This was one of my favorite stops on the tour. Gulfoss (Golden Falls) is a two-tiered waterfall. It's pretty loud and sprays mist high into the air. The light dusting of snow on the rocks surrounding the falls seemed to magnify its beauty. There is a path that leads to some rocks overlooking the upper tier of the falls. Kristine warned us to be very careful if we decided to walk the path because it was covered in slushy ice and kind of steep in some places. Traci and I saw some other people that had made it down the path so we, along with a few others from our tour group, decided to go for it. It was pretty slippery and we got wet from the mist of the falls but it was an incredible view when we reached the overlook.
down the slippery path
climbing the rocks for better view
"We made it!"
Have you ever wondered where the word "geyser" came from? Me neither, but I found it interesting to learn that the word originated from the Great Geysir in Iceland. Geysir used to erupt regularly sending steam and boiling water high into the air; however, an earthquake in June 2000 disrupted its regular cycle. Now its eruptions are unpredictable.
Fortunately, not far from Geysir, is a geyser named Strokkur. This one erupts every 3 to 8 minutes. We were able to witness this awesome event several times.
The whole area around the geysers had a very mystical look. There was steam rising from the ground and pools of boiling water and mud. The water appeared very blue because of the reflection from the minerals it contains. There was a stench of sulfur and burnt earth in the air.
Kristine advised us to stay on the wooden walkways and behind the ropes when viewing the geysers. She said that several people every year are scolded by the hot water in the area. The most common accidents seem to occur when people are backing up to take a picture. We heeded her advice and had a great time admiring this natural phenomena.
Lunch was included with our Golden Circle tour. Our tour group had lunch in the restaurant across the road from the geysers. The meal consisted of soup, potatoes, cabbage, and some delicious steamed salmon.
There was also a souvenir shop and a Geo Center museum to which we had free admission. The Geo Center explained how geysers are formed. The highlight of the exhibit was a platform on which you could stand that simulates a 5.1 earthquake.
Geothermal field with Strokkur erupting in the background
During the Golden Circle tour we passed several farms that had Icelandic horses. The horses were brought from Norway by the early settlers of Iceland. Over the centuries, these relatively small horses have adapted to the rugged, rocky landscape of Iceland and are capable of providing the rider a smooth ride over this terrain. Kristine told us it has become the 'in thing' in Iceland to own these horses. They are strictly protected. If a horse is taken from the island for any reason, it cannot be brought back. This ensures the purity of the breed. continue...