Reykjavik and the Golden Circle

golden circle 4

From the Bleu lagoon we continued north towards Reykjavik, but stopped for the night in nearby Hafnarfjordur, which according to the signage is the city of Vikings, Elves, and lava. It apparently has the largest concentration of elves, dwarves, and hidden people on the island! It is set in a 7000-year old lava field and is home to a large Viking festival every summer. That said it is a very picturesque fishing town with brightly colored metal or wood clad houses.

DSC01002

DSC01003

DSC01006

DSC01007

DSC01008

DSC01009

Most visitors to Iceland land in the capital and then only do a tour of the “golden circle” This includes the major attractions in a 300 km loop. They see Thingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss waterfall, and the Geysers as well as a scenic drive.

Golden-circle-in-Iceland

We did a 212 km route off road and on the secondary roads.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 8.15.05 PM

We started our tour in Reykjavik with a visit to the waterfront and then the Viking ship sculpture.

golden circle 2

golden circle 4

golden circle 7

Driving into the city center the skyline is dominated by the huge tower of the Hallgrimskirkja church. It was designed to look like the forms and shapes that lava makes when it cools into basalt rock. The statue out front is of Leifur Eiriksson, who was the first European to discover America in 1000AD.

golden circle 9

golden circle 11

golden circle 8

From here we decided to take the small dirt road and cut cross-country to skip the highway driving and head right to the main sights.

golden circle 12

golden circle 13

golden circle 14

golden circle 22

golden circle 31

golden circle 28

On the way we did have some incredible view across the lake to Thingvellir.

golden circle 17

golden circle 18

golden circle 19

golden circle 20

golden circle 21

golden circle 23

golden circle 25

golden circle 26

golden circle 29

golden circle 30

The first stop was at Geysir to see the hot water eruptions. The Great geyser was dormant before an 1896 earthquake and by 1910 was active about every 30 minutes this frequency declined over time and then only rarely. Since an earthquake in 2000 it became active again but by 2003 was only erupting about 3 times a day. The nearby Strokkur geyser erupts up to 30 meters every few minutes. It is very cool to stand there and watch the pool start to swirl and then splash over the sides. This increases in intensity until suddenly a large bubble appears followed by a huge plume of hot water.

golden circle 32

IMG_4157

golden circle 34

golden circle 33

golden circle 40

golden circle 41

golden circle 43

golden circle 35

golden circle 38

golden circle 37

IMG_4446

IMG_4446 (1)

IMG_4446 (2)

Next we rode over to Gullfoss, which is one of the most popular attractions on the island. The river makes a sharp turn and flows down a wide 3-tier staircase and then abruptly crashes into a 32-meter deep crevice. From a certain angle it looks like the river disappears into the earth. There was a lot of controversy here since the plan was to use the river to generate electricity. It was saved because of the failure of investors to raise the money and the land was sold to the state for protection.

golden circle 44

DSC01135

golden circle 46

golden circle 47

golden circle 48

golden circle 50

DSC02960

golden circle 53

golden circle 54

golden circle 57

golden circle 60

We tried to make a circle route by heading further east to get one of the infamous “F” roads back, but arriving at the start of the dirt road we found it was blocked off due to snow! We backtracked a bit and headed to the campground at Thingvellir.

golden circle 61

Here several other riders joined us. We had run into these 3 German guys several days in a row and so we felt it was time for a photo op.

olafsvk 3

olafsvk 1

golden circle 62

olafsvk 2

This entry was posted in Iceland. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *