This morning we'll meet our Explore leader at 8:30am for a welcome meeting and to get excited about the plans for the week. We'll begin by exploring Iceland's major highlights in the Golden Circle, starting with Thingvellir National Park.
Thingvellir translates to 'the fields of parliament' and was once the meeting place of more than 30 clan leaders who came together to reconcile differences and create a united nation after years of turbulent fighting. For this reason Thingvellir plays a very important role in Iceland's heritage but its geology is equally fascinating. The west half of Iceland sits on the North American tectonic plate and the east half sits on the Eurasian tectonic plate and here at Thingvellir is the only place in the world where the Mid-Atlantic Rift can be seen above sea level and we can take a walk between two continents.
We move on to the 'Beauty' of Iceland, Gullfoss Waterfall. Arguably Iceland's most beautiful waterfall, here the water plunges into a deep ravine with tremendous force whilst its mists form colourful rainbows in the sun.
Close by is the Great Geysir. With the claim-to-fame of being the first spouting spring known to Europeans, Geysir has given all such springs their name. However, it is the Strokkur, meaning 'The Butter Churn', which is the main attraction these days, due to its impressive 30 metre eruptions every few minutes.
After some lunch we'll see one of Iceland's tallest waterfalls, Skogafoss. Standing at 62 metres tall it's an impressive sight, and if we are lucky with the light we should spot rainbows in the spray. We'll also stop at the Skogar Folk Museum. This quaint museum is home to 12,000 artefacts as well as life-size examples of traditional Icelandic houses with turf roofs, a church and school.
Seljalandsfoss waterfall is almost as tall as Skogafoss and here, weather permitting, we'll have the chance to walk behind the curtain of water! The pathway shows off the falls from the front, then circles around the back and emerges on the other side. Because of the constant spray the path is always slippy and can be closed in winter when the path freezes over.
Our base for the night is on the outskirts of Vik and we'll arrive here in time for dinner.
Located just a 5-minute drive from Vik's black sand beach, Hotel Katla is a countryside hotel that offers stunning views of the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier. Rooms are spacious & clasically decorated, all including a TV & an ensuite. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi in the lobby, as well as free access to the outdoor geothermal hot tubs & fitness centre. The hotel also has an in-house restuarant that serves a buffet breakfast & local specialities for dinner.