Just a few days ago, I did the Golden Circle Tour and I feel like I have seen a bit of everything Iceland has to offer. Therefore, I would highly recommend this tour, if you only have one or two days to explore Iceland. If you are interested, here you can find more information about my own experience including some of my pictures.
Biggest Cloud Producer in Iceland
We first stopped at Hellisheidavirkjun, a new geothermal power plant. Here we had our own tour guide who explained the development of geothermal energy in Iceland and how the processes work. Afterwards we shortly explored the interactive exhibition. With help of simple and pictorial representations it was even understandable for a person like me, without any previous knowledge. As geothermal energy plays a significant role for people living in Iceland, it was important to me to receive some more information about it.
My first Volcanic Crater Lake
The crater lake is called Kerid, which means pool and the crater actually looks like a big pool filled with clear blue water. Our tour guide explained, that the crater used to be a cone volcano, which erupted and emptied its magma reserve. Afterwards, the cone collapsed into the empty magma chamber and created the crater lake. The crater is surrounded by different shaped red and green moss covering volcanic rocks. We walked around the crater on top of the hill but it is also possible to go down directly to the lake.
Before we reached the geyser area, we passed the river Tungufljot at its waterfall with the name “Faxi.” It was only a short stop but worth it. The waterfall is rather small but together with the surrounded scenery a wonderful place to visit, maybe to have a picnic and to relax while listening to the sound of the waterfall.
The Geysir geothermal area is incredible! Steam is coming out of the ground everywhere and you can smell the sulphur. While walking along the path and checking out the hot springs with their boiling water just in front of you, I suddenly heard an eruption of water just 100 meters further up the path. That was Strokkur, the geyser that spouts hot water 60-100 feet high every few minutes. It is thrilling to wait for the moment of the next eruption and to try to take a good picture of it. Besides that, it was just fascinating to walk around in this steaming area as I have never done and seen anything like this before!
What a Sound!
My personal highlight of the Golden Circle Tour was exploring the Gullfoss Waterfall, also called the golden waterfall. The massive amount of water flowing down the waterfall, is about 800 years old melted ice, coming from Iceland’s second biggest glacier Langjökull. According to our tour guide, the water plummets down about 30 m in two stages into a 70 meters’ deep canyon. When following the path along the waterfall, you reach a point where you can look down and along the canyon. Here you can see the tons of water plummeting into the canyon and how the river continues flowing between the canyon. This spot is incredible! You get wet from the mist and can listen to the dark sound of the water. Definitely the most spectacular waterfall I have seen so far.
Baking with Geothermal Heat
Our second last stop was in Laugarvatn. Under the surface of the little town contain geothermal springs. One of them, is connected to the lake Vìgdalaug which was consecrated by Norwegian priests when the Icelandic nation became Christian. Besides that, they are using the geothermal heat to bake rye bread. We just arrived when two girls came to get two baking pots. That was cool to see and they explained to us, how it works and that it takes about 24 hours until its completely baked. I would have loved to try the fresh baked bread!!!
My second highlight of the tour was the Thingvellir National Park where the Eurasian and American tectonic plates meet. They drift apart from each other with about 2 cm per year. We walked along the edge of the American tectonic plate which was an incredible feeling. It is like a rocky wall coming out of the ground. A view point on top of the path gives a wonderful overview of the surrounding.
Our tour guide also explained the historical importance of this place, as the world’s oldest existing parliament was founded here, in the 10th century. The sun was setting during this time and lighted up the scenery in very warm colours. The perfect end of a day full of new impressions, exciting moments and interesting information. A tour I would definitely do again!