On July 20 the official self-guided trip was over, so I chose where to go. We went to Valahnuamol point. On the way we stopped at Krýsuvík geothermal area. The colors there are magnificent. The solfatara fields of Krýsuvík are near the center of Hafnarfjörður. We saw steaming volcanic vents and boiling hot springs, framed by multi-colored hills. A boardwalk winds through the bubbling and hissing geothermal area, with signage explaining the geology.
Areas like this are national treasures. There are signs saying stay on the paths. It was upsetting to see footprints in some places. Those prints will not go away.
July 19 was titled landscapes of the ring road in our itinerary. We were booked to tour a lava cave at Vidgelmir Cave at 2:00 PM. The tour was led by a tall British lad. That day we covered 962.9 km (598.3 miles). We had to rush to get to the cave in time and we left out seeing Blonduos birdwatching area, Borarvirki basalt strata and ruins, Hvitserkur Rock Stack, Hvammstangi hot springs before the cave, Reykholt historical sight, and Borg a Myrum church and farm after.
Víðgelmir is a lava tube situated in the Hallmundarhraun lava field (formed around 900 AD) in west Iceland, around 2 km southeast of Fljótstunga farm in Hvítársíða, Borgarfjörður. The roof of the lava tube has collapsed, creating two large openings near its north end which are the only known entrances. Víðgelmir is 1585 m long and the largest part of the cave passage is 15.8 m high and 16.5 m wide, making it by far the largest of its kind in Iceland. The cave has a wide entrance but narrows down in some places. An iron gate was installed at the first constriction in 1991 to preserve those of the delicate lava formations or speleothems which hadn’t already been destroyed. Evidence of human habitation, probably dating to the Viking Age, has been discovered in the cave and is preserved in the National Museum of Iceland. Long stretches of the cave floor are very rough and shouldn’t be navigated without a guide. Access and guided tours are provided at nearby Fljótstunga.
Lava tubes are formed when a low-viscosity lava flow develops a continuous and hard crust which then thickens and forms a roof above the molten lava stream. When the eruption subsides, the still-molten lava moving beneath the crust will continue to drain downhill, leaving an open lava tube.Many other lava tubes have been discovered in Hallmundarhraun, most notably Surtshellir and Stefánshellir. (souce: Víðgelmir – Wikipedia)
At one point the guide asked us to turn off the lights and asked for a minute of silence. A few of the tanagers couldn’t do it for a minute and giggled. Interesting how our brains can still see a non existent shadow of our hands.
I kept seeing round hills with nipples on top. I wonder if that is a natural volcanic feature or did the ancients have an erotic sense of humor and place stones on top of the mounds.
I didn’t take any pictures so the link will have to do for pictures and information about the Myvatn Baths. Marc said he didn’t want to go but when we there I think he secretly enjoyed it. We had our bathing suits and had to take naked showers before we went in. The water was gloriously warm but there was a smell of sulfur which was a little off putting. We floated in an Infinity pool overlooking the valley. Many people had alcoholic drinks while soaking. We didn’t bother buying anything there. I had to cut the baths short so we only spent an hour and a half there.
Mývatn – Wikipedia tells about the area’s lake, volcanism, birds and flora. We had no time to see that because we had tickets to a boat trip in Hussavic (next post).
July 15 will take 4 days to cover. We drove south to Vik. The Hotel Katla was just past Vik. The wind was almost gale force and it was raining hard when we arrived at the hotel.
The first picture isn’t a painting it was the view from our room. The wooden plaque hangs in many restaurants in Iceland. The lamb is so tender and sweet. We ate it often while there (See Waterfalls – Sherry Felix – port4ufor information about sheep).
After breakfast we went back to black sands beach. It was a treat to see a Black-tailed Godwit – a life bird from the car on the way.
After the Ice Cave we set off for the boat trip in a Glacier Lagoon. I took pictures along the way (second set of images) as we drove by Katla Geopark (check the Katla link to see all the things there are to see by in Iceland’s largest glaciated area). Also see this brochure about Katla.
Tomorrow I’ll cover the Katla Ice Cave trip that started from Vik.
Geysir (Guide to Iceland) Geysir (Wikipedia) is a huge tourist attraction in the Golden Circle in Southwestern Iceland (coordinates 64°18′49″N 20°17′58″W). We went there on July 14, 2021. It was a very atmospheric with misty rain, clouds in the sky, and lots of steam. There are wonderful colors in the ground and water from the minerals.
Geysir geothermal area is stupendous as you can see by the pictures. It’s very touristy and there are huge buses loads of tourists coming to see it, but I didn’t feel crowded. I had to pop in and see the huge gift shop. We did not need to eat lunch there because I had bought a lovely loaf of fresh baked bread in town the day before and some cheese and butter. I had a collapsible cooler for lunch food for the trip.
The purple Creeping Thyme (Thymus praecox) is called blóðberg in Icelandic meaning bloodstone.
Driving around the Golden Circle took us all of July 14th. The area is so rich in beauty and gorgeous landscapes that I will be breaking the pictures taken July 14th into several more posts.
First we stopped at Thingvellir National Park (this link provides information about the ancient history of the area and some natural history).
“No single place epitomizes the history of Iceland and the Icelandic nation better than Þingvellir by the river Öxará.At Þingvellir – literally “Assembly Plains” – the Alþing general assembly was established around 930 and continued to convene there until 1798. Major events in the history of Iceland have taken place at Þingvellir and therefore the place is held in high esteem by all Icelanders. Today Þingvellir is a protected national shrine. According to the law, passed in 1928, the protected area shall always be the property of the Icelandic nation, under the preservation of the Alþing.
The Þingvellir area is part of a fissure zone running through Iceland, being situated on the tectonic plate boundaries of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The faults and fissures of the area make evident the rifting of the earth’s crust.”
Here is Wikipedia’s Thingvellirinformation. It is such a fascinating place. The geology fascinates me. My major in college was geology. I wish we had more time to explore but we had to push on to other grand sites.