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Come join me for a tour around the Golden circle, this adventure promises to be comfortable, intimate and inspiring.
We depart Reykjavík at 9 am and head straight to our first stop, Þingvellir. This is one of Iceland's three national parks and our only UNESCO world heritage site. The area is steeped in history it is where our parliament was established, where we got our independence from Denmark in 1944, and where the nation converted to Christianity overnight in the year 1000. It is also the best place in the world to see the rift valley between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
Our next stop is the Geysir geothermal area. This is a beautiful place with many hot springs and two erupting geysers. The one named Geysir itself is sporadic and unreliable, but the other, Strokkur, erupts every 5 to 10 minutes, blasting a column of water up to 30 m high.
Gullfoss is just a few kilometers down the road and is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. It is incredibly powerful, and an impressive 32 m high, over two dramatic drops. You will not be able to stop marveling over this breathtaking force of nature.
Golden Circle tour Þingvellir, Efstidalur, Friðheimar, Geysir, Strokkur, Gullfoss.
Gullfoss – The Iceland’s Most Popular Waterfall This awe-inspiring waterfall is located on the Hvitá River. However, it was once rented to produce energy and later sold to the Iceland Government. A young farmer threatened to jump on the waterfall if it was sold to produce energy. Due to his actions, the waterfall was preserved and a rock monument was built there to honor his heroic act, which you can admire as well. Now, this waterfall serves as a beautiful landmark for visiting tourists. Gullfoss is high on the radar of tourists to visit which makes it Iceland’s signature waterfalls. It is also part of the Golden Circle. While also being the most amazing waterfalls in Europe because of its unique water flow and dimension, it also seems to vanish inside the earth, until the land next to the waterfall. It is formed due to two huge plaques fractures that formed an 11, 21, and 32 meters fall. The waterfall is situated at a 110 km distance from Reykjavik from road 35. The journey consists of around 1 hour and 30 minutes in total. It is relatively easy to get to Gullfoss since many buses run daily from Reykjavik, and if you’re planning your own excursion then a 4 x 4 car is not required. The roads are mostly in good condition during summer, but care should be taken during winter. Recreational Activities: You can take a peaceful stroll on the wooden boardwalk from the waterfall. There are two viewpoints, from above and below. Watching the waterfall from above is an interesting perspective as it feels like the waterfall is vanishing underground. You can also walk down the wooden boardwalk to watch the waterfall from downwards. Both of these viewpoints are equally spectacular. However, it is advised to wear a rain jacket as the water might drench you, but it’s a risk you must be willing to take to experience the waterfall at its full bloom. Places to stay: There are many activities that you can part take to keep yourself invested in. Gullfoss has a beautiful hotel at a 5 minutes distance; you can rest there and later enjoy a warm cup of coffee at a nearby café. At night if you are in luck you can catch a glimpse of the majestic Northern Lights that are visible in the night sky. Golden Circle: As previously mentioned Gullfoss is a part of an interesting route called Golden Circle. Therefore, you can easily add a few more locations and detours to your itinerary. You can visit Thingvellir National Park, Haukadalur, and geyser geothermal zone in just one day. These places can fit perfectly in your schedule if you choose not to spend too much time in each place. Conclusion: Gullfoss is a true miracle in nature, the stream of water cascading over the rocky outcrops, and the vibrant flora surrounding it is a sight to behold. This place should be on your radar if you are ever visiting Iceland, as it is worth exploring and all the praise that it can garner.
Thingvellir National Park of Iceland There is no doubt that the natural beauty of Iceland is the backbone of its tourism sector. The vastly uninhabited land which is naturally unaffected by human activity is such a concept that attracts thousands of tourists every year. The unique location of Iceland acquires such an exclusive combination of latitude and climatic conditions that give rise to very rare landscapes that are hard to come by anywhere else in the world. This is why the government of Iceland took steps to preserve nature by setting up national parks throughout the country like the Vatnajokull National park in south Iceland and the Jokulsargljufur National park in the north. But without doubt the most spectacular of all of Iceland’s protected areas in the Thingvellir national park. ACCESSIBILITY This national park is part of the municipality of Blaskogabyggo, about 40 km northeast from the capital city of Reykjavik. It is hardly an hour’s drive away from the capital, and most of that travel is on the well-maintained ring road. Taking the Route 1 from Reykjavik, until you hit Route 36 in Mosfellsbaer, will take you directly to the national park. WHY IT’S GREAT! The park holds great nationalism values for Icelandic people as it is associated with Althing, the national parliament. This park sits in a rift valley where the North American and Eurasian plate border each other, its importance can be understood from the fact that it was declared a world heritage site in 2004. The following are a few attractions Thingvellir has to offer: ALMANNAGJA Almannagja lies on the eastern boundary of the American plate and the western boundary of the Eurasian plate. This fault is the surface expression of deeply rooted normal faults. DREKINGARHYLUR (The Drowning Pool) Drekingarhylur is more commonly called the drowning pool. Befittingly named, this pool was used by people of the 13th century to drown criminals as a form of execution, though drowning executions were banned throughout Iceland when reforms were made. Now, this pool is only used by tourists for swimming and photography purposes. OXARARFOSS WATERFALL Staying with our water theme, the Oxararfoss is undoubtedly the most magnificent waterfall of Thingvellir. Besides the grace of the Oxara River falling over the rocks, these places also have significant historical value. It is said that when the land was newly settled the settlers dug a hole in this river, frozen at that time, to put an ax in the place to claim the land. Oxi in Iceland means ax. FLOSAGJA AND NIKULASARGJA Both are one of the largest fault lines in Thingvellir, additionally, they are both filled with crystal clear glacial water up to 25 meters deep. Scuba diving in these trenches is very common and is often acclaimed as an awe-inspiring experience as one is literally swimming between two continents. THINVELLIR CHURCH This beautiful church is often the first point of the visit when tourists enter the part. The building’s off-white coloration magnifies its beauty in winter as it camouflages with both the sky and the ground. There is also the prime minister’s summer house next to the church which is also open to visit most of the year. Final Thought: This landmark is crawling with activities to keep you invested. From nature to human-made places, Iceland has the whole spectrum of wonderful places that should be on your radar and itinerary.
