Golden Circle – Þingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss

One of the most visited and very popular one-day tours from Reykjavik. This tour leads to many of most spectacular touristic attraction of Iceland. Tour starts and finish in Hverfisgata 88, 101 Reykjavik at 10.00 am and ends at 17.00.

Dates: all days

Main places of interest:

*(location on the map) / time of visit not including transportation

Þingvellir (1) /1,5 hour

Geysir (2) / 1 hour

Gullfoss (3) / 1 hour

 

Price of excursion: 7.000 ISK

Iceland is a place where weather can change every 5 minutes. In case of a heavy rain or a strong wind, the places of interest can be reduced. The decision is up to drivers responsibility.

1 . Þingvellir – National shire of all Icelanders, UNESCO

The first stop is in Þingvellir National Park. The crew of the HBO television has been filming fourth season of Game of Thrones here.

Take route n. 36 from Reykjavik 48km. First stop on our route Althingi (parliament)

The foundation of Althingi, dated in AD 930, marked the beginning of old Icelandic Commonwealth and the Icelandic nation. Althingi continued to meet until 1798. Althingi assembeled around the middle of June for a session of about 2 weeks and all free and law-abiding citizens could attend. Logrétta (the Law Council) /located under Lögerg/ was the heart of proceeding. The Council ruled on legal disputes, enacted new legislation, and granted exemption from law.

Lögberg (The Law Rock) – plain with flag

This is that place where Icelanders chose to adopt Christianity as a national religion. This is also the place where, 264 years later, the Icelanders chose to accept personal union with the king of Norway (1262). Towards the end of 14th century, when the kingdoms of Norway, Sweden and Denmark united to Calmar Union, Iceland came to be ruled from Denmark.

This is the place where representatives of the people gathered once a year until the 19th century, when the parliament was transfered to the burgeoning town of Reykjavik which had become the nation’s capital.

But it is not just Thingvellir the memorial which pulls the hardest at the heart-string, but the nature of the place: this huge, moss-grown plain, where the moss glows yellow in the rain and green in the sunshine, the modest birchwood and the delightful wood cranesbill (blágresi) which has given part of Thingvellir the name „Bláskógaheiði“

Staddling two continents

Thingvellir lies within a belt of volcanic activity and fissures which passed across Iceland, a part of the mid-Atlantic Ridge, the junction of the American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Thingvellir is located on the western end of the rift valley, which extends from the mountains in the north-west down to Thingvallvatn (lake). Over the past 10,000 years the earth´s crust has been subsiding and diverging here.

As a fact of the continetal drift – in the summer of 2000, two severe earthquakes occurred in the South Iceland. Records indicate that the divergence over 10,000 years amounts to 70 meters. Over the same period the valley floor has subsided by 40m. Nowdays every year America´s and Europe´s plates are growing 2-3 cm further from each other.

Thingvellir National Park

NP was founded by law in 1930. The Act states that „Thingvellir at Öxará shall be a protected national shire for all Icelanders“ In 2004 Thingvellir was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Thingvallavatn (Thingvellir lake) is Iceland´s largest natural lake, 84 km2 in area. It lies above 100m above sea level. And it´s greatest depth is 114m. So in some points is under sea level. Almost nineteenths of the water that flows into lake comes in spring flows long distances underground. Many streams came from Langjökull glacier in the north. The recent lava flows mean that the mineral content of the groundwater is high, and this is one of the contributory factors in the lakes thriving ecosystem. The water is nutritious and rich in vegetation, though very cold. Three fish species are found in Thingvellir lake: two species of trout and stickleback. At the top of the lake’s food chain is the brown trout (Salmo trutta) which may reach a size of up to 30 pounds.

2. Geysir

There could be seen some of the most famous sights of the island, the geysers. The biggest geysers of Haukadalur are Strokkur and Geysir itself, which gave the others their name. Strokkur is very dependable and erupts every 5 to 10 minutes, throwing a white column of water up into the air to a height of 20 30m. In the beginning of 18th century Geysir erupted three times each day. Nowadays the bigger Geysir has been quiet for some time. There are also a lot of other little hot spring nearby.

How do they work?

The Great Geysir erupts very irregularly and today it has almost completely stopped erupting unless it is treated with soap. In 1984 a young pharmacist put 10 pounds of soap in Geysir in order to trigger eruption – to rousing Geysir from its slumber. The Natural way for an eruption to occur is as follows. 3 basic things are needed – plumbing system, hot water and chamber where underground water can be accumulated. It works like steam pot in the kitchen. The boiling starts in the bowl where water can reach temperatures more than 120 °C as deeper in the earth– the hotter the temperature. Then, under the pressure of creating steam, water is pushing via the plumbing system up. When the water and steam will find an open pipe it will surface in the shape of a column. When most of the water is gone, the pipe will starts fill again and a new cycle begins.

Geysers are individual and erupt differently from place to place. The reason for eruptions are still a matter of controversy.

Blesi – is not geyser now but previously did erupt up to 1m height. Small blue lake located up to the Strokkur. The bluish colour is due to silica colloidal solution that scatters light. Blesi is a common Icelandic name for a horse with a light coloured patch on the forehead. The hot spring is divided into two halves, one is clean and second one blue-green. The dividing bar between two halves is “the blaze” = Blesi.

3. Gullfos

Gullfoss (Gull – gold, foss – waterfall ) is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. It is the flow of the wide Hvita river rushes southward. The average amount of water running over this waterfall is 140 m³/s in the summertime and 80 m³/s in the wintertime. On a sunny day rainbows form in the mist clouds from the hammering falls which makes Gullfoss a very special place to see. – During first half of 20th century, there was an interest to use Hvíta river for generating electricity, which would have changed the waterfall forever. The investor attempts were unsuccessful, partly due to lack of money.

– The Gullfoss features in the music video for the single “Heaven” by the band Live. During the video a young man and a young woman separated by the Hvítá  river exchange written messages carried on rocks that they throw to each other over the river and the falls. At the end of the music video the young man attempts to swim across the Hvítá  river downstream from the Gulfoss. His young lady friend is so horrified by seeing him being washed down the Hvítá  river that she also jumps into the river in order to help him. They then float down the river holding onto each other.

– From surrounding of waterfall is possible to see glaciers Langjokull and Hofsjokull.

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