Where fire meets ice, where the words ‘spectacular’ and ‘awesome’ don’t seem adequate, and where adventure and discovery transport you to another world, this is Iceland.
It might look small on the world map somewhere up there in the north Atlantic, but this volcanic island nation of 330,000 people is way cool and not only in degrees.
Kick start discovering in the capital, Reykjavik, by doing the Golden Circle tour as a self-drive or as a guided day tour. Extreme Iceland Tours Classic Minibus Tour of The Golden Circle is very well conducted and is a GRACIE recommendation. Here are just some of the highlights.
There’s just something about the first scenic stop – the Kerid volcanic crater lake, formed when the volcano’s cone collapsed into the magna chamber. The lake is bordered by coloured volcanic rock which looks stunning, even on an overcast day. Note the people walking around the rim and also down around the lake. It’s well worth the effort to do this.
From the crater to the first of the waterfalls known as Faxi. This is serious sight seeing. You’ll find yourself taking loads of photos to try and capture it’s full beauty. If you look closely to the left of this photo you will see the salmon ladder which has been constructed to provide up-river access for the salmon.
If that’s not enough to impress, then prepare for the spectacular Gullfoss Waterfall that comes next. You can get up close and personal here by taking the path to the ‘island’ viewing area but it can be wet and wild and a little slippery so solid footwear is a must. The power and might of this is very dramatic.
On next to the area of hot springs and geysers. The most famous geyser is Stokkur which spouts up to 100 feet every five minutes on average. Equally fascinating are the many hot springs and bubbling pools. It’s difficult to get the timing right to get a good photo 0f Stokkur
Litle Geyser is equally mesmerising and easier to photograph.
The tour rounds off with a visit to the National Park Thingvellir which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s here that the Eurasian and American tectonic plates meet, effectively meaning that one part is located in America while the other in Europe!
Fans of the series ‘Game of Thrones’ take note. This extraordinary gorge was used in the filming of the path to the Eyrie and Arya’s and Sandor Clegane’s journey.
You will also find the Oxararfoss waterfall which has a beauty all of it’s own.
One more thing to note about Thingvellir, it’s where the national parliament of Iceland was first established in 930 – one of the oldest existing in the world!
Stark wilderness, dramatic landscapes, contrasting scenery, Iceland is ten times what you think it is. This is only part of what awaits the visitor.