Glaciers/ Geysers/ Waterfalls, Reykjavík Region
Technically not Reykjavik (and according to the locals not very Icelandic anymore either), but we made day trip around the Golden Circle and visited the Geysír and Þingvellir Park. Some roads were closed and/or in a terrible state so we didn't make it to the Gullfoss waterfall (pic) in the end, but it was great fun nonetheless! See the travelogues for all the snowy pictures.
A magnificent scene, this amazingly picturesque place is truly wonderful. You could almost feel the force of the water rushing over the edge of the cliff just from the spray from spray and thunderous sound hitting us. This is a must when visiting Reykjavik.
We travelled two hours or so out of Reykjavik to Geysir, the name of the place belies it's treasure.
Featuring a show of bubbling natural mineral hot pots which spurted their contents, 50/60 ft into the air every 4 to 7 mins, just as if from a whales blow hole. Following this burst of energy comes a slow drift of steam across the atmosphere. These release valves of the Earth have the stench of sulphur and are arranged with colours so striking they are mesmarizing.
Apart from the geysers, there is a shop with a small geological explanation area, gifts, food and a picture window where you can sit and view the geysers.
GEYSIR & STROKKUR. Another must on the Golden Circle Route.
Geysir - meaning 'Gusher' was formed in the 13th century but erupted at irregular intervals since an earthquake in 2000.
Strokkur is just adjacent to Geysir & erupts at regular interval of 5-10 minutes.
About an hour's drive away from Reykjavik is Gullfoss (pronounced Gutl-foss). This majestic waterfall is quite humbling. The power that runs through it's falls really make you realize how powerless we are compared to nature. The beauty of the canyon it runs through, and the falls themselves, are hard to match in our world. It's a popular tourist site with a great history. An Icelandic woman fought to keep Gullfoss from being turned into a hydroelectric powerplant. She won her battle and thanks to her, we can still enjoy this marvel of nature. You can visit this on the same day you visit Þingvellir and Geysir. Please see my Travelogue for more pictures
Geysir park is home to several Geysers. Geysir, the largest is of greatest fame. All of the geysers in the world get there name from Geysir. It no longer erupts that often, and at times, manmade eruptions are done using soap. Strokkur, a smaller geyser just a stone's throw from Geysir never fails to impress. It erupts every 10-15 minutes and shoots up about 20 meters. The picture shows Strokkur in all it's splendor. You can include Geysir park on your day trip of Þingvellir, and Gullfoss. Please see my travelogue for more pictures.
Gullfoss is one of those miracles in Iceland and it is Europe's most powerfull waterfall. You can't explain that with words or pics, it is so must to see. You can feel the power of water and air, you see strong rockys and the land made of stone.
Gullfoss was the second last stop on our superb Golden Circle tour. The waterfall is apparently Europe's most powerful falls and is fed by waters from the Langjokull glacier. Looking down on the falls it is astounding to think that this beautiful sight was almost lost to us when plans to build a hydro-electric plant very nearlly went ahead. We were at the falls in early March and it was VERY cold walking around as the spray from the falls turns to ice and the wind whips it up and into your face. The white around the falls in the photo is ice and not snow and it just adds to the beauty of the place. It is a wonderful sight and we were lucky enough to see a rainbow despite it being so cold.
This is a very special location for Kerry and I as it was down at the top of the falls that I propsed to her and luckly for her she said yes, I threatened to push her into the rushing water unless she say common sense and said yes.
The falls are one sight that you have to see if you come out to Iceland!!!
Gullfoss waterfall is a must visit and even in the winter when there's a lot of ice and snow it's still spectacular. The waterfall tumbles 32m down into a gorge, throwing up an immense spray which then freezes on the side of the canyon. I would recommend wearing some walking boots because it can be a bit icey on the walk up to the viewing point - I wore some cozy snow boots and was very thankful for them. There's a cafe there too where you can have welcome bowl of Icelandic soup to warm up.
You can sleep through the first three stops of the tour: a greenhouse, a volcanic crater and a 1950s church. The next three stops are pretty cool: the waterfall, the geysir, and the north american plate. The tour is very long: 8:30 to 5:30. Most of the time spent in the bus. It is an OK tour.
At GULLFOSS, the waters originate on the Langjokull glacier & drops a total of 32 m (104 ft) in 2 stages into the Gullfossgljufur Gorge. On a sunny day, you can see a huge rainbow across the entire waterfalls & it's really an incredible sight!
