Posts Tagged ‘waterfalls’

This post combines two days on daytours out of Reykjavik. The Fire and Ice Tour booked through Iceland Tours and the Grand Golden Circle Tour booked through Busland.

We had booked a Fire and Ice Tour which included a three hour trek on a glacier. I was a bit worried about this because you know I’m old, I have bad knees and I’ve got a problem with my foot. It was a pricey tour around $450 Au so probably $350 US but the description was very cool and because it was hands on we went for it.

In Bergen I had inadvertently invested a fortune in hiking boots. I thought I was spending under $200 but ended up spending just over $300. They are great boots btw. I will have to take up tramping or hiking to get my money’s worth. Doh! I had currency conversion blindness. Anyway, you can hire them from the tour company along with wet weather gear. I didn’t know this before hand. Oops!

Anyway, once in Reykjavik we got to know our way around. Our tour was picking up from BSI but the local bus doesn’t go there. I tried to change the pick up place but the office was shut. Then I discovered that on Sundays the buses don’t start until 9.55am and our tour pick up was 8 ish. So it was a taxi anyway. We waited at BSI and lots of tour buses pick up from there, Icelandic horse rides etc.

It was an effing miserable day. Raining and cold. We had only just thawed out and we were going out in that! Sigh. Our bus arrived. We were the only ones on the tour. My god we had a personalised tour!! I thought they would cancel if only two but no, Ingimundur said he was taking us.

A few things of note. Icelandic is a very musical and delightful language. I wish I had the tongue and ear  for it. We had to ask Ingimundur quite a few times to repeat his name. He gave us a very informative tour and our conversations ranged from Iceland’s economics, history and geology. On the way back he played Icelandic music for us. Beans likes a few Icelandic performers.

The Icelandic landscape is many things at once. It’s a young land geologically speaking. Mountains thrust up out of lava plains, moss covers lava fields range next to the coast near Reykjavik, clouds obscure volcanoes and glaciers blanket a large part of the country. The landscape is sometimes bleak. I thought of descriptors but words fail really to communicate what the Icelandic landscape is and also the camera really fails to deliver what the eye sees. I only had the iPhone so I apologise for that. Rugged, spectacular, raw, primal, dramatic, awe inspiring, amazing, beautiful, stark, breathe taking, breath stealing…

This post is mostly going to be photos with interspersed comments. This top one is of other people abseiling into a great effing hole in the glacier. Crazy! The second one is a Hollywood pose. I do have my feet stuck in the ice though so technically I am hanging there.

We did drink some of the water on the glacier. It was pure and cold. The guy talking to me is Ingimuntur, our guide. The view down to the river was taken on the glacier. Truly amazing sight. This glacier is Sólheimajökull glacier tongue, so just the tip of a really big glacier. It’s has ash and grit in it. From the distance the other glaciers looked white.

The bottom line is that we were both so glad to have done this tour. Walking the glacier was a pivotal moment for us, a defining moment of our trip. We had ice shoes fitted (crampons?), a harness and a ice pick thingie whatsit!

I want to say one thing. I did not complain the whole trip across the ice. I did not whinge. I did not want to spoil it for my daughter. My inner dialogue though was something else. A snippet for you. “Oh God we are not climbing up there are we?” And “OMG! We are still going up?”  And “Thank god we are going down hill! Yay!” “God I’m tired I don’t think I can lift my feet”. I did nearly tip myself into a moulin. hahaha!

These are some distance shots of the glacier.

We also saw a couple of waterfalls on the way. This one we got to walk behind (Selfoss). You did this at your own risk. There was some slippery rocks to climb over and the spray was so cold and wet too. There were other waterfalls nearby.

These other pics were of the landscape. Not good taken from the bus. There was just so much.

The hot stream was entirely bone warming despite the walk to get there. I giggled as I walked down this incredible hill, because I knew I had to walk up it. By then I was bone tired.

Moss covered lava. This lava was laid down in the year 1000. Apparently it is called Christian lava because after they converted to Christianity there was this massive eruption and they thought the old gods were angry. Iceland also has many kinds of sheep. This black sheep looked huge looming out of the mist but when we got closer it looked smaller. Ingimundur took these shots for me. My phone had run out of charge by this time. He took these of us in the stream. It was really close to nature as it had chunks of moss floating past. I thought we were crazy walking all that way in the cold and rain but when we got there there were lots of lunatics already there. And despite my laughing on the walk down, the trip back up the hill was not as bad as I expected. I suspect it was the warm bones from the hot stream.

Ingimundur dropped us back to our accommodation. We were cold, wet and tired and so incredibly happy.

The next day we had booked the Grand Golden Circle Tour. A much cheaper tour but one where we could sit on our tired butts all day. Or so we though. Our tour guide was called Aesigir and we booked with a different company.

This tour included waterfalls, geysirs and the national park, which has the continental drift space of 7000 metres in it. This was much more touristy than our glacier tour but that can’t be helped. You have to see these places. Really you do. This was an amazing waterfall, Faxi and next to it was a salmon ladder because the waterfall is too strong for the fish so they get help.

Then there was the Geysir and what looks like the bog of eternal stench. It did not smell bad at all. We got video of the geysir, Stokur, I think it’s called, going off. My daughter was taken by surprise as she wasn’t expecting it. Then it went off with three blows, then it sort of just gurgled a bit why we waited to film in and then I got film of a double whammy.


