After a solid night of sleep and another super star buffet breakfast, we started driving the Golden Circle. Some people do this in just one day, but we of course found a bazillion places to stop that aren’t listed on the main tour maps, to hike and oh yes…snowmobile!
A short drive out of town and we were already ohhing and ahhing at the landscape, when we arrived at our first stop (not on most people’s drive, but of course on ours!). This town fascinated me thanks to our hiking guide who told us that here they have no graveyards.
Why is that interesting? Because the ground temperature is over 60 degrees they can’t bury anyone or they’d cook! EIIKK!!Anyhow we weren’t there to bury anyone, so we made our way to paved path up in to the mountains which lead to a hot spring where you could potentially strip down and soak for a bit.
This was literally the ONLY paved hiking path we encountered during the many hikes we did over the course of the week…and can you tell how steep it is? So freaking cool.We got to side tracked by the sheep, the horses and the steaming hot springs on the way up so no skinny dipping for us. We had more places to see..as soon as I made friends.
KERIð CRATER LAKE
The next stop on our drive was back to something they list for tourist. Opening the car door we both nearly fell over from the massive wind gusts, which I admit concerned me a tad as we walked along a narrow ridge looking down in to a massive whole in the ground!Kerid is a volcanic crater lake that was originally a cone volcano that erupted and and emptied its magma reselve. Once the magma was depleted, the weight of the cone collapsed into an empty magma chamber, later to be filled with water. The water here never drains, it just rises and falls in sync with the water tables.While you could walk to the bottom on a nice day and even take a very cold dip, we just enjoyed the view from above with our hands shoved in our pockets.
Can I be super honest?? Our legs were so sore from the previous day of 7 hours hiking we couldn’t fathom getting back up!!
RIDING ALONG IN MY AUTOMOBILE
Now the real adventure started! Based on my calculations we were just an hour away from our snowmobile tour…this was based on a very loosely provided direction from them that said “turn after the waterfall and follow the road.”Hmmm so we turned and suddenly the paved road turned to dirt and everything around us turned to massive boulders. Our little Yaris was shaking hard core, but we kept thinking it must just be a tad farther.
A tad farther was 45 minutes of bone rattling driving, at which point we arrived at “their small cabin” only to find this was not the meeting point, we need to keep driving!!As you might have guessed we were INSANELY late to our tour and of course both wondering if we had just jostled loose our innards and spent a bunch of money for nothing.
NOPE! The guide said “you are late!” but then bustled us off to get in to full snowsuits, extra gloves and face masks. Unfortunately our lateness meant I didn’t get the waterproof foot covers so I had wet shoes for the ride…yes cold to the 9th degree as we splashed through melting waters from the get go.
Actually making our way to the glacier to start the ride was once again it’s own part of the journey! We strapped ourselves in to a mega bus and then the boulders you see above…we drove over them, no roads here at all! 20 minutes later we reached the edge of the glacier and with a 30 second here’s how you turn it on explanation, we zipped off following a guide on a mission to catch us up with the small group.
Zoooooom, eeeeiiikkkk, heeeeellllp, ohhhh shitttttttttt.
Quite certain the only sounds out there were the machines and me. As we skipped like a rock across the water I found out that holding on to a thin metal bar with slick gloves was nearly impossible and if we turned, without really understanding the weight distribution we came close to flipping twice.
That was just the first 10 minutes!It’s fair to say I thought I might need to change my underwear. David clearly being in front of me couldn’t see the terror radiating across my face and really just though most of my squeals were a bit like someone on a roller coaster.
The rest of our group was single riders which meant more control and desire to FLY.
After our first stop, I said well my friend we have to slow down cause I’m not going to die today…I’d like to see the glacier and enjoy it. David is a great sport so we slowed down and then the group disappeared into the fog.
Ooopss. The words off our instructor came rattling in “you must stay in the guides tracks, there are many large crevasses“.As we soon realized the others were zipping about wherever they pleased, so this may have been an exaggerated take… Or not who really wants to find out?
Either way, as we finished and boarded the next mega bus to drive back up the boulders I could see it written on David’s face – this was possibly the best excursion I had EVER selected on a vacation. And that my friends was enough to make it worth every “please God I don’t want to die today” moment.
NIGHT TIME RELAXATION
Finally the day was ready to come to a close, but of course we had that whole drive back along the teeth shattering road to reach Hotel Geysir, which upon first pass looks like an adorable old building full of charm.
Except that’s not where the lobby is any longer or the rooms. It turned out to be the most minimal room ever – no clock, no photos, no shower curtain or tub or bath mat.
You know us, we couldn’t care less as long as it was clean and comfy, which it was. Once we had sufficiently refueled with lamb stew, it was time to take advantage once again of the geothermal powers of Iceland!
The hotel had a great thermal spa with a sauna. It was nice to relax and chat with a few others who wandered in throughout the evening as we all waited for the big show to begin…the Northern Lights.
I was tuckered out after our big adventures and a relaxing soak, but couldn’t wait to see the lights. Around 10 we bundled up and ventured out to see them start to peak through.
According to all the sites it was only a 4 on a scale of 9, which means we didn’t get the full show, but it was awesome just the same! I’m not a pro photographer, but at least I was able to capture a little of the essence. The color are more vivid in a photograph due to the long exposure.
David woke me up later in the night as he continued to peak out the window hoping for the show to get even better… and it did. At this point the bands were really moving across the sky and I so wish a video could capture it, but it’s just too dark. I attempted a few more sleepy shots and here is one for your viewing pleasure! All in all, day one of the Golden Circle surpassed my expectations. Is it possible for day two to be anywhere near as good?? Yeah spoiler alert it was good and in a totally different way.
Have you ever been snowmobiling?
Ever seen the Northern Lights?
Since I know not everyone wants to read every detail of our insanely amazing out of this world trip, I divided it up in to a number of posts:
Iceland Overview: Food, Fun Facts and More
Iceland Volcano Hike to Fimmvörðuháls
Blue Lagoon: What to Expect
Driving the Golden Circle Day 1: Snowmobiling
Driving the Golden Circle Day 2: Geyser’s and Waterfalls
Reykjavik Off The Beaten Path
Reykjavik What to See + Esjan Hike (still in progress!)
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