One of the most beautiful waterfall I've come across. In order to see its magnificence, click on the photo to see the bigger picture. Of course, the only way one could feel the absolute beauty of it is to be there & see it with your own eyes!
I cannot believe that back in the 1920s these falls were nearly destroyed - that would have been criminal! They are raw and powerful, massive and mighty. There is a double cascade and the water drops 32m.
There is a visitor centre which served delicious and much needed hot chocolate after trudging back in a hail storm, frozen and wet! If this is one of your first stops in Iceland, you may think the prices in the shop/cafe here are extortionate... nope - these are normal Iceland prices! Get used to it!!!
Togther with Pingvellir and the geysers, Gullfoss makes up the Golden Circle. This means 2 things: 1) it is easy to get to from Reykjavik Reykjavik 2)In season (which is only really 3 months of the year) it is going to be rather busy. I stayed a long time at this waterfall - I got here with my own car and would have hated to have been on a tour and moved along before I was ready.
Iceland is famous for its geysers and the term geyser was first coined in Iceland, after the Great Geysir. As a bit of a research before my trip to Iceland I found out that Geysers are found in active volcanic areas or land that is prone to earthquakes. The steam that shoots out fo the ground is the result of the process whereby surface water seeps deep underground and collects in caverns where it is subsequently heated by the surrounding 200°C volcanic rock this eventually converst the water to stream and it forces its way back out through holes in the ground.
The Great Geysir doesn't erupt that frequently, about every 8 to 10 hours and in fact it has ceased to erupt back in the early 1900s and it was only after a earthquake in 2000 that the geyser was 'reawakened'. At its prime it could erupt water to a height of 60m but nowadays it is more like 10m.
Luckily for us travellers who don't have 8 to 10 hours to spend sitting around waiting for an eruption there is the dependable Strokkur geyser right next to the Great Geysir. Strokkur erupts approximately every 8 minutes and sends an impressive column of water and steam about 20m in the air. It is great to watch, especially the bubble that forms right before an eruption.
The Geyser park has a numebr of other smaller geysers and steam vents that are worth seeing. Make sure you don't miss out on nature's little water and steam show when you are in Iceland.
There is a visitors complex on one side of the road which all looks very new and shiny with shops and all your tourists needs... I bypassed that and headed straight across the road to see the geysers!
It's all rather steamy and smokey and surreal as you meander along the pathways that wind around lots of little steamy holes full of boiling and bubbling water... and there is an excitement building... eventually you get to Strokkur - a large hole in the ground, roped of, the (downwind) ground utterly drenched around it and there is a bubbling activity below the ground... And you wait for something to happen. WHOOOSH up she shoots with no warning and with such gusto that oh! no! you were not quite ready for such a sudden splurge of energy and you are amazed by it.
Now, one tip to bear in mind, in case you need it spelling out as my children apprently really did... the reason one side of the geyser is soaked is because when it bursts upwards to the height of 15-30m and the wind blows against that water...if you stand there you ARE going to get drenched... which is not so fun in winter!!!!
If, like me, you were so unprepared for the sudden explosion... take heart... it happens very frequently - every 5-10 minutes! ....and then it is gone, back down into its hole.
The geysers are totally free to go to see... which is kind of awesome in its own right!
Geysir is part of the Golden Circle so is easily visited from Reykjavik and surely there is not a tour that will not lead you here. However, I like to do my own thing so I came here under my own steam (no pun intended!) and being on your own time and itinerary has always got to nicer, I think.
Now the part where I can sound clever! when geothermal water is trapped is gets super-heated. However, the water on the surface is cool. The two waters create steam and that steam has to escape and as it does it send the cooler water blasting upwards. Nature is rather funky!
For a bit of fun I would highly recommend going on a snowmobile on Iceland´s second largest glacier, Langjokull. Blazing across the white plains is quite an experience, especially seeing as I havd never driven a snowmobile before. It is very much like a motorbike and I was soon holding the accelerator down at maximum. Thank goodness we were given suits, gloves and helmets because it was unbelievably cold, even with the gloves on my hands were absolutely freezing. The barren landscape is breathtaking. At times I wanted to stop and take photos but flying around at high speeds made it impossible. I must admit that it is fairly expensive but then again how often do you get to roar around on a glacier???? It was an experience that will live on long in the memory of this beach- born, sun-loving South African.