Finally, the day arrived for our tour of some of Iceland’s truly fascinating natural wonders. There are many, many more, but these are a fairly easy day trip from Reykjavik. It all starts with a bus………………….
Even with the I-phone, you’re still able to catch some cool shots along the way.
Interesting thing about Icelandic horses:
- They are decendants from the horses brought to the island in the 800s when it was settled.
- No other horses can be brought onto the island.
- If an Icelandic horse is taken off the island, it cannot come back.
Our first stop on the Golden Circle is Pingvellir, dear to all Icelanders for both it’s history and drama.
Drama because the slow separation of the North American and Eurasian tetonic plates are being slowly torn apart as seen below. The lake itself sits in the largest fissure of all.
History because during the age of Settlement, it was here chieftains from all over Iceland gathered annually to deal with business.
We started at the overlook, then walked downwards between this fissure to where our transportation awaits.
A boardwalk makes this doable. I guess you could say you ‘touch’ two continents at one time – almost. The left side of the photo is America, to the right is Europe.
The Oxara´ river empties into the lake.
We now travel over the Eurasian tetonic plate to our second stop – Geysir.
However not before we came upon some free-ranging sheep – mama & her lambs alongside the road. In the summer, farmers let their sheep go up into the mountains where they feed on moss, lichens and Icelandic thyme……….one reason the meat is so tasty.
Interesting things about Icelandic sheep:
- They are descendants from the original sheep from the 800s.
- The closest,, similar breed comes from Scandenavia.
- No other sheep is allowed on the island and if removed, cannot be brought back into the country.
We continued onward to the site of Geysir.
This geothermal field surrounding Geysir lacks boardwalks and other maintenance you might expect at this popular site.
The land has parcels owned by the government and parcels by private landowners. Bitter disputes have stalled improvements or changes.
While tempting – especially when its chilly outside – the 6th bullet point above states do not touch the water. A few extra 2″ x 2″ signs are posted for additional warnings.
The geyser we are seeing is called Strokkur.
The lucky thing for us is that it erupts fairly consistently, every 9-13 minutes.
Not sure if you can see my video, but here goes.
Next stop is something I’ve been waiting for since we planned the trip – Gullfoss.
Our bus drops us off at the upper parking lot (left) and an hour later we meet it down below.
The view from the upper overlook is great…………..
……………….but not as impressive as the shots from below. We were extremely lucky that the path had opened a few days earlier when it could safely be traversed.
The waterfall sits on the glacial Hvita river, which drains Iceland’s interior. It has two stages: rocky upper cascade with a drop of approx. 35 feet and a lower fall where the water drops 70 feet straight down into a narrow gorge.
Naturally, we (read I) had to go where others had (safely) gone for more waterfall shots.
Eric didn’t make the extra trek upward for my selfie.
One of the ladies on our tour took this shot for us. She was from Toronto on a solo trip and let me take her photo so her kids would believe she did it.
At one point there was talk of damming this river (ruining the falls) for hydro-electricity and this young lady thwarted it. A monument has been erected in her honor.
I took many more photos and truly had a hard time only selecting these 7-ish photos for the blog. I have to leave you with a final shot of the falls.
Oh yes, and the name Gullfoss………
The last thing on the itinerary is a visit to a thermal springs.
Claiming to be the ‘”oldest swimming pool in Iceland” (from 1891) it is a big, rustic pool, surrounded by a boardwalk passing by steaming crevasses.
There are some important ‘pool rules’ and etiquette before entering. Shoes are taken off before entering the separate changing rooms and stored. Lockers are provided for your clothes. Grab your suit and towel, place in nearby cubbie before showering. Yes, this means showering naked, with the same sex. Water and soap are required (sanitary issue) before entering the thermal pool. Now, you can put on your swimsuit.
LOVED it! Again, LOVED it! The heat was great, especially after I showered and walked outside in the cold, chilly and somewhat windy weather………..wet. Eric, didn’t love the heat quite so much. He kept wandering around the pool, finding the water that was not quite as hot. Here’s the reason it was so hot.
Yep, that’s the reason there were ribbons of hot water and ribbons of hotter water.
That was the end of our day-long tour with Arctic Adventures.
Hang on, we’re not done yet. There’s more to come.