May 17, 2012

Golden Circle Tour, Iceland May 2012

On the last day of our visit we took undoubtedly Iceland’s most popular day trip, the Golden Circle Tour which covers miles of vastly diverse landscapes, snowcapped mountains, glacial rivers and villages punctuated with must-see features along the way. 

With a storm blowing in from the interior, and talk of a blizzard catching us up further along the road, we stepped out onto our first feature, the volcanic crater Kerid and stared into its milky pool below before quickly jumping back into the van to sip from thermos flasks. 

Not much further along the road we came to the first waterfall, Faxafoss, a popular fishing spot with a wide sprawling vista and white waters prized for it’s salmon.

Gulfoss waterfalls is the most popular tourist site in Iceland, but on that day, with the wind beating down our coat collars and violently crashing water all around us we got to see the full force of Iceland’s dramatic landscape without feeling like one of the crowd.

While you can experience geothermic activity all around you in Iceland, the Geyser Centre is another popular stop on this tour. Every four minutes ‘Strokkur’ will put on a show for you, but Geyser itself is slowing down these days like it’s name might suggest. 

Þingvellir is the site of the first western democratic parliament, held yearly to bring together Viking clans from across the island to agree to common laws. Historians tell us it was a rawkus affair with an opportunity for bartering, revelry, music and storytelling, but also a time when criminals were brought to endure their gruesome punishments for the enjoyment of the baying crowds. Nowadays, the landscape is very tranquil and holds a mysterious atmospheric quality in part due to the ridges and deep clear water between the continental plates.

Looking back I feel the smaller moments of serendipitous discovery on route will be the most lasting, such as when our tour guide David pulled over to show us wild horses or when he spotted the beautiful, if slow-witted Oyster Catcher bird laying it’s mottled egg on the side of the road.

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