After being extremely lucky to watch the magical aurora borealis dance across the whole sky on our first night in Iceland, we didn’t think anything could come close for the rest of our trip here, but the Super Jeep Tour around the Golden Circle and Snowmobiling across a glacier comes pretty close. If you are researching to visit Iceland you will already know of many tour guides who offer daily excursions usually operating from Reykjavík. The Golden Circle tour is a popular route tourists take to get a brief glimpse into some of Iceland’s most famous but also exciting natural phenomenons, including the ‘The Great Geysir’ – one of only a few in the world.
The Golden Circle Super Jeep Tour
Our Golden Circle Super Jeep Tour was with Mountaineers of Iceland (More info) who own some of the biggest jeeps and trucks I have ever seen with tours running all year round. These guys certainly know how to get across the Icelandic terrain. Every jeep and truck has been specially modified to deal with Ice, Snow, Water crossings, the lot! The Ford Econoline jeep we were in came featured with huge 46″ tyres, that makes this look quite a beast when your ride for the day pulls up outside your hotel! With a step-ladder on hand you’ll soon be in the jeep and ready to go.
Once all guesthouse and hotel pickups are complete, the day starts roughly at 9am where we make our way to the first stop…
Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir is located in an active volcanic area, just 49km east of Reykjavík and is the national shrine of Iceland. It is, for one, a key location in Icelandic history as the oldest existing parliament in the world first assembled there in 930 AD. Þingvellir has for this reason been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As you can see from the photos, the dramatic fissures and cliffs that have formed are great examples displaying the inter-continental drifting between two tectonic plates. Due to this, a spectacular canyon has formed that you can walk through.
Our guide dropped us off at the top of the national park where a newly built visitor centre is located, from here we headed along the mountain tracks towards the Thingvellir Church and off over to Silfra (the famous diving area between the tectonic plates in Iceland) where we were picked up for the next part of the Golden Circle Super Jeep Tour.
The Great Geysir
One of the more famous natural attractions in Iceland that is apart of the Golden Circle Tour is The Great Geysir. Although dormant now, when it was active, the geyser could thunderously blast a spectacular jet of geothermal water and steam up into the air as high as 60 – 80 metres. Unfortunately for us, The Great Geyser isn’t active anymore.. however, there is still so much to see at the Geysir hot springs.
Strokkur, which translates to ‘The Churn’ is now the main attraction of the area. This geyser is only 100 metres south from the Great Geysir that erupts approximately every 10 minutes, so you are pretty much guaranteed an eruption during your visit. Strokkur however, is not as powerful with eruptions just reaching around 30 metres up in the air. Although on paper it doesn’t sound too impressive, it actually was to experience, but definitely not to smell. As you can imagine, the sudden eruption of sulphur dioxide into the air leaves a potent smell behind. As this was our first full day in Iceland, it was something we simply were not used to, but once you’re used to it, it’s barely noticeable. (Okay I’m lying, it pongs! 😉 )
Gullfoss – The GoldenWaterfall
After a lunch break at the Great Geysir, it was off to visit Gullfoss, dubbed as the ‘Golden Waterfall’. The iconic waterfall of Iceland provides breathtaking views where the powerful water plummets down 32 metres in two separate stages into the rugged canyon below. Gullfoss is found on the Hvítá (White) river which is fed by Iceland’s second largest glacier, the Langjökull. You can walk up so close to the edge you can actually feel the glacial water land on your face from being carried through the wind. There’s even a viewing platform that’s been built higher up on the edge to take a better view of the ever impressive waterfall. The wind was bone chilling when we climbed up, just taking my gloves off for a few seconds to take some obligatory selfies was enough for us to head over to the cafe for warmth and a cup of hot chocolate!
There’s a lovely story about how Gullfoss became a nature reserve in 1979 where a lady named Sigriður spent her years trying to preserve the waterfall from an Englishman who tried to begin construction to product electricity from the waterfall. Sigriður’s father had originally rented out Gullfoss for this purpose but luckily, Sigriður managed to spent her life savings on a lawyer to defend her case. This lasted years and in the end the contract was disposed of due to lack of rent payments. Due to the public struggles of Sigriður to keep Gullfoss what it is today, she is often referred to being Iceland’s first woman environmentalist. Her step son later on purchased the land off Sigriður’s father and sold it to the Iceland government who then decided to protect this area and allow all public to enjoy this rather unique area.
Time to step things up a gear. If the Golden Circle Super Jeep Tour wasn’t enough, it’s now time to experience Iceland even closer with a snowmobiling tour on Langjökull, Iceland’s second largest glacier. AWESOME!
We felt safe and secure being in the hands of Mountaineers of Iceland’s trained professionals who’ll brief you on all the key safety measures right after being kitted up in warm overalls and protective gear. There’s no better way to end the day by riding a snowmobile across a glacier 😀 You’ll be able to take in the spectacular views of the highest mountain in west Iceland, Hofsjökull glacier and the Kerlingafjöll Mountain range. Spoilt for choice huh!
The snowmobiles are very easy to operate that come with the very important hand warmers and high wind shields. Even with the most snug warm gloves on, never underestimate the wind chill factor. Balaclavas on, helmet visors down and you’ll still feel the chill, but not to worry it’ll be at the back of your mind once you start taking in the breathtaking views. There’s a chance of a mini break half way through the snowmobiling to take some photos and rest before heading back. After feeling a little more confident getting used to the throttle and control of the snowmobile, I have to confess I did give the throttle a few blips all the way, safe to say I don’t think Kate was very impressed 😛
This was our first day in Iceland, and I have to say it really was a fantastic way to welcome us to the land of fire and ice. We loved every moment from the super jeep tour around The Golden Circle to exploring Þingvellir National Park and of course the snowmobiling!
For more information on the Golden Circle Super Jeep Tour & Snowmobiling, please visit www.icelandtravel.is
Visit their Facebook page for more helpful info, photos and videos.
**PLEASE NOTE – we received a complimentary super jeep tour & snowmobiling courtesy of Iceland Travel / Mountaineers of Iceland, but rest assure all opinions are honest and our own**