Many companies in Iceland run a lot of the same tours and lots of them work out of Reykjavik – making it easy for tourists like me to organise one. My girlfriend and I were up early this morning, as we had booked ourselves onto a Blue Lagoon/Golden Circle tour. As it turned out, the blue lagoon was fully booked so we couldn’t go. Instead, we just went on a “Golden Circle Classic” tour.
A shuttle bus pulled up right outside our hotel and took us to the main bus terminal. We didn’t have to wait long until we could jump on a large coach with lots of other people, as well as a tour guide. It was hard to make sense of what the tour guide said sometimes, but it was nice to have her there.
After a short drive into rural Iceland, the landscape turned almost life-less. Other than a few grassy spots, the ground was completely covered in snow… It was incredible! Looking around, you could see high mountains and dormant volcanoes. The endless, winding roads were leading us through another planet – one with photographic opportunities everywhere you looked. Even from the coach, I could get so many amazing shots. It just took a long lens and a battle with reflections on the glass.
Our first stop was Thingvellir national park. We had forty-five minutes to explore and take in the outstanding beauty. A viewing platform offered panoramic views and there were more trails to walk along. A lake added to the landscape’s beauty and a church was the cherry on top for my photos.
Our next stop was the incredible Gullfoss, otherwise known as the golden waterfall. It’s one of Iceland’s most amazing waterfalls, and it’s just a short drive away. It offers the perfect introduction to the rest of Iceland’s waterfalls and can be seen from a variety of angles thanks to the number of viewing areas.
Gullfoss is literally huge. There are two falls that equate to a height of about 32m. The water flows through a huge canyon 20m wide. It’s outstanding!
Although the falls are an amazing sight, they can be hard to photograph because of the water spray. It’s also quite hard to simply find a solid composition.
In the winter, because of the snow and ice, some sections of the falls are cut off from public access. This is a shame because it’s right where I wanted to go, but the other viewing areas did the job.
Just another short drive away was our next stop – Geysir. Geysir is the name given to one of the erupting hot springs in the area, and the name adopted by the area. Geysir can be known to erupt 60m high, but it doesn’t erupt very often. A second geyser (Strokkur) erupts every few minutes at a height of roughly 30m.
The air is rich of sulphur and smells a lot like egg. The ground is covered in fine dirt and one mountain is located is in the distance, but is tall enough to still tower over you. The landscape is scattered with pools of clear, blue water and is dotted with many smaller geysers amongst the much larger. As you can imagine, it’s like another planet.
The atmosphere was great as everyone waited patiently for the explosions. The area has lots of facilities including a restaurant and toilets – just like many of the other stops along the tour. We even stopped off for coffee and toilets along the way.
Some other stops we went to included a church situated on the edge of a lake, next to a volcano and in the middle of an outstanding landscape, as well as a horse farm which was appropriate as Iceland is fairly famous for it’s horses. The long hair and winter coats amazed me, and so did the fact that all of the horses have owners even though they look so wild and roam pretty much freely. These two stops on the tour were pretty cool, but didn’t compare to the first few.
On our way back to Reykjavik, it was crazy to be driving through untouched lava fields. I think that hiring a car and having a lot more freedom over what we were doing would’ve been better, but it was great to have a tour guide who gave us lots of information. I’m also just glad to have seen what we did.
Full Photo Gallery | Reykjavik | Northern Lights