The day started with a grey sky, but by the time we arrived at the first stop of the Golden Circle was mostly sunny with only a little bit of clouds. The famous Golden Circle consists of three main attractions, Gullfoss, Greyser and Thingvellir National Park, and is described as a mini Iceland.
It was an easy drive with very clear signage along the way to the Gullfoss (route 1 then 30 then 35). Gullfoss was the last waterfall to see in our Iceland trip. We have already visited the five major waterfalls in Iceland. It is hard to decide which one is better. Indeed, they all have its own charm. One will never get bored watching the power of nature.
There are two levels of entry to Gullfoss. We arrived at the higher ground in 45 minutes from Hella. When we got closer to the waterfall, the wind was so strong that we were afraid that we could be blown away. It was almost impossible for anyone to inch further ahead. At times, we needed to hold tightly on the handrails along the walking path for balancing!
Our next stop was the Geyser, which was only 10 min drive from the Gullfoss. Many tourists were already there waiting for the geyser to explode. We saw several eruptions of boiling water in a short while. It was amazing. Although the eruption is smaller scale compared to those in Yellowstone or Rotorua in New Zealand, the Geyser in Iceland erupts frequently that you are almost guarantee to see the phenomenon during a short visit.
Our last stop today was the Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO listed heritage site. Remains in the area suggested it was an assembly ground since 984AD. There was also evidence of settlement around the time the assembly was established. Thingvellir is also a part of the North Atlantic rift system. The Almannagja fault is the junction where the European and North American tectonic plates meet. It is the only place in the world that people can stand so close to the junction of two tectonic plates diverging from one another. The landscaping in this area is constantly changing, layers of lava exposed to the surface and islands emerged from the lake due to earthquakes. In the visitor centre you can learn more from the very informative videos. There is also a café and toilet facilities.
We left the national park at 2.15pm and arrived at the international airport before 4pm, just on time to return our rental Ford Kuga. Amazingly, the car was in one piece with all four doors still securely attached despite the gale wind and the rough roads. We filled up for the last time the tank at a petrol station outside of Reykjavik on route 1. On the way to the airport leaving Reykjavik, there was only one petrol station before arriving at the airport. We have driven a total of 3600 km in the last 13 days. The petrol costed us nearly ISK60,000.
After this trip, we now wonder why people bother going to Canada to see the Rockies, to the Yellowstone National Park in the States to see geysers, to Hawaii to see lava fields and volcanoes, to Norway to see fjords, to Alaska to see glaciers…..while they can see everything in one country called Iceland! Come to Iceland, you will see all wonders.
At the international airport we bought a return bus ticket (ISK4500 per person) to take the Flybus to Reykjavik. The bus took us to its terminal in the city centre and we were transferred to a minibus to our hotel.
The hotel was fully booked and we were offered an apartment unit with pantry and a larger living area.
We had Vietnamese chicken noodle (ISK1140) for dinner followed by a steamed red fish (ISK1990) in another restaurant. The fish was fresh but it’s taste was nothing compared to the meal we took in Isafjordur. Prices in the city are a lot cheaper.
That ended the thirtieth day of our travel in Iceland. Our next stop is Greenland tomorrow.