Iceland Ring Road: The Best Parts Are Free (Part 3)
The spectacular part about Iceland is that you can see such diverse attractions within short distances of each other.
This was the attraction I was really looking forward to as there are not that many geysir eruptions in the world, so seeing one that erupts is quite rare. In this regard, Iceland visitors are fortunate that the Strokkur geysir’s eruptions take place every 6 – 10 minutes on average, but then, to the delight of spectators, it could surprise you and explode back to back within seconds.
I stood there, along with other visitors, watching the water splash back and forth as it boiled more violently. Full of trepidation, we watched and waited, anticipating the next hydrothermal explosion. We could see the water clashing together as the pressure beneath the surface slowly superheated beyond its capacity, causing a mixture of steam and scorching hot water to gush from the fractured earth’s surface.
What a majestic sight!
The crowd screamed in delight at the sight of this grandiose, spouting hot spring as it hurled scalding water 50 feet in the air, spraying everyone with a light mist of steaming water.
In layman’s terms, this phenomenon can be described as the earth venting. Surface water is heated by magma, creating a reservoir combination of hot water and expanding steam that releases through fractures in the ground’s surface causing what is known as a geysir.
As the water flowed away from the fissure in the earth’s surface, we stuck our hands in the stream to feel how hot the water actually was. To my amazement, it was still sweltering.
There are several other geysirs in the area that do not erupt but instead consist of small ponds of crystal clear, rich blue water which releases steam due to the almost 80-degree temperature.
This attraction is free, as is the parking. There is a restaurant and a gift shop across the road.
We were looking for these famous mud pots as we drove through the Myvatn area in the northern region of Iceland.
We were driving around this bend, and as we came down a hill, all we could see were these incredible-looking mountains covered in snow. Then to the right, we saw steam spouting from these fumaroles and mud pots in what can only be described as something from outer space.
Then came the smell! The fumaroles were these cone-shaped, beehive masses sticking out of the ground emitting steam and gasses from the earth below. The whistling sound as the fractured earth released the pressure, was ear piercing but an astonishing sight to behold.
Side Note: The fumes from the fumaroles are toxic to humans so do not stand in the steam for long periods.
I continued exploring this unusual land freely and came across the mud pots, also known as sulfurous mud springs. These unique creations consist of a bubbling slurry of rock and clay, that has been broken down into liquid form by the acidic ground and various microorganisms. Similar to the fumaroles, these mud springs provided an equally enthralling adventure as I surveyed this eccentric landscape.
The landscape here was incredibly fascinating, with a rich acidic ground that is utterly sterile, meaning that it is incapable of sustaining any kind of floras or plants.
Parking was free. Like other areas, I am sure it will be much busier during the summer.
As we drove along the Ring Road, we came across this iceberg lagoon near the base of the Vatnajokull glacier.
I walked about 5 – 10 minutes before reaching a small hill. As I came to its peak, all I could see was this stunning glacier with a lagoon in front and several icebergs.
I stood there for a few minutes just admiring the scenery as I had never seen anything like it before. The breathtaking views were incredible!
The Fjallsarlon lagoon is smaller than other lagoons, so visitors can see the majestic Vatnajokull glacier behind it, without taking expensive tours or boat rides.
The Vatnajokull is the largest glacier in Europe. It consists of these spectacular ice ridges that form wavy designs as they meet the water below. The beautiful light teal color occurs when the ice compacts and squeezes out tiny air bubbles creating a higher density.
The best part is that we could walk up icebergs as some of them had washed up on the shore. I felt so tiny next to these 8 feet tall, magnificent chunks of ice.
Tours are available for those who want to see icebergs and glacier up close, however the lagoon is relatively small so the majestic glacier and icebergs can be seen from shore.
The whole landscape took my breath away as I stood there appreciating nature in its purest form.
This isn’t a typical stop for tour buses, so it was relatively quiet people-wise. Parking was free, as was visiting the area.
There are several walking trails in the area, which are more accessible in the summer.
The best part of our self-drive around the Ring Road was that I created my own itinerary that could be adjusted as we travelled. There are so many things to do in Iceland; my imagination and internet researching couldn’t do justice to the wealth of adventure the island possesses. Any signs with red writing are attractions. When creating an itinerary, I suggest leaving open time slots for the things you may come across as you freely explore this fascinating country.