We made reservations with Mountain taxi to take us on the Golden Circle tour. Our guide picked us up in a monster black van that has plenty of room for us and the four other people on the tour. Designed to crawl up snow covered mountains and go down muddy roads, it was a fun ride as the weather alternated between snow and rain.
This tour is one of the best day trips in Iceland, for good reason. Geysers, Waterfalls, a glacier and the Þingvellir National Park encompass this day long tour. The park is a Unesco World Heritage site.
Þingvellir National Park is also the location where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. Iceland is the only inhabited country in the world where tectonic plates and ocean ridge are visible on land.
Around 930 AD, leaders from all over the country met in Þingvellir and formed the Alþingi. The Alþingi is the oldest parliament in the world that is still in existence. All free men were able to attend and discuss the issues and concerns and dispense justice. The annual meeting became a social event each year where farmers brought their families as well as storytellers, travelers, traders and craftsmen. In the center of the gathering, there was a large rocky outcrop, called Law Rock, where the Law speaker would preside over the meeting and announce the decisions, laws, and punishments to the crowd. Standing quietly on a cold March day imagining what this must have been like, it is easy to feel the strength and power that this event created for hundreds of years.
The geothermal and volcanic activity in Iceland is due to the plates pulling apart. The Laugarvatn Lake is heated by the geothermal waters and nearby is the Great Geysir Hot Springs. A series of large and small geysers, Strokkur is the largest one that shoots water up to nearly 100 feet in the air several times per minute.
Leaving the hot springs, we were heading to the Langjökull Glacier. The weather, ever-changing, went from a snowstorm to a blizzard in a matter of minutes and thwarted our trip. So sad!
Moving on to our next stop is Iceland’s most visited waterfall, Gullfoss. The waterfall is fed by melting glacier waters which pour over volcanic rock into a basalt canyon that is 230 feet deep.
In the winter, covered in snow and ice, the pictures don’t do Gullfoss justice. The frozen blue tinted water rumbles over the rocks and creates beautiful natural ice sculptures. Even in winter, the Gullfoss is stunningly beautiful.
After a lovely day visiting historical Þingvellir National Park and the splendid geysir’s and waterfall, we head back to Reykjavik for a wonderful dinner, a hot geothermal shower in our apartment and get ready for another action-packed day.