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The Golden Circle Tour

One can’t really spend much time in Southern Iceland (near Reykjavik) without doing the Golden Circle Tour. It would be like going to New York City and skipping the Empire State Building. So today I went for a drive from Reykjavik through Thingvellir until we got to Gullfoss Waterfall, the first stop. Gullfoss means “golden falls” and I suspect the name comes from the way light plays in the mists above Europe’s largest waterfall.

The volume of water is truly awesome, in the literal sense, and one can’t watch the pounding rush of the Hvita’s glacial waters and not feel something special for Iceland’s landscape. Should you go, make sure you take the extra 40-minutes needed to hike out to the edge of the falls, where you can see people in this picture. It’s a simple hike and SO worth the trip.

From Gullfoss, we left the comfort of the highway for the fun and thrill of some off-road driving. In Iceland, they call these vehicles “Super Jeeps” but they’re really Super Land Rovers that are ultra-modified to drive on dirt, snow and lava — and through water. Again, if you ever get the chance, it can be a thrilling way to travel. My favorite part was crashing through the door-high riverbeds.


The next destination was the geothermally-active valley of Haukadalur. The landscape looks very much like Yellowstone National Park - hot pools of bubbling, geothermal water pockmark the landscape and there’s the definite smell of sulfur in the air. The two main attractions are Geysir and Strokkur. Geysir is where the English word geyser comes from—this is the namesake of all erupting springs. The Icelandic word geysir comes from the Old Norse “geysa” which means to gush. Truth is, Geysir herself doesn’t do much gushing these days, but Strokkur delivers a spectacular explosion of geothermal water every 5-10 minutes.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised at how suddenly it erupted and how high the water column reached. It’s similar to Old Faithful, only more frequent and not nearly as crowded. Definitely a thumbs up.


After a morning of looking at glacial and geothermal water, it was time to get closer to the Hvita river. In the afternoon, I went whitewater rafting, but that’s for another post.

Posted by ExplorerJosh on 06/25 at 01:59 PM

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