Iceland is green and Greenland is 80% ice- an important distinction before we dive into it! The most badass and outcast Vikings settled here around the 10th century. Perhaps for a reason, as this land abundant of renewable energy (the island is volcanically active) is fairly isolated and there is plenty of space to get up to all sorts of mischief.
I always measure the quality of my trips by asking myself the question- “Would I visit again?” And in the case of Iceland the answer is a firm positive “yes”. So without any further ado, let’s get in to the details of my first visit to the Golden Circle of Iceland, which is a popular touristic route that covers around 300kms from Reykjavik into the southern part of the country and back to the capital.
Þingvellir National Park
The first stop as part of the route is the Þingvellir National Park. The name of the park actual stands for “Parliament Plains” and is the place where the first parliament of the country was established somewhere around 930AD. Many important events and decisions where taken at the park and the place is considered not only a national symbol, but it is as highly esteemed as a shrine.
Driving in Iceland is a real pleasure as there is very little traffic and the scenery is outer-worldly. Moving on from the park we headed to Haukadalur, which is perfect place to see a geyser for the first time in case you haven’t seen one yet. In fact the word we use today apparently originates from this very same place.
The Strokkur geyser erupts around every 8 minutes and the water burst goes as high as 10 meters. Beware as the smell might not be to everyone’s taste as it resembles (with all due respect) that of a luxury fart/rotten eggs. This of course is a joke as sulphur is present in hot mineral springs, which results in the distinctive smell.
Next on the list was the Gullfoss waterfall and I must say that it indeed is a really impressive place to see. Here you can feel the immense power of the Hvítá river as the water rushes down an overall height of around 64 meters (210 feet) and through what resembles a “three-step staircase”, with the last been the steepest. The earlier you visit the site the better as by the late afternoon the places was fairly overcrowded.
The Kerið volcanic Crater Lake was the last site we visited before heading back to Reykjavik. There is a nominal entrance fee to visit the place which is around 400 ISK ($3, 75/£3, 00), and is definitely worth it. It formed 3,000 years ago, which is considered fairly new as compared to other sites formed as a result of volcanic activity. We did a full circle of it and it was a good way to end our tour.
The sites of the Golden Circle are impressive, but there is much more to Iceland. Shortly, there will be more stories to come, so stay tuned!