The Desi Nomads

Iceland: Day 2: Reykjavik to Vik via the Golden Circle

We started reasonably early this day with the agenda of covering the “Golden circle” of Iceland and reaching Skogar by night.  While the Golden circle can be done with a rental car, like we did, there are several organized tours that will take you to the stops, with commentary, if you don’t feel like driving.
As we drove out of Reykjavik, the landscape started getting really beautiful.  Anyone who says you have to get out of Reykjavik to experience Iceland couldn’t be more right.

On our way to the first stop Thingvellir national park, we spotted these weird stone assemblies.  It seemed to spread on for miles and miles.  A board claimed they were originally made my mailmen, but visitors have been adding to it since.  You can also see a crater in a huge lake in the background.

After about an hour or more of driving, we reached the National park.  It is close enough to Reykjavik that if you have only one day, you should do the golden circle.  The park itself was pretty and had some short walks and longer trails.  We did one trail that essentially starts from the visitors center, and takes you along a ridge with some nice views of the valley below.  The trail was really easy, paved, and around 20-30 mins.  It even had a short waterfall, and a river.

My husband walking along the trail.  There are actually a lot of people at this park, since it is so close to Reykjavik, and there are many organized tours.  I waited a long time to snap this relatively empty photo.  

The next stop on the golden circle route was Geysir.  Geysir is the name of the stop, but the photo is of the more frequently erupting geyser called Strokkur.  There is a short trail that goes around various geothermal exhibits at the site, including the geysers.  If you haven’t seem geothermal activity before, the site is pretty cool. There are various colored pools, bubbling pools (literally boiling water), steam vents, bubbling mud, and sulphur vapors at this site.  Truly volcanic in nature.  There were some streams pretty close to the trail, and I was tempted to touch them.  But there are warning saying the water is close to 110 degrees Celcius, which made me keep my hands (and feet) in check.

Several pools of hot or boiling water

After I failed to get the photo several times, Sri was able to make the perfect capture!

The Strokkur hot spring was the most popular, blasting up every couple of minutes

The last stop on the circle route is the Gulfoss waterfall.  This is a pretty massive waterfall that you get to see from up close (smaller than Niagra though).  There is a steep path that takes you to different viewpoints of the waterfall.  When we traveled more into the interior, we saw more impressive waterfalls.  But, as the first “introduction” waterfall to Iceland, this was pretty neat.

It was nice to be able to walk up very close to the falls (which is not something you would get to do in the states).

The falls are so powerful that a huge mist rises out of it.  Unlike Niagara, there are no touristy boats here that will take you to the base of the falls.  In fact, Iceland itself is pretty non-touristy when compared to a lot of places in the US.  But, it feels like it is not going to stay that way for long.

After completing the trifecta of the golden circle, we headed towards the town of Skogar, where we had our hotel reservation.  On the way, we stopped at the Kerid crater.  I had seen a picture of it online and thought it looked really cool.  We had to pay an entrance fee to hike up to the crater.  The hike was short, and once we reached the edge, it was almost anticlimactic.  Compared to the other sights we’d seen, this looked really…blah.  Given that most of the awesome sights in Iceland are free, I’d skip this one.

We had one last stop before Skogar – Seljalandsfoss.  This is a tall waterfall that you can see from the highway.  There were many other small waterfalls that you could see from this vantage, but this was the largest of them all.  This is around where you start realizing how
gorgeous Iceland is!

This is also one of the few waterfalls that you can walk behind!  There is a short yet steep hiking trail that takes you the back of the falls. Be prepared to get wet!  The walk was also slippery, so make sure to wear good shoes.  In general, it seemed to be a good idea to be wearing a
rain jacket at all times.

We headed to our hostel in Skogar for the night, after this waterfall visit.  The Hostel Skogar, was in fact right next to another gigantic falls – Skogafoss!  The rooms were clean and nominal cost, and the best thing was the location.

Check here to see if Hostel Skogar has rooms for your dates!

* The hotel links in my site are affiliate links. I get a (very) small commission when you book a hotel through my link, at no additional cost to you. Think of it as a way to support my blog!*

Tomorrow, we head along the south coast of Iceland!

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