Kerið Crater: Wrapping Up Our Golden Circle Adventure #keridcrater #goldencircle #iceland #travel

We departed Gullfoss with the intention of stopping at two more attractions before calling it a (full) day. At some point, after purchasing Rick Steve’s Iceland guide a few years ago, I had circled Selfoss on the map of the Golden Circle. Instead of reading the description while deciding what places we would stop at during our trip, I had become convinced it must be another waterfall because it ended in “foss.” Turns out there’s a river, but no falls, at Selfoss. It is, though, a nice place to stop for a meal, which we did. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

On the route to the crater

The route from Gullfoss to the crater offers the option of veering off-course a bit to visit a hot spring or or thermal pool, but we had decided to not spend out limited time soaking in the waters of Iceland. Instead, we made our way to the Kerið volcanic crater in the town of Grímsnes.

Kerið volcanic crater as viewed from the upper paths

As with many of the sites you can visit in Iceland, there are multiple paths to choose from to view the main attractions. The fee for visiting Kerið is collected at a small kiosk where you receive a colorful brochure with a description of the crater and some of its history. From the kiosk, we followed the trail that led above the crater.

The water in the crater looks unnatural in its blue-hue, and its worldly aura is enhanced by the red volcanic dust of the surrounding hillside patched with moss and grass.

The crater does not require a long visit, but the climb is steep and fatigue was setting in by then for us. We walked a bit around the top, then headed halfway down before we decided we did not need to walk the lower perimeter. I found myself irked by the tourists throwing stones into its depths and we both decided to call it a day.

A stunningly beautiful pool, the Kerið volcanic crater is well worth a short stop.

Later, I realized my husband and I had neglected to take a selfie together at the crater, which had become our habit at the attractions we stopped at in Iceland, but I had taken one of myself over the crater, then later of Dave when we stopped at Selfoss to see the waterfall have dinner.

A long day, well spent with a tasty meal at the end

Our day around the Golden Circle was long, but full of beauty and awe. It was, indeed, a day to remember, but we still had a lot to see. For our third day in Iceland we made plans to set out along the South Coast.

To be continued…

The Golden Circle: Pingvellir Park #Iceland #travel #goldencircle

Pretty much everyone who travels to Iceland to see its natural wonders takes a journey around the “Golden Circle.” At just under 200 miles (300 kilometers), the route begins and ends in Reykjavik as it circles northeast into the interior of Iceland. Along the route, you can view many of the natural wonders the country has to offer, including: waterfalls, geothermal fields and hot springs, an active geyser, a crater filled with the bluest possible water, and walk along the rift where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are increasingly separating. It’s well worth a day to explore.

Driving into the Golden Circle

We began our second day in Iceland around 10:30am local time. Having stopped at a Bonus market in the capital the day before, we had enough food to get us through lunch. After a breakfast of eggs and rye bagels (to my dismay, the favored flavor of bread products in Iceland appears to be rye), we put together a couple of sandwiches (thankfully on wheat bread), packed them alongside apples and trail-mix, filled our water bottles with sulfur-laced water (I know there’s not supposed to be sulfur in the cold water in Iceland, as it comes from a different source, but we could still smell and taste it), packed up our rain gear, and headed out to our tiny rental car.

Entering Pingvellir Park

It doesn’t get dark in the summer in Iceland, so we knew our only limits to the length of our days were our own internal body clocks. Despite our daughter’s repeated insistence (from back home in New Hampshire) that we witness the midnight sunset, we never quite made it to that hour.

The edge of the Pingvellir park. There are many signs indicating not to walk on the fragile landscape, but alas they are not alway heeded.

We took the clockwise route around the Golden Circle, heading out from the city towards Pingvellir Park. The hour ride to the park is beautiful, as I’m pretty sure all drives are through Iceland. The day offered us a mix of sun, clouds, light rain, and a fair amount of fog on the higher elevations, which only enhanced the other-worldly feel of the landscape. I found myself ever-grateful that I was the passenger in the car, able to peer into the misty mountains to make out the shapes of dragons and other mystical beings. Iceland is a land where one cannot help but believe in magic. It’s my kind-of place where wonder is around every corner.

The view driving away from Pingvellir

Unfortunately, I was too busy losing myself in the landscape to capture the mystical beasts that caught my eye (you may get a glimpse of a dragon on the last day of our journey), so you’ll just have to imagine traveling along their green backs as you ascend into the mist. Then, take a pause for a breath and a small gasp as you make your way down their tails and discover their expanse, note the tiny dots of sheep parading up their wings, and the wrap of their tails around houses that look like they belong in the land of Lilliput.

Inside Pingvellir there are miles of trails

We arrived at Pingvellir close to midday, but easily found a parking space in one of the pay-to-park lots amid the other tourists. Summer in Iceland is busy, but we found the flies that greeted our arrival to the park more bothersome than the crowds. Pingvellir covers many acres, but most people walk along the tectonic rift only as far as the gorge. We carried on quite a bit further to see some of the other natural wonders and views. Click through the slideshow below for sites we saw during our stay at the park.

We probably spent 1.5 hours total in the park, walking the trail that leads down the rift towards the gorge and to the Oxararfoss waterfall, then turning back, meandering through side trails to the gift shop and bathrooms. After purchasing souvenirs of Icelandic chocolate and a deck of rune cards, along with an Icelandic carbonated soda that appeared to be flavored in sulfur instead of elderflower, we made our way to the car to eat our packed lunches.

Pingvellir Park can easily be a day trip in itself, or more, but an hour or two will allow you to see the highlights.

Soon we were on our way to our next stop on the Golden Circle: Geysir.

Stay tuned…