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Golden Circle express afternoon tour to the most popular attractions in Iceland, see Strokkur erupting boiling water skywards at Geysir, feel the power of Gullfoss waterfall and discover the unique geology and history at Þingvellir.
This minibus tour is an express version of the Golden Circle – giving you a great small group experience of the three most popular attractions in Iceland.
Our fantastic afternoon tour of the Golden Circle begins with our fast and efficient pick up service. We offer pickup from a wide range of downtown locations. Once everyone is aboard, we head out of the city to explore some of the highlights of the South-west of Iceland.
The first stop on our tour is Thingvellir National Park, also known as Þingvellir. This area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has enormous geological and historical significance, as well as importance to Icelandic culture in general.
There are two main reasons that visitors flock to Thingvellir. Firstly, it is the site where the world’s oldest parliament was once located. Secondly, it is where the mid-atlantic ridge crests and the North American and Eurasian continental plates meet in dramatic fashion.
Thingvellir was the first home of the world’s oldest continuous parliament.The parliament that was formed here is known as the Alþingi and meetings were held here between 930 AD and 1798 AD. Viking chieftains and leaders from throughout Iceland would make the long journey to this assembly site once or twice a year to discuss shared matters of common interest and laws. The parliament is now located in the capital city of Reykjavík but Thingvellir still holds a special significance to Icelanders to this day.
The area is best known however for the rift valley located between the American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The plates are drifting apart by upto 2.5cm per year and this can best be seen in a dramatic gorge called Almannagjá which is 7.7 km long. Visitors can walk through a portion of the gorge. Nearby the Silfra Fissure offers divers and snorkelers the chance to explore between the plates.
Nearby is Lake Thingvallavatn, Iceland´s largest natural lake.
After Thingvellir we will make our way to the Geothermal area of Geysir in Haukadalur Valley. This hot spring filled area is named after the “Great Geysir”. It is the first geyser ever mentioned in print and the English word ‘geyser’ actually derives from the Icelandic. This makes it one of the very few Icelandic words that have been adopted in English.
Geysir is thought to have been active for 10,000 years, but activity has almost completely ceased in the past few decades. Luckily nearby is a more active geyser called Strokkur which erupts frequently. Strokkur can be relied upon to erupt every 10 minutes or so. This eruption of boiling water and steam can reach a height of upto 50-60 ft in the air, but has been known to go as high as 130 ft.
We next stop at the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall. Known as the “Golden Falls”, Gullfoss is a large waterfall fed by the Hvítá river, itself fed by meltwater from Langjökull glacier which looms large to the north. The water falls over a series of sections measuring 32 meters in total. As a glacier river, the waterfall is more powerful in the summer. The average flow rate here is 140 cubic meters per second in summer but it has been recorded at a mind-blowing 2000 meters per second.
As the water cascades over the river bed, the mineral composition of the bed creates the shimmering effect from which the name Golden Falls derives. As you approach the waterfall you cannot immediately see the bottom of the falls leaving you with a visual of water seemingly running into a large void into the earth. On a sunny day, the mist spray from Gullfoss often creates a beautiful rainbow.