Reykjavik – Vik – Golden Circle
Many clients have stayed two nights in Reykjavik and been to see the puffins and whales for a day which works well. Others have stayed another day and done the Golden Circle (the Geyser, Gullfoss, Glacier and Sellfoss) on a second day. This is a long day but worthwhile. It also gives you a chance to see more and get more of a feel for Reykjavik. I did the Golden Circle ‘Light’ as I did not go on the glacier or do Sellfoss as I headed on south and east after the Gullfoss.
First stop was Pingvellir which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Centre of Icelandic culture. It is where the first Icelandic general assembly came together for the first time shortly before 930 AD. It also overlooks Lake Pingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in the country, which draws 90% of its water from underground. It is home to four species of arctic char as well as brown trout. A very beautiful place made even more interesting as it sits on the mid-Atlantic ridge so there is a fissure or large crack to be seen in the rock throughout the area.
Just under an hour of driving through wonderful country was geyser (which gave its name to all other geysers). There is a very good visitor centre with good lunch options and all the famous Iceland brands of clothing such as 66 North, Geyser, Farmers Market etc. Just a short walk away the ‘strokkur spout’ geyser performs at about ten minute intervals and it really is fun to look around and watch this extraordinary spectacle. The warning signs everywhere stating that the water was between 80 and 100 degrees was a reminder of what is taking place under the ground.
Back in the car and another few kilometres and the spray from Gullfoss can clearly be seen. Another good visitor centre (by the way all the loos so far have been world class for style and cleanliness!) with an easy walk down to the falls itself. Be sure to wear a waterproof jacket and have some sort of protection for your camera. In certain places the spray is quite heavy. Gullfoss is a spectacular two-tier waterfall carrying the water of the Hvita river from the Langjokull glacier. We have all seen waterfalls, especially as fishermen, but I have to admit that along with the surrounding country it really is worth seeing. I would like to see it in the winter half frozen.
From there it is easy to see the Langjokull glacier and there is a 15kms track that leads very close to it (4×4 only) where you can park and walk up to the glacier.
The scenery is truly spectacular. At this point the Golden Circle starts to head back to Reykjavik but it is easy to head to the south coast to either Hella or Vik. At Hella there is various accommodation, the best of which seems to be the 4 star Ranga Hotel which had very nice rooms. Or, push on a bit further to Vik but be sure to stop at the Skogarfoss, a beautiful waterfall easily spotted from the road and the basalt rocks and black beach at Dyrholaey where there is a sea-arch large enough for a ship to sail through. There is also the black stacks, an equally impressive sight towering out of the sea.
At Vik, the place to stay is Hofdabrekka, again, good, spacious, clean and comfortable rooms. Not fine dining but good enough after a long and interesting day. In my view, this day could be done over two days depending on your level of interest and the pace at which you want to move.