We booked our Golden Circle tour with Grayline and although both Lloyd and I would have preferred to have seen the sights alone, to our surprise we actually really enjoyed the trip!
The tour started really early; I think we were up at around 4am to get ready and the coach left the depot at around 6am so it was tough keeping my eyes open. I have a habit of falling asleep on any moving vehicle (I think it’s my own nifty way of fighting motion sickness) however I did keep my eyes open long enough to witness the most beautiful sunrise.
Since it was still pretty dark to visit the waterfalls, the guide had changed up the schedule to take us to the Geothermal Energy Exhibition based inside Hellisheiði Power Plant. It was actually very interesting to see the amazing work this relatively small country is doing to create sustainable green energy.
The area below had stunning views…sadly I can’t remember the name of it but I guess it couldn’t have been too far from Gullfoss.
Gullfoss Waterfall was pretty much completely frozen over!
It was bitterly cold and Lloyd fell on his bum going down the steps which gave me a laugh since he was so convinced that I would be the one who fell over on this trip!
If you’re heading here in winter then thermal clothing is an absolute must as well as a pair of shoes with good grip and a water resistant material (such as Gortex).
After warming our cockles in a cafe close to the waterfall we headed over to Stroker Geysir which is one of the most active and most popular geysers; at least in the south of Iceland. It erupts every 8-10 minutes so you’re guaranteed to witness it.
When it happens it’s the strangest thing. Even with a lot of people around, the area was very still while people waited expectantly for the eruption. You’re expecting there to be a loud blast but it’s actually very quiet considering the amount of water shooting up from under the ground.
Mid-Atlantic Ridge/Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park is a historical and enchanting place to explore. Originally the National Park was where an open air assembly would take place representing the whole of Iceland between 930 AD until 1798. Over the years the assembly was established to set laws within Iceland and remains to have symbolic meaning for the people of Iceland today.
Thingvellir is located in an active volcanic area and it is where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge runs through.
This is a mostly underwater mountain range running through the Atlantic Ocean and it separates the North American plate from the Eurasian Plate in the North Atlantic and the South American Plate from the African Plate in the South Atlantic. These plates are still moving apart (about 2.5cm every year!).
Most of the ridge is underwater however there are places where the ridge pops up out of the land – Thingvellir is one of those places.
A nice bit of Geography for you there!
The views throughout the day were incredible and we enjoyed every second, though by the end of the day we were exhausted and craving something warm!
This is a country that just keeps on giving.