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Iceland is about the most pronounceable name associated with the island. Despite spending two weeks here, I will never be able to pronounce any of the place names!
Even the infamous volcano, Eyjafjallajokull has been renamed E15! Despite its somewhat misleading name, summers here are actually pretty hot and dry. The midday sun was shining bright as we headed to Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s innumerable waterfalls. The name (easy to remember by Icelandic standards) translates as ‘golden falls’ and true to its word; the water cascades off the three steep staircases like liquid gold in the sunshine.
A Trip to Gulfoss
We were lucky to visit on such a beautiful day, gazing in awe at the array of rainbows created by the light bouncing off the water spray. Gullfoss is one-third of the Golden Circle route, which does a lap around Iceland’s famed triplet of natural wonders just outside Reykjavik.
A little further down the road, we stopped at the world-renowned geysers, a geologist’s dream. At first, all seem (relatively) calm as we watched one of the biggest, Strokkur, gently bubbling away.
All of a sudden – WHOOSH! That seems to be the only word to describe the sound of it! Water erupted 30 metres into the air with a ferocious force, spewing hot water up in a flourish of steam. Warm spray showered down on the surrounding earth and anyone who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – and yes, that was me!
Fortunately, it was a hot day so I didn’t take too long to dry off! It was quite a contrast to earlier on the trip when we cooled our Viking beers (the local favourite) in an icy stream.
Iceland Hot Springs
Don’t worry if you don’t fancy a hasty shower from Strokkur, this trip offers plenty of opportunities to bathe in Iceland’s geothermal waters; from the aquamarine pools of the Blue Lagoon spa complex just outside Reykjavik to the bubbling baths around Lake Myvatn and the boulder-fringed pools of Storurd up in the Dyrfjoll Mountains.
The final stop en route to Thingvellir National Park took us to the Parliamentary Plains, the old site of the first Icelandic Parliament. This area became the country’s first National Park in 1928 and a World Heritage area in 2004. It sits right on top of a major fault line, where the faults and fissures of the area make evident the rifting of the Earth’s crust.
It is also home to the largest natural lake in Iceland. This is one of the places you can see the sculpting hand of mother nature take a beautiful, powerful turn as she creates her work of art.
Iceland is a young country by most standards, still constantly evolving. That’s what makes this landscape so special; it’s what makes it so exhilarating to be here. All I can say is “Takk Fyrir Iceland” – not that I can pronounce it right, of course! – By Ian Langford, who travelled on our Iceland Walking Explorer trip.
See our trips to Iceland below and discover this magical land.