a duty to check the Aurora forecast after every few hours.  The day we arrived in Reykjavik, it showed the Aurora forecast as Moderate. From what I have read that Aurora lights can be a mesmerizing affair even with moderate levels. Me and ash were in Iceland only for 5 days, so we did not want to miss the chance of hunting the moderate Northern Lights as well.

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So we headed out for our first NL hunting tour [ Organised by GrayLine Tours – http://grayline.is/] , our guide drove us into the darkness, away from the city lights and we reached Borganes. After spending few good hours in the darkness and cold night, very cold, we finally left the hope of seeing NL tonight. Just when we were walking back to bus, something appeared in the sky. It brought the excitement, we waited another 15mins for that something to glow a bit darker. And the there it was our first glimpse of  NL, a very low light in the sky. It was not dazzling, but were happy to see something and returned back to our hotels.

We still kept a check on aurora forecast over the week, and to our luck one of the nights NL became active again. Again that night we headed out towards Thingvellir National Park, and to out luck NL appeared and they were just not beautiful ,dazzling and bright, but they danced  for us for 4-5 hours. We were happy as a kid, at that moment it did not matter to us that weather outside is -10 degree C, what mattered was that lights decided to appear for us and the whole sky was lit up in green. And these moments were captured once again by Ash and his love lens 🙂

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Some interesting stories/myths/beliefs about Northern Lights that was told to us by our guide;

  1. Many beliefs around the northern lights see the phenomena as a good omen.
  2. Lights were the gods of harvest and hunting.
  3. It is still believed that a child conceived under the northern lights will be blessed with good fortunes.
  4. On the contrary Icelanders believed that it would ease the pain of childbirth for pregnant women, but they also believed that pregnant women looking at the Aurora would have cross eyed children. [ I do not think so it is true, as I haven’t met anyone in Iceland who was crossed eye 🙂 ]

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