The third day of our adventure was probably our most adventurous/spontaneous day of our trip.
We originally set off to see Iceland’s most famous waterfall, Gulfoss, and stumbled upon 3 completely unplanned but super cool things on our drive.
About an hour into our drive from Reykjavík we saw a bunch of cars in a parking lot on the side of the road. Mind you were in the middle of nowhere and Iceland only has a 1/4 of a million people so if you see that many cars in one place you know something is going on. When we pulled into the lot we found out that we arrived at Kerid Crater. It’s a $4 entrance fee to walk around the crater which has a lake (looks more like a pond) in the middle. Since we went in the fall, the red and green colors of the land mixed with the blue and green lake was awesome but it was SUPER windy. If you’re a nerd like me, you look into the geographical history of it. The crater is a part of Iceland’s Western Volcanic Zone. They believe it use to be a volcano that collapsed in on itself and the water at the bottom is equal to the water table, not from rainfall which is neat.
After Kerid, we saw a few wild horses on the side of the road and pulled over. Believe it or not, this was one of our favorite parts of the trip. They’re a lot smaller and have a thicker coating than horses in the States for obvious reasons and they are SO friendly but also a little timid. When we ran up (out of excitement) we initially scared them off but they soon warmed up. We fed a few of them and all were gentle besides one. If you get a chance to pull over and experience this DO IT. The horses are fenced off so they don’t run onto the road but I love animals so it was such a great moment for me.
Our third spontaneous stop was Geysir also known as “The Great Geysir”. If you couldn’t guess by the name, it was a geyser we saw there. Honest to god we were just following directions, driving along the road and BAM so many cars and buses, shops to the left, and steam rising from the right. It was a perfect place to stop for a restroom and lunch break. There’s a bunch of mini geysers and steam in the area. Geysir however will erupt every 5-8 minutes so you just have to be patient and have your cameras ready. Make sure you stand behind the rope though cause the water is obviously boiling hot and it goes at least 60 feet in the air.
On the windows of the shops across the street they have a lot of history of the Geysir written on them (me being a dork once again read them). Geysers are rare and Geysir was the first one found and described in modern text. You can see the difference in the spellings because all geysers were named after Geysir and they changed the i to an e to differentiate between them.
Okay ANYWAY, it’s a cool place to stop. How many times are you going to see a geyser in your life?! Probably never so check it off the bucket list and see the first one ever recorded.
After all this we finally made it to our original destination in the first place – Gulfoss. There’s not to much to say about it because well, the pictures speak for itself. There’s a few steps to climb down to and you can walk up pretty close just be careful cause it is slippery and COLD – so bundle up. Explore the whole area, you can also see a HUGE glacier in the mountains from afar too. It’s Iceland’s most famous and popular waterfall for a reason so seriously don’t miss it.
After leaving Gulfoss, we really had an adventure. We planned on seeing Gjain and Haifoss but our little car could NOT handle the challenge of the off roads. It was a bummer because Gjain and Haifoss are distant and in the middle of nowhere so we had an hour long drive there just to turn around.The entrance to Gjain at least had a sign that said 4 wheel drive only but we learned the hard way at Haifoss. On the bright side, I have some hilarious videos of Devin driving along the super bumpy road and she’s a boss for doing it. YOU GO DEV. If you have a 4 wheel drive rental car, please go experience it for me. Haifoss especially looks amazing so I personally was super bummed. The drive there was obviously also amazing but then again all the views are.
Have you ever seen a prettier PB&J?!
After being bummed about not seeing Haifoss or Gjain, we went home and decided to give the northern lights another try. We went back to Thingvellir (I’m not joking when I said we went there every day) and parked our car at the park office. It was a really cloudy night but I stepped out of the car and there were two streaking lines that looked different from the other clouds, almost like a grayish green. I told Devin and my mom it was them but they thought other wise. Two minutes later a few British guys get out of a car parked near us and say that they are the northern lights. I think we were all initially disappointed because we expected these big, bright, beautiful dancing lights before us.
The streaks weren’t that green when we were actually standing there. My Nikon actually picked up a lot more of the green since I had it on a long exposure and a high ISO. Not until we looked at my camera were we like WOAH those really are them. Within the next 5 minutes, two northern light tour buses pulled up and dozens of people poured out to stare at the lights you could barely see because of the clouds. These tour buses honestly made our night. The drivers were so kind they gave us the best hot chocolate I’ve honestly ever had and homemade, heart shaped ginger cookies. The one driver, Atley, talked to us the whole time (cause we’re a better time than his tour group) and gave us a whole insight on the northern lights and Iceland. He was SO helpful and I’m naming my first born son after him so sorry in advance to my future husband.
(Thanks for the hot coco and ginger snaps Atley)
He helped us properly pronounce Reykjavík, gave us a 101 history and political course on Iceland, and told us dumbfounding stories about tourist breaking rules and getting hurt/in trouble for doing so. He also told us that the northern lights stay in those long strips of greenish/gray clouds and then they get brighter and brighter and they burst like an explosion and that’s when they start dancing in the sky. We couldn’t really experience it that night due to the cloud but I got an okay picture of them dancing. If you’re thinking about doing a Northen Lights tour, do it with Atley. He was the one who convinced me to write a blog and he was one of the best parts of the trip. Also I think it’s super important to interact with the local people in order to fully understand the culture of where you’re visiting. He gave a different point of view and I really enjoyed all his input.