The Golden Circle
Thingvellir National Park
One of the closest areas to visit from Reykjavik is Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park. The Park is of historical significance to Icelanders. This is where the oldest open air parliament in the world (the Althing) was established in 930 and continued to meet till 1798. Thingvellir is also of paramount geological interest. The North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates run through the Park and have created a rift which continues to expand.
Thingvallatn is the largest natural lake in Iceland and lies south of the Park. It is the habitat of 150 types of plants and 50 invertebrates.
Gulfoss (golden falls) is fed by glacial melt from Langjökull, the second largest ice cap in Iceland. When glacier melts and flows down the river, it carries sediment with it. Hence the water is somewhat golden in hue. Gulfoss cascades in two tiers down a 32 meter canyon. Sunshine and a spray of mist in the air will create a rainbow to make your heart leap. Yes, Wordsworth!
Strokkur (The Churn)
Strokkur is the most active geyser in Haukadalur Valley. It spouts regularly about every ten minutes and you can anticipate its arrival by watching the activity in the boiling basin. When it spouts, it is accompanied by a thunderous noise but it ends too quickly leaving the onlooker begging for more.
The Great Geysir was once the main attraction in this field with its 60 to 80 meter high jet trajectory but it has been dormant since 1916 and now spouts a mere 8 to 10 meters high into the air at less regular intervals.
Steam vents, small geysers, hot springs, and warm streams populate this active geothermal field bounded by Laugarfjall mountain. The raw and volcanic landscape of The Golden Circle has attracted the production company of the successful TV series, Game of Thrones. The brooding backdrop is tailor-made for their show.
Images by TravelswithCharie