In planning our Icelandic excursion, the goal was too see as much as possible in a short five-day time frame. Trying to see the entire country by way of the "Ring Road," would have taken well over a week. Given our time crunch we all decided it would be in our best interest to take the smaller loop, known as the Golden Circle.
The Golden Circle is a self-guided drive which is easily started in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city, and only takes a day to complete. It is comprised of several natural parks for which Iceland has become famous, including Strokkur Geyser, Gullfoss Waterfall, and Þingvellir National Park.
We started our day by splitting into two cars, appointing worldliest among us be the drivers (This turned out to be a fantastic idea, since road signs in Iceland are much different than those in the states.) Navigations prepped and meeting places set, our teams took off to ring around the Golden Circle.
Once we hit the open road we were all shocked by how untouched the Icelandic scenery truly was. Our goal of beating the other car to each destination first quickly gave way to stopping at the best roadside locations for candid photos. Transfixed by the beauty of the landscape, we lost more time than anticipated and eventually each other.
Upon our arrival Stokkur Geyser we were all thankful that we had brought gloves and almost regretted that we didn’t bring towels. Stokkur Geyser has a mind of its own and tended to erupt without warning. This fact worked against the group of tourists next to me, who were suddenly drenched in a shower of hot water. Seeing their fate, I quickly lunged back a pace and very gracefully fell over a rock. Regardless of our unfortunate situations, I learned that geysers are exceedingly good sources of entertainment.
Next stop on our tour was the Gullfoss Waterfall. Even though it was freezing out, it was impossible not to walk into the splash zone. Unfortunately, the day we visited Gulfoss was overcast, but on a sunny day the dramatic changes in elevation are known to produce a rainbow effect at all times.
The final stop on our list, the Tectonic Rift at Þingvellir National Park., turned out to be over an hour from Gullfoss. In keeping with our theme of road-side stops, we found many gems on the way to our final destination! Upon our arrival at the Tectonic Plate, my comrades and I set out to explore as much of the park as we could, and ended up finding our best view of the day!
(Fun fact: this is the site where the Bloody Gate in the Game of Thrones is filmed.)
Our trip around the Golden Circle was the highlight of my trip to Iceland, and I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking to see the wonders of Iceland on a time crunch!