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July 4-5, 2014

View of E10We set out this morningn to explore the landscape of the southern part of Iceland. It is very beautiful with large stretches of farmland, river gorges, waterfalls and glaciers. We were very lucky that the weather was clear enough to see the top of several of the glaciers in the area, including the one that erupted in 2010 - Eyjafjallajokull. It was nicknamed E10 by the journalists covering the eruption because they couldn't pronounce its name! There are 113 volcanoes in Iceland and at least 2 of them are overdue to erupt. They are really worried about the Katla volcano as it will cause a huge flood from the glacier above it.

UrridafossOur guide decided to detour a little to show us another of her favorite waterfalls that is not on the normal tourist itinerary. Urridafoss or "Waterfall of the Salmon" is not the biggest waterfall but it flows with the highest volume of water of any waterfall in Iceland.

SkogarfossWe then stopped at another waterfall - Skogarfoss. There is a scene in the movie "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" when he is in the Himalayas. It was actually filmed at this waterfall.

The big activity for today was a walk on a glacier. Walking on the glacierWe donned ice crampons and were given an ice axe. We followed a local guide up onto the glacier, stepping over small crevasses in the ice. To see a 3 minute video explanation of how ice caves and crevasses are formed click here. Our guide was from New Jersey and is studying glaciers at the University in Iceland. He gave an excellent description of how glaciers form. They are also constantly changing - receding and growing. To watch a 2 minute video explaining how glaciers are formed, click here. Carsons on glacierThe documentary "Chasing Ice" was filmed at this glacier - Solheimajokull - and there are still a couple cameras in operation around the glacier. This was a very exciting "walk" and the highlight of our trip so far.


We then journeyed to the south coast for an off road drive in jeeps.We climbed to an overlook with its lighthouse and views of the south coast. View of Black BeachThen we crossed some water to a black beach with interesting basalt formations. It poured rain during the jeep tour so you might see some water spots on some of the photos!Leaving Black Beach







SeljalandsfossOur final stop for the day was the wispy Seljalandsfoss waterfall. This picturesque waterfall drops about 200 feet over the rocky cliffs and we were able to hike behind it for some interesting views.Walking behind the falls









Fred dressed for raftingThe next morning we woke up to high winds (35mph) and cold temperatures (42 degrees). The activity of the day was a river rafting trip down the Hvita glacial river. Barbara had already decided she wasn't going as she does not enjoy river rafting, and the "glacial" river coupled with the cold air did not sound inviting. Because of the weather, 6 others from the group also opted out. But Fred went and said he enjoyed it, though his hands and feet were numb. Rafts on riverThose of us who didn't go were almost as cold as we stood on a bridge overlooking the river until the rafts passed underneath. Fred is in the second raft.



Greenhouse heated using geothermal energyWe also visited a flower farm. This is a family operation that was started in 1948 and has grown substantially since. It grows flowers year round by utilizing geothermal heat to grow Gerber daisies, lillies, roses and other species. These are picked and shipped to a central distribution point in Reykjavik where they are sold to grocery stores and other buyers. The owner said that 30% of his business is for funerals!

Geothermal Power PlantThe final stop on our tour of south Iceland was to a geothermal power plant at Hellisheidl. It is a combined heat and power plant that is designed to meet the needs for energy in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. We watched an animated video that explained the production process used to convert geothermal hot water to both electricity and heating for homes.

After the tour we returned by bus to Reykjavik for 2 nights before leaving for Greenland.

To view more photos from our trip around the south of Iceland, please go to South Iceland Photo Gallery. To read about the next location visited, go to Blue Lagoon .

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