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The Golden Circle : The perfect trip for a short stay

The Golden Circle : The perfect trip for a short stay

If you have only one day available to visit around Reykjavik, then, the Golden Circle is for you. This unavoidable tour will allow you to discover the most important natural, historical and cultural sites of Iceland in just one day.

Geysir and Strokkur geothermal field

It is one of the smallest high temperature areas in Iceland. Particularly well-known for its hot springs and geysers, it is located in the Haukadalur valley. In the middle of a green vegetation and flowers, you will have the good luck to attend a rare geothermal event. The most famous are Geysir and Strokkur. Geysir has been inactive for several years  but is now active since the earthquake in 2000.

Strokkur

 Strokkur is one of the most powerful and spectacular geysers, erupting every 4 to 8 minutes to reach a height ranging from 20 to 25 meters or more. It is nicknamed “the Fantastic Geysir” because it is the only one to erupt most regularly. It is the main attraction of the Haukadalur Valley and the reason why it is one of the most visited sites in the country. Although Geysir erupts at heights of up to 80 meters, it is far from being regular enough to justify the popularity of Haukadalur.

Haukadalur valley

The Haukadalur valley also has many other features that worth the visit!  The natural beauty of the area, hot springs and other small geysers are located all around, and the soil itself is naturally colored by elements such as copper (green), sulfur (yellow), and iron (red).

The criteria for a successful eruption

Active geysers like Strokkur are rare in the world because a certain number of criteria have to be merged together for a successful eruption!

The first important criterion is the natural presence of a hot spring. The magma must be close to the surface for the stones to be hot enough to heat the water. Since Iceland is located between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, this criterion is met in most of the country.

A groundwater source is also needed. In the case of Strokkur, this source comes from the second largest glacier in the country: Langjökull. The glacier melt water infiltrates into the porous lava rock and travels underground in all directions.

Finally, to create a Geyser, it is necessary to have a complex natural system that allows a geyser to erupt. Above the intense heat source, there must be a space for the flowing water to collect like a reservoir. From this basin, there must be a conduit for the exhaust of gases. This pipe must be lined with silica so that boiling and rising water cannot escape before the eruption. Silica is the natural form of silicon dioxide which is used in the composition of many minerals.

Gullfoss waterfall

Located at the northeast of Geysir, Gullfoss is not the highest waterfall in Iceland but is probably one of the most impressive! Considered as the most famous waterfall in Iceland, Gullfoss is certainly also the most beautiful.
High of 32 meters, this powerful waterfall, getting its water from the same glacier as Strokkur : Langjokull which means the "Golden Fall" in Icelandic which gave the name of the golden circle.

 because of the golden rainbow which appears above the gorges when the weather is clear.
Inescapable waterfall in Iceland, it is not to be missed and might leave you speechless.

Gullfoss water flow

On average, the water flow is around 110 m3 per second, but during floods, it can fill nearly 50 Olympic swimming pools in one minute. The floods are so intense that they can fill the gorge to the top, which is 32 meters high.

 

Sigriður and his fight to protect Gullfoss:

The tourism of this incredible waterfall dates to 1875 and its access was rather difficult. Sigriður, who is an important figure in the myth surrounding the waterfall, often guided visitors to it, and she, and her sisters, built the first path down to the waterfall.

When she heard that Gullfoss was going to be hired by certain investors to generate electricity, she sued them, even threatening to throw herself into the waterfall. Fortunately, investors did not pay the rent and the property was recovered and sold to the Icelandic government to protect the waterfall as we know it today.

Þingvellir National Park

This site, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, presents an interest from both historical and geological points of view. Situated by the largest lake in the country (þingvallavatn), it is pleasant to take a walk. This vast green plain around the lake allows to have beautiful walks. You will enjoy the scenery, the atmosphere and have your feet between two continents. Within the park you will discover Almannagjá rift, huge rift caused by the drift of the two continents, which marks the Eastern border of the North American plate.

 

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