Golden Circle Tour (east and northeast of Reykjavik)
Pingvellir National Park
Pingvellir National Park, located about 40km northeast of Reykjavik, is a site of geological, historic and cultural importance and up to today is one of the most popular tourist destination in the country. It is situated in the northern shore of Pingvallavatn, Iceland’s largest natural lake.
It lies in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between the North American (to the west) and Eurasian (to the east) tectonic plates.
The national parliament of Iceland was founded here in 930, and sessions were held until 1798. It became a national park in 1928 to protect the remains of the parliament site, and in 2004 it became a World Heritage Site.
Pingvellir is notable for its unusual tectonic and volcanic environment. The Almannagja canyon was formed by the continental drift between North American and Eurasian Plates, which is visible in the cracks or faults surrounding the area.
Known as The Great Geysir, this is another major tourist attraction in Iceland. The entire world’s spouting hot springs are named after this Geysir, which is located about 100 km east of Reykjavik.
Geysir is situated in the Haukadalur valley, on the Laugarfjall hill. The Strokkur geyser is located about 50 metres to the south.
Eruptions at Geysir can hurl boiling water of over 60 metres high, where the oldest accounts of hot springs in this area date back t0 1294. Changes in activity of Geysir and the surrounding geysers are very much influenced by earthquake activity.
This majestic waterfall located in the canyon of the Hvita river, about 120 km northeast of Reykjavik, is the last part of the Golden Circle Tour. Gullfoss offers a spectacular view of the forces and beauty of untouched nature right on the river that is fed by Iceland’s second largest glacier, the Langjokull.
The water runs down 32 metres in two stages into a rugged canyon, of which the walls are up to 70 metres in height. On average, the amount of water running down the waterfall is about 80 cubic metres per second in the winter, and 140 cubic meters per second in the summer.
Aurora Borealis (third evening, second sighting): In the evening, around 9PM, we started our second hunt for the northern lights outside Reykjavik. We were very lucky, again!