A Visit for the Curious and Adventurous


One of our first stops just outside of Vík, in southern Iceland, is Hjörleifshöfði, a craggy small mountain on a black sand beach overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean. Named after one of Iceland’s first settlers, who according to legend was laid to rest at its summit after being murdered by his Irish slaves for being a not so nice guy, it is a home to pudgy little fulmars.

North Atlantic coastline

This strip of coastline is just as formidable a foe to humans. Nowadays the main danger posed by the North Atlantic is sneaker waves sucking in unsuspecting, selfie-crazed tourists.

The base of Myrdalsjökull

Katla was a moody sorceress with a pair of magic underpants, which helped her run without tiring. When a naive farm boy dared to borrow them, she retaliated by drowning him in a vat. Upon discovering her crime, the townspeople chased her out of the village. Thanks to her magic underpants, she managed to evade them by running to the glacier Myrdalsjökull and hiding in a crevasse. But soon after, the volcano beneath erupted more forcefully than ever causing glacial flooding. The eruption was attributed to Katla’s rage and henceforth became her namesake. My takeaway: keep your hands off other people’s underwear!

River crossing on the way to the trailhead


There’s a dense fog as we head towards the pass between the two volcanoes. It is sprinkled with black dust and pocked with craters. Sheets of ice cover large swaths of the path. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve suspected our jeep had taken a detour to the moon.

Skógá river

But about an hour after crossing the pass, the trail hits the Skógá river. Ice, dust, and craters morph into the lushest landscape in the most verdant shade of green (un)imaginable. I count no fewer than a gazillion waterfalls. And I’m quite sure that the stream “water” I refill my bottle with is actually ambrosia. By the time I reach waterfall number gazillion and one my eyes are damp. And for anyone whose eyes don’t mist up when they see this place for the first time, you must be a heartless ptarmigan!

Waterfall gazillion and one

I could go on ad nauseam about what else we discovered when we drove down the “roads” less traveled. But I’ll just leave you with this: Iceland is a fairytale, the hidden people are real, and there’s magic concealed in every cranny, crater, and crevice.

The following pictures are of other amazing places, which I did not write about for the sake of brevity…

Diamond Beach

Glacial calving seen at the end of an unmarked road


My uncle’s cabin