The Great Geysir If we were to tell u about a place where the ground from thousands of meters below has exceptionally high temperatures that build up so much pressure overtime that it forces boiling subterranean contents out from the earth more than a hundred feet into the air, you would probably try to keep as far away from it as possible. But in the Haukadalur valley of southwest Iceland, there is a giant water geyser that hundreds of people flock to watch every year in hopes to see it in action. HISTORY The geyser’s name is befittingly Geysir, it is also known as The Great Geysir. The English word geyser itself is derived from this very marvel as it was the first-ever water geyser known to the modern Europeans. The word Geysir itself was derived from the Old Norse verb geysa which meant “to gush”. Geologists predict the Giant Geysir probably formed about 10000 years ago. But written accounts of hot water geysers in Haukadalur date back to 1294. During the “Age of Enlightenment” during the 18th century, Europeans showed great interest in the unnatural phenomenon but could not conclude how the Geysir works, though its height reaching up to 170 meters was recorded. This is an exceptional height even for Geysir which has an average spouting height of about 45 to 54 meters. VISITING THE GEYSIR The Geysir is random enough to make its eruptions unpredictable. It can lay dormant for many years or be frequent enough to spout water about 8 to 9 times a day during some periods. Though its activity is somewhat related to ground activity and earthquakes. We are in luck as for the past 60 to 70 years the Geysir seems to be in its active episode, this is also attributed to the small earthquakes and tectonic activity in the area. Getting to Geysir is quite easy as it can be reached from Reykjavík through very frequent tour buses that visit the Golden Circle landmarks across Iceland. But driving there personally by car is also easy as a four-wheel drive is not compulsory, by following road 1 then road 35 or 36 then getting onto route 365 taking you through Thingvellir and Laugarvatn, it takes close to about an hour and a half to reach the valley of Haukadalur. The land where Geysir is located is actually privately owned and the ownership has changed a lot of hands, previously there was a large fence around the entire area and there was a visiting fee to be able to see the Geysir but now it has all been taken down and there is no fee. OTHER GEYSERS IN ICELAND Although not as magnificent as Geysir but there are many other smaller geysers like the Strokkur geyser that is predictable due to its fixed schedule of erupting. The Blesi, also known as “the flames”, is another geyser having two twin basins that are connected from below but one spews hot water while the other spews cold water. No matter where in Iceland you witness a water geyser, the experience will always be unique and awe-inspiring. The Bottom Line: This magnificent place is one of a kind, and the opportunity shouldn’t be missed when given the chance to visit it. You will have to visit the place in person to experience and unravel the mystery behind this unique geyser.
A FOOD EXPERIENCE The theme of Friðheimar cuisine is tomatoes, in many different forms. And that’s not surprising, as four different varieties of tomato are cultivated in the greenhouses where lunch is served among the plants. A rare food experience. Come and enjoy it! At Friðheimar, we grow tomatoes all year round, despite Iceland’s long, dark winters, under artificial lighting in greenhouses. We welcome visitors to see our greenhouses, and then enjoy a taste of the crop. And now they can take delicious food souvenirs away with them, made of our tomatoes and cucumbers. We also breed horses, and put on a horse show – in fourteen different languages. Strategy of Friðheimar with focus on Sustainability and Responsible Tourism The direction of Fridheimar is to ensure that our produce and services continue to fulfil the expectations of our customers, with the same quality standards being maintained into the future as the business grows. Maintaining good connections with our customers and fellow growers into the future is also of key importance. We use a quality system based on ‘Vakinn’ (described later) and the ‘quality handbook of horticulture’. All our employees participate in continuously improving this quality system so that it can facilitate us in the best way possible in regards to providing high quality produce and services. As we all know companies have a major impact on their surroundings and community with their activities. Our company is no exception and that is why Friðheimar wants to offer an environmentally and socially responsible service for our guests. We want to set a good example for our colleagues within the tourism industry by taking responsibility and help making our business as sustainable as possible. For this occasion Friðheimar has signed a memorandum of understanding about responsible tourism which Íslenski Ferðaklasinn and FESTA (center about CSR) are responsible for. Also, Friðheimar now has the certification from Vakinn, which is the quality and environmental service for the tourism industry.
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