Golden Circle Tour to Gullfoss waterfalls, Geysir and Þingvellir National Park

Day 1, May 12th, 2002

The Golden Circle tour is one of the most popular excursion, usually a full day tour from Reykjavik by bus, visiting the impressive Gulfoss waterfalls, the geyser national park area and Thingvellir, where the American and European continents meet together.

Iceland waterfall Iceland waterfall
A nice waterfall in south Iceland, en route to the more massive Gullfoss.

 

Gullfoss waterfall, Iceland Gullfoss waterfall, Iceland
The impressive Gullfoss (Golden waterfall). Click HEREfor a video of Gufffoss (13.5 megabytes, MPEG)
It is one of the most famous waterfall in Iceland and they are actually two waterfalls with a combined height of 32 meters. The upper fall is 14 meters high, while the lower is 18 meters. They are formed by the Hvita glacial river while running its 133 km route to the ocean.

 

Gullfoss waterfall, Iceland Gullfoss waterfall, Iceland
The water finally flows in a canyon up to 70 meters high and 2.5 km long.

 

Gullfoss waterfall, Iceland Gullfoss waterfall, Iceland
The higher waterfall's jump, between rocks of different colors and sizes. On the left-side of the above-right picture, some people is walking on a natural terrace near the waterfall.

 

Today the temperature is -2 °C and the dew sprayed on the surrounding rocks and terrain instantly freezes, creating blocks of ice of bizzarre shapes.

 

Geothermal activity, Iceland Geothermal activity, Iceland
The tour continues to an area fatured by an intense geothermical activity, where there are several hot ponds, hot springs and a spectacular geysir (geyser).

 

Hot springs, Iceland Hot springs, Iceland
Hot springs, Iceland Hot springs, Iceland
The geothermal activity is very frequent in Iceland, in most cases the hot water is used as cheap source of heat for houses and greenhouses. Often the drinkable water must be cooled-down before use (but this isn't a big problem here...). This kind of activity is generated underground from volcanism: the groundwater flows close to hot rocks which stand directly over the mantle chamber, and accumulates heat. In low temperature fields (as represented on the above pictures), clear water wells up and may reach the boiling point in pools and geysers, although it never exceeds 150 °C underground. I have to be very carefully while walking here because the crust is very thin... and very hot below the surface !

 

Strokkur geyser, Iceland
Strokkur geyser. It is one of the most active geyser in Iceland and erupts usually every 3 - minutes. On the top-left picture, an eruption is just starting, then, in less than one second, a tall column of hot water and gas suddenly arises. Finally everything ends in a big cloud of hot vapor. The eruption occurs when the water, which continuously accumulates underground, superheats exceeding the boiling point of about 4 / 5° C. Because of the tremendous pressure, an explosion takes place, and the water spills out with a huge force. See a VIDEO of the firsteruption HERE !
See a VIDEO of the seconderuption HERE !
(about 3 megabytes each)

 

Geysir, Iceland Geyser, Iceland
Another nice explosion. They are very frequent.

 

Strokkur geysir, Iceland Strokkur geyser, Iceland
It is very nice to stay here, waiting for the explosions.

 

Thingvellir, Iceland Thingvellir, Iceland
Thingvellir, Iceland Earth crust fall, Iceland
Þingvellir National Park. The Þingvellirplains are a unique work of nature and they are in a rift between the tectonic plates of the Earth's crust, the American plate to the west and the Eurasian plate to the East. The American plate is moving westward, while the Eurasian plate is moving eastward. The land is spreading on the margin between the boundaries, forming the rift valley.

 

Earth crust fall, Iceland Earth crust fall, Iceland
Geological formations inside Þingvellir.

 

old Viking parliament old Viking parliament
Inside Þingvellir there is also the old Viking parliament, where the National Assemblies was held.

 

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