Thursday 18 October 2012.
Highlights: Walking on a glacier, The rugged Iceland countryside
The second best day of the trip so far, only just behind riding an Elephant and patting a tiger back in Koh Samui. The day started on a good foot when an enormous 4WD vehicle showed up to collect me, I could tell we were going off road for this one!
The trip started with a visit to Þingvellir National Park, special for being the site of a Viking Parliament that started in the 10th century but also as the point the North American and Eurasia tectonic plates met. They are slowly separating and you can see the ground between then sinking.
We then left the tourist buses between and went further inland using the 4WD’s capabilities to visit the Kaldidalur a barren space from which we could view 4 gigantic (but shrinking) glaciers. A few minutes out in the open and I was glad I bought gloves yesterday and this was a good day for Iceland!
Next stop was a drive onto the Langjökull glacier, the second largest in Iceland. The wind chill factor was too much for all the laying I had in place, I might not survive camping on Antarctica for one night. Luckily I had my sunglasses to both stop me going blind and also to keep the aid of my eyes.
Next we visited lava fields but first had to cross a river, luckily the 4WD didn’t get stuck and I didn’t have to swim for it :). The lava fields make you feel like you are on another planet. The ridges and barren nature of the landscape, it must have been speculator when the lava was flowing. We hiked down into one of the caves, not an easy prospective, I really didn’t want to get injured. The formations inside the cave are very hard to describe, worth a visit.
Next up were the waterfalls at Barnafoss. These waterfalls burst out of the rocks and walls as gaps in the lava. They are feed from the surrounding glaciers and the water seems to be in a big rush. It was here I noticed that despite the cold I felt very thirsty, not sure why but there must be a reason. Bring water to extremely cold places I suppose.
Our last stop was to see the worlds largest hot spring (by volume of water). This water is around 100 degrees when it first emerges. The hot springs are used to power local villages and the heat helps farmers the heat greenhouses and therefore grow food.
Interesting fact is 99% of Iceland’s energy comes from geothermal sources. Another worrying fact is that on average they have major eruptions every 4 years and a few volcanos are overdue. So despite the recent eruptions they are expecting even more.
The drive back was also enjoyable, it gave me a chance to look at the beautiful countryside. If you go to Iceland it’s worth leaving Reykjavik, in fact it’s a must. Reality back at the hotel meant I had to do washing and book an airport transfer for tomorrow at 4.30 am 😦