Iceland – Golden Circle, Geysir and little horses

On our 4th and final day in Iceland we’d booked the Golden Circle tour again with GeoIceland. The tour is around 7-8 hours and includes Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir hot springs,  Hveragerdir earthquake town, and the waterfall Faxi. Like the previous tour with GeoIceland we were picked up in a small comfortable minibus with a really friendly group of people. As I mentioned previously if you’re not going to drive yourself around Iceland then we felt it was much nicer to be part of smaller groups.

Hveragerdi platesThe first stop was at a small roadside exhibit in Hveragerdi, it’s known as the earth quake town in tourist circles. The surrounding area is geothermally active and the area experiences frequent small earth quakes, the largest being in 2008 which was measured over 6! They have lots of information on the 2008 earth quake along with a small earth quake simulator which costs a couple of pounds and is actually a little bit scary! They also have a coffee shop, and of course souvenir shops. The image on the left is a cut away in of the floor of the exhibit showing the North American and Eurasian plates. Can you see the lava glowing at the base?? Now I wasn’t sure if this was simulated or if this was actual lava, I didn’t want to ask at the time in case that was a stupid question but now I wish I did as I’d like to know. If anyone does know please leave a comment.

Our next stop was to the Faxi waterfall which is part of the Tungufljót river.

Faxi (or Vatnsleysufoss)

This waterfall and river is really popular with beginner white water kayakers apparently.

Faxi (or Vatnsleysufoss) waterfallFaxi (or Vatnsleysufoss) waterfallFaxi (or Vatnsleysufoss) waterfall

This photo of us could have been improved if we were in focus, oops but I’m not complaining though honest. I was using a Fuji X100 with early firmware at the time so it didn’t have an auto mode with face detection to switch on when handing it to over to people.

We stopped off to say halló (Icelandic for hello) to the Icelandic horses. They are a tough, and very long lived breed. I know practically nothing about horse breeds, but Icelandic horses apparently have an extra two gaits known as tölt and skeið (I had to Google the spelling for those extra gaits).

Icelandic Horses

Next stop… Gullfoss.

Gullfoss Panoramic

Above is a panoramic I stitched together from multiple shots, hence the funny shape. It’s hard to portray how huge an area this is but you can get an idea by looking at the tiny people standing up to the top left of the image. Gullfoss is a really popular tourist stop, if you visit when it has been snowing be careful on the paths and wooden trails leading from the parking areas as they can get trampled to a lovely slippery ‘landing on your bum and looking really silly’ shine. It’s hard to make falling over look like you meant to do it isn’t it?

Gullfoss MonoGullfoss

There’s a cool 360 degrees on-line view on the official Gullfoss website here. Next we headed to Geysir hot springs ( I think the area used to be known as Hverasandar).

Hverasandar

The Strokkur spring is currently the most active and was going off every 10 minutes or so when we visited.

It’s really hard to get a decent photo of the Strokkur spring spouting, the area behind the spring is the sky which was entirely white when we visited which gives little contrast to the white water/steam itself. Also while it’s an active geyser it goes off a bit randomly and quite quickly without any obvious warning so you have to stand with your finger on your shutter button for minutes at a time.

Strokkur spouting

Above is my attempt, the water\steam reaches up to 40m on occasion, but is normally 20-30 m high. Below is Leigh’s video of this, probably a more effective example eh?

The area around Strokkur shown below has funky colours which are caused by the bacteria the live in the water. Yup these hardy little bacteria can live in water up to 120 °C.

S0050490Strokkur bacteria

The former largest geyser in this area known imaginatively as the Great Geysir hasn’t been naturally active since  1916. There’s also a little one called Litli-Geysir meaning… yup you guessed it Little Geysir.

And here’s a rock that looks like a face in the car park.

Rock with a face

Hopefully see you in part 2 of our Golden Circle tour.

 

 

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2 comments

  1. […] Continuing our fourth day in Iceland, we where still on the Golden Circle tour with GeoIceland and now heading to Thingvellir National park (or Þingvellir). Thingvellir is a really important place for Icelandic people, Althing (the Icelandic parliament) was founded here in 930 and the parliament met here all the way up until 1798. Icelandic people  journeyed (sometimes very tough journeys) annually to this area to settle disputes and set new laws. The day we travelled to Thingvellir there was thick snow falling covering the entire landscape in a thick white crispy carpet. […]

  2. How fantastic! I’m incredibly excited to go next week! You did really well to get such a great photo of Strokkur!

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