Driving the Reykjanes Peninsula to Kleifarvatn Lake and the Seltun Geothermal Field #Iceland #travel

Since we had a late flight home, my husband and I decided to make the most out of our last day in Iceland by driving around the Reykjanes Peninsula, where Keflavik Airport is located. The drive is lovely, with the exception of the sulfur smell that pervades the air as you drive. At times it can be quite over-whelming. The peninsula is filled with geothermal activity and hosts the famous Blue Lagoon, the geothermal wastewater container turned major tourist attraction/spa.

We opted not to join the throngs of tourists at this man-made wonder, and instead we made our way south down Rt 42 from Reykjavik. It’s not a large peninsula, and it doesn’t take long to reach the first stop worth pulling over, Kleifarvatn Lake.

Kleifarvatn Lake is bordered by black sands and stunning volcanic hills.

The lake is stunning, and well-worth pulling over to take in its beauty, and capture a few memories in photographs. Although there is no formal road leading down to the water, there are cars that ignore the signs and drive down to the water’s edge. We pulled over with other tourists in one of the lots over-looking the lake to take our photos and selfie.

The contrasting colors and contours of the landscape make for a breath-taking spot.

Although our stay beside the lake was brief, we were glad we did not miss the splendor of this gem inside the peninsula.

Our selfie at the lake

After taking photographs from different angles to capture the lake’s beauty, we headed back down Rt 42 towards the Seltún geothermal field.

The Seltún Geothermal Field

The smell of sulfur greets you before you pull up to the parking lot at the Seltún Geothermal Field. The odor of the landscape, along with its colors and textures, gives you the feel that you are somewhere other than Earth.

The bubbling red-gray of the barren hillside of Seltún contrasts with its lush green surroundings.

To be quite honest, I found the area difficult to navigate, not due to the terrain, but because of the over-whelming odor of sulfur. If you are sensitive to the smell, you may want to consider wearing a mask. I found myself covering my nose with the sleeve of my coat as we walked through the smelliest areas. Aside from the odor, though, the area is quite intriguing and, in some ways, beautiful with its steaming pewter-colored steams meandering through red sands.

The other-worldly landscape of Seltún is worth at least a brief pause to take in before you continue your walk.

We followed the paths along the main area of the field up into the hillside, where you you can see some more geothermal vents as well as gorgeous views of the surrounding area. Click through for a glimpse of the rest of our visit to Seltún.

Do take care if you walk up the hillside. The terrain can be quite slippery and steep. We had plenty of its red clay stuck to our shoes afterwards, and saw some visitors cleaning it off theirs in the cool stream that descends from its summit. We opted to clap ours off as best we could before we got back into our car and headed towards our next stop, a still-steaming volcano…

Traveling the South Coast to Skógafoss #skogafoss #iceland #waterfalls #travel

We departed the stunning Seljalandsfoss as the clouds began to roll in, and headed towards our next destination. Not too far up the road, is another one of Iceland’s famous waterfalls. This one is fed by the Skógá river, and is also visible from the highway. The distance, though, belies its impressive size and power.

There’s a bit of trek from the parking areas to the falls. Note the faces in the hillside.

In some ways I was a bit dismayed that the skies above us had clouded over and a light rain had begun to pour down. When I took in the landscape around Skógafoss, though, I realized the weather provided the perfect atmosphere for our meeting.

A close-up of the mighty falls. Unlike Seljalandsfoss, the falls are not very approachable. Their force is quite powerful, as is their spray, and the river flows wide above and beneath them.

The land here is palpably alive. The hills animated with forms that make you wonder who is really in charge. Not-so-hidden guardians peer over the parking lot and watch the water as though cataloguing who belongs and who does not.

Guardians in the hills

Reverence and respect are essential, as Skógafoss and its mighty Skógá river clearly wield the power.

The hues of green in the landscape, along with its contours give it an other-worldly feel.

Standing as near as you can get to the bottom of the falls, you will get a true sense of the power that is unleashed by the water, as well as a good spray.

We took our selfie from a bit of a distance.

The only way from there is up. Up a steep and rather tall hillside. Which can also be quite slippery. Do take care here if you visit and wear solid hiking shoes.

The force of the falls from above

If you have the time, walk a bit along the Skógá river. I can’t tell you how far to venture, as the possibilities seem almost limitless here. One can travel as far as some of Iceland’s glacier from here, but that would take a fair amount of time and preparedness. Fatigue and lack of a good night’s sleep dictated how far we traveled that day, but it was enough to get a feel of the magic of the landscape. Click through the slideshow to take in some of the wonders of the Skógá river.

We were also getting hungry. As we somewhat reluctantly turned around to make our way back down the steep and slippery hillside, our thoughts turned toward food. The Skógafoss Bistro Bar sits at the entrance to the parking lots, and offers a tasty array of foods for the hungry traveler, as well as wonderful views of the waterfall. We were more than sated after we left to embark upon our next adventure.

Our meal with a view

Although we didn’t hike to the glaciers behind Skógafoss, we were headed toward one not too far off the highway.

Next up: Sólheimajökull