Skogafoss is one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls, and one of the first places I had ever dreamt of visiting when I first started planning this trip. As it is free to camp just about anywhere in Iceland, we planned to camp the remaining 2 nights to avoid paying hefty hostel prices. And where better to camp than in front of Skogafoss?! If we ever make it, that is.
We checked out of our very nice but very expensive hostel with our bags on our backs, hopped on the only free thing we found in Iceland and made our way to the shopping centre to find a camping shop. I did some research before-hand and found the cheapest store we could hire a tent from. Only problem was, this shop was only one of 3 in Iceland, and this particular chain only sold tents. No hiring here. The 15kg backpacks were strapped on again and we found ourselves walking half an hour down the road to our next target, Everest Camping Equipment, recommended by the first store. Aaaaaaannd they didn’t rent tents either. Third camping shop? No guesses here. But this one actually rang a place up before we left to make sure they had a tent we could RENT and gave us a map and directions on how to get there. Of course we get lost and end up backtracking a few more kilometres before finally, 4 hours after leaving the hostel, hiring our first tent! Another 7kg was strapped onto my backpack as we left Reykjavik behind and made our way to the main terminal to catch the bus down to Skogar.
When your travelling, some days just never work out for you. Things go wrong, more things go wrong and just when you think the last thing could have gone wrong, something else goes wrong. Today, this was our day. After realising we had caught the bus going in the wrong direction and then taking another bus back in the right diretion, we hop off at the terminal and wait for the next bus to Skogar. After all our misfortunes so far, I didn’t think it was very fair that the terminal we were sitting in for hours waiting for our next bus happened to be the wrong terminal. And I don’t think it’s at all fair that the bus that could take us to the right terminal departed the stop across the road in-front of our eyes, 2 minutes after I realised our mistakes
From here on out I accepted the fact that today was not my day, but deep down I clinged to the hope that this was the end of it all. There were still 2 busses headed for Skogar, so if something else went wrong then we still had a backup. Fast forward an hour and we make it to the correct terminal. And this time it was actually correct. Hallelujah God is real! Something went right for once! I even messaged mum to celebrate!
Just kidding! The day wasn’t ready to stop playing with us just yet. We had 40 minutes to wait for the next bus, but it only took 5 to discover our next misfortune. Jessie left her day bag on the bus. Kiss goodbye to your passport, bank cards, identification, legal documents, iPad, camera and journals, Jessie, that bus isn’t coming back anytime soon.
Mjodd was the town we were in. The terminal was closed but busses still passed through. There was a solitary service station across the road, and this is where one very distraught and one frustrated backpacker ended up for 3 hours at 6pm. The staff offered their phones to call the bus company, the report was filed, insurance claim written, lost passport form filled out, bank accounts emptied and concerned parents called. At 9pm, the bus we were on pulled back into the station. Was I asking for too much if I hoped the bag was still on the bus? I sprinted over to the stop just as the driver emerged for his smoke break. Of course his English vocabulary extended to about 2 words, but somehow the word ‘bag’ meant something to him when I pointed at my back, pulled a concerned expression and pointed into the bus. He nodded his head, I looked into the bus, and there it was. The most precious sight I have seen in a long time.
It was 10:30pm. The bag was reunited with a very relieved Jessie, still intact and nothing taken from it. I was happy and I was crushed. The last bus to Skogar left 10 minutes ago. And just like that, the one place I had dreamed of seeing before I even left Australia was suddenly out of the picture. An impossible destination. So close yet so far. I bloody hate that term. It’s so true. Truth hurts.
Our next best option was to take the last bus that headed towards Skogar but stopped in Selfoss, a town about an hour and a half away. 50 precious dollars were spent on this bus and we arrived at 11:30pm. There was a campsite, yes. It was an ok town, yes. But it wasn’t Skogafoss. I have to be honest, I was really disappointed. And then I had a brainwave. Hitchhike! We were in the one country that was at the top of the list of easiest places to hitchhike. It was midnight, yes, but it was still light and cars still passed by. And they passed. And passed. And passed. But our thumbs were only pointing upwards for 10 minutes before an Icelandic man driving to a town only 5 minutes away from Skogafoss picked us up and drove us all the way to the falls.
Was this real? I can’t help thinking about all the misfortunes that this day brought us, yet there we were, in Iceland, hitchhiking at midnight with my dream destination ahead of us. The guy drove us all the way to the campsite at the waterfall. He told us about his work, filming a documentary about the effect of global warming on Icelands glaciers. We shared our travel stories, listened to music and stared at the beautiful landscapes surrounding us. And then we arrived. And there we were, standing in front of this waterfall. This freak of nature.
I was speechless, and I was overwhelmed.