Olli Thomson
Photography

The Golden Circle

Convoys of minibuses pack the streets of Reykjavik. These are run by the many companies who offer tours of sites beyond the city. Being restricted to certain routes and pick up points they line up bumper to bumper during peak pick up time in the morning. We decided to take a tour of the ‘Golden Circle’, a trio of sites in the vicinity of Reykjavik that can be done in a day. The tour began with a brief extra stop at a waterfall called Faxi, pleasant enough but not exactly memorable. The first proper stop was another waterfall, Gullfoss.

The next stop is the Haukadalur geothermal area home to geysers, hot springs and mud pots. The two main attractions are the geysers Strokkur and Geysir. The former erupts briefly every five to ten minutes while the latter though largely dormant now is significant because our English word ‘geyser’ is derived from its name. I have no photographs from this area because, to be honest, its not that impressive, particularly having visited Yellowstone in the past.

The third stop is the Thingvellir National Park, of geological significance because the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates runs through the park with the edges of both plates visible, and of historical significance because it was here that the earliest settlers established the Althing in 930, an assembly or parliament that exercised legislative and judicial authority.

While the tour was a good option in the first day or two it is much better to hire a car and see the sites at your own pace. The tours are expensive and hiring a car is often a much cheaper option. Obviously some of the more specialized activities do require you to join a tour group but there is no lack of things to see and do on your own.

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