Then there was Gullfoss, the most famous waterfall, the Kerid crater and the National park that contains the continental drift. Part of Iceland is part of Europe and the other is on the Atlantic plate and you can see this. There is also a huge lake there.


And lastly, I wanted to say that Iceland is a must visit place. If you are in the north you should come see it. The culture is amazing too, being so isolated and I think the efforts to maintain the language and culture totally worthwhile. I hope in sharing this amazing country that it doesn’t change it. Here you can be close to nature, take some risks in seeing them, and be up close. The Fire and Ice Tour took us to some unspoiled places and the guide was very careful that even our footsteps did not disturb anything, particularly plants as they take a long time to grow.

Lastly a few shots of Reykjavik, taken on our last day. There is some amazing graffiti/wall art so we took a few shots.

I would love to come back and do the hiking/tramping tour to the centre. That whole area shuts down for winter. They close the roads in a couple of weeks and they don’t open until June. Next time I want to explore more widely to the Westfjords as well. Thank you Iceland!

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I’m writing this now while it is still fresh. It’s amazing what disappears from the memory when you are doing a lot of travel and sightseeing. I just finished my previous post and had completely forgot about Qibao, which was odd because it was interesting. Lucky there were photos to remind me to talk about it. It’s where Taamo tried to teach me to eat dumplings and I failed to learn. Apparently you bite the edge and suck out the juice, otherwise it squirts all over you. Guess who was grotty the whole time with stains down their front? Me! One thing I’ve noted here in China is that you don’t go hungry. Everywhere you go there is some kind of food for sale. Noodles, dumplings, all sorts.

Taamo took me for a walk locally and we had some street food for breakfast. Some vegetable rice buns, which look Pork dumplings at home but are filled with green vegetable and mushrooms. Then Taamo bought this pancake thing, with egg a few bits of onion, bbq sauce, chili and some crispy thing. It’s rolled up and you munch on it while you walk. It was tasty! We checked out the local English bookstore, where I bought a learn to speak Mandarin textbook as you do. One day she says! One day!

We found an out of the way place called, Books in Space. It was off the main drag and part of a house, sort of like a terrace house really. It was a cafe that had second hand books for sale for 10 RMB (about $2) and really good coffee. There was French music playing and it had a nice vibe. Very Western shabby chic I guess.

We also visited a new bakery called Lost Bakery and it had stuff in there to die for and boy I’d get fat if I could find my way back. So I’m staying away. The coffee was good and my apple tart was too.


Anyway, the tour. So Taamo gave me a few to choose from. I chose something that didn’t sound to strenuous. We went south to the Nanxi River Area. We went with Ok Deals tourist group. The group was smallish, around 30, laid back, but not slack. That meant we went where we were supposed to go when we were supposed to go but the itinerary was not excessive. Taamo reckons we went almost halfway to Taiwan. I guess he is right. (map Wikipedia commons.)

Image result for map Nanxi River

So bus and group were a okay! Six hour trip on the bus with two hourly stops. I was introduced to toilets in a big way. Squat toilets, bring your own loo paper and don’t flush it. Used loo paper goes in bins. Some of them don’t smell too good either. But livable.

We left at 7.05 am, not bad for a 7.00am start. Great scenery on the way. A long bridge etc. Mountains. Terraced rice fields, gardens everywhere. I saw sweet potato growing, taro, eggplant, green vegetables, potatoes and corn. Also persimmon trees with persimmons everywhere (Japanese kind I believe). Lunch was at 2.00pm but we stopped to visit an ancient village. This one the home of the head of the Chen clan.




Taamo took this one of a goat herder returning.


This is my shot using the panoramic function.


This is a close up of the roof tiles that I found interesting.


The food was very local. Lots of vegetables grown locally I guess. Some weird stuff too, but I tried most of it. I liked the tomato omelette, which turned up in most places. I’m thinking tomatoes grow locally too. Some thin slices of potato, gourd (winter melon?), fresh whole fish (I couldn’t eat that), rice cake etc.

The hotel where we stayed was out of the village proper. We had to be barged across by rope pulled by hand.


A few shots of the hotel. The rooms looked nice. The power was off. Some kind of trouble. The bathroom fitting leaked and the cleaning wasn’t quite the thing. Food was plentiful.




On the second day we went to a waterfall and mountain walk. Too many stairs and it was so hot. It also rained a bit.



On the barge.


The Dragon Waterfall.


Inside the waterfall cave. This had been extended by man. Quite extensive with temples inside etc.

Inside this part of the cave people could hire traditional costumes and take photos.


We walked up the mountain and found the source of the waterfall, and the former source of the waterfall.


Behind the dam wall




We sat under these rocks. We thought they might be Basalt.


At night there was a bonfire party. I didn’t hang for that but I did get to see some fireflies. Second night it was raining so they had a room party in the restaurant. The drinking, dancing etc went on till two am.

After the waterfall and lunch, we went bamboo rafting. It was wonderful. The rapids weren’t really rapids but you did feel the rocks bumping underneath. We had a very cool pilot/captain. Photo courtesy of Tour Guide Alice. It was so tranquil.


Before we left the area we went for the most amazing walk. These photos don’t do it justice. You lose the height impressions.

This is the view of the mountain/rock from the village. We walked to the river walk.







The goats near the bridge. This bridge was sealed off. My favourite parts? The bamboo rafting and the river walk, which was mind blowingly beautiful.

And finally I saw this at the hotel. A native, traditional raincoat?


That’s it for now. I’m having a home day and it’s wonderful. My sore legs can recuperate.

Waving from Shanghai.






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