Rich in natural travel wonders with large snaking glaciers, weird and wonderful rock formations from the highly active volcanoes, sulphuric thermal pools and waterfalls galore from the melting snow and glaciers, Iceland’s natural beauty, rich Norse legends and easy going nature should put it on the itinerary of any avid traveller.
Expressive and energetic waterfalls seemingly tumble over every rock face in beautiful unaltered settings. Indeed, the word foss (for waterfall) is indelibly engraved in the minds of every visitor to Iceland. Many falls are unnamed yet are sufficiently impressive that many other countries would encompass them into national parks. With a true sense of nature, Iceland leaves their waterfalls au naturel uncluttered with fencing, restrictive paths or concrete viewing platforms. If you are stupid enough to fall into a chasm or step under a geyser, you are free to do so.
Not far from the colourful, peaceful capital of Reykjavik are two of Iceland’s most celebrated natural sights and its most significant historic location. Geysir, which gave the English word geyser for the spouting hot water springs, now lies dormant. Fortunately, for fans of spouting hot springs, neighbouring Stokkur is only a few hundred metres away lying in wait, belching, boiling and bubbling until it launches scolding water around 20 metres in the air every eight to ten minutes.
A couple of kilometres away is the appropriately named Gullfoss (Golden Falls), pictured at the top of this article, which, turning at right angles, cascades in two stages into a narrow gorge below.
Over a thousand years ago, Iceland conducted the first parliament in the world at Þingvellir (where the uniquely Icelandic character Þ is pronounced th). The people met yearly, enacting laws and punishing wrong-doers. Mothers of illegitimate children were drowned in a nearby river. In 1000 AD, the law-makers met and decided that the Icelandic nation, of primarily Viking heritage, would become Christian. The law speaker threw his idols and statues of the Norse deities into Goðafoss, the waterfall of the Gods.
Svartifoss (Black Falls) tumbles over hanging hexagonal basaltic columns like a fountain in church organ pipes. These remarkable columns formed from an extremely slow cooling lava flow.
Europe’s most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss, helps empty the extensive and wild meltwater from Europe’s largest glacier pounding 44 metres into the river below. Meanwhile Skogafoss presents a photogenic symmetric fall elegantly tumbling 60 metres from the coastal Icelandic cliffs into a verdant valley.
Iceland remains an undiscovered treasure trove of wild beauty, left in its most natural state. Enjoy this travel wonder of lava fields, gushing waterfalls, emerald green valleys and twisted tortured rock formations, all continually changing with Iceland’s active geology.