ICELAND | The Golden Circle

March 2017:

Overview:

Before you go:

Car rental:

First and foremost, a 4×4 is an absolute essential in an Icelandic winter. The weather changes very quickly and the climate drastically differs depending on where you are on the island. Whilst comparing we noticed the price was between £300-£800 for 5 days. We rented a Subaru mid range from GEYSIR  at the lower end of the bracket. It was perfect for snowy roads but not good enough for off- roading.  We saw big 4×4’s get stuck in the snow, beware!

To Pack:

Sunglasses – I forgot mine and had to buy some in a souvenir shop as the sun was reflecting brightly off the snow and I could barely open my eyes!

Boots with strong grip -I wore Dr Martens and seemed to be steadier than those in walking boots.

Waterproofs – To go near those waterfalls.

Warm waterproof coat – If you spend money on one things, let it be this.

A camera tripod – For those epic photos. We brought a gorilla grip but it just wasn’t good enough.

Layers – I bought the whole range of heat tech from uniqlo, I wouldn’t say it was essential, but it felt good.

Useful websites and Apps:

Www.vedur.is: Icelandic weather app- we used this constantly to check the snow, temperature and Aurora forecasts

http://www.road.is: Road closures are a regular occurrence, check on this site before you start your journey.

Aurora App: Receive notifications when the Northern lights are likely to be visible, we used this a lot but the accuracy is not 100%

112 App– This to to be rescued by emergency services based on your gps location. We didn’t use this in end but the thought did cross my mind when we were caught in a the biggest blizzard in 100 years.

Stay:

Arbakki Farmlodge guest house – Stay in a traditional little red cabin at a family owned farm lodge, we were very grateful to receive true Icelandic hospitality. The thermo heated hot tub was the best, we sat outside and watched the stars in complete darkness and silence.

Little Geysir Hotel – Understatedly chic hotel conveniently situated next to Geysir.

Eat:

Geysir lodge – This is in the Little Geysir hotel

Little Geysir restaurant –  Chic and peaceful place, located in the Little Geysir hotel. We ordered the traditional tasting platter to start with Geysir baked rye, herring, cured lamb and Syre- so delicious. And for main, we both had reindeer burger, nice but I wouldn’t opt for this again.

See:

Geysir: The highly active Geysir Hot Spring Area has boiling mud pits, exploding geysers and the lively Strokkur which spouts water 30 meters every few minutes. Geysir was crowed and it was difficult to get a photo without people walking in front of you so we walked further up the hill to avoid. Make sure you get your camera on a fast shutter speed or you will miss it. Try and go as early as possible to avoid crowds.

Gullfoss: Aka golden falls. Take time to walk the whole way around as it’s the biggest waterfall in Iceland, the views are amazing from all the viewing spots. As it was so big and spread out you can get lots of great crowd free photos.

Gaifoss: The tallest waterfall in the south west situated on top of a mountain. It looked close on the map but the google route was 1.5 hours. An hour into the snowy drive we began to ascend into the mountains and we barely passed any cars until we turned for the last 10km and there was no road at all but a single lane of 4×4 tracks. We looked at each other concerned but carried on up the mountain. From then on I was gripping on to the sides of my seat and closing my eyes, hoping we wouldn’t get stuck. 2km to go and we see the 4×4 in front of us stuck in the snow, we offer our help but they already called to be rescued. We got off that mountain as quick as we could, I wouldn’t  recommend taking these risks,  if they hadn’t got stuck first it would have been us, alone, on top of the mountain. I’m sure it’s a lovely waterfall when there is no snow!

Hairy Horses – They are everywhere you can’t miss them. They also stay very still, I wondered if they were frozen.

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