Iceland – March 22, 2016 (Day 6)

Day 6 Drive Map

Day 6 was about following the heavily touristy Golden Circle from Gullfoss waterfall to Seljalandsfoss waterfall covering about 90 miles. Weather was slightly better but still windy and heavily clouded when we hit our first stop, Gullfoss. As a part of the trail was closed with a big warning of ice and slippery surface, we couldn’t go near this multi-stage group of waterfalls that make up the magnificent Gullfoss. We shot a few images from the parking lot.

Gullfoss (64°18’55” N 20°8’25” W)

The second stop was at the Geysir area that is a pico version of the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. Strokkur, a fountain geyser, that erupts every 6-8 minutes to a hight of about 40′ is located here. We stood next to it and saw it erupt 3-4 times. We then walked around the area to see a few fumaroles emitting steam and gases before driving south to the 2nd waterfall of the day, the Faxafoss.

Although it does not measure up to the Gullfoss, Faxafoss (also called Faxi) was pretty. There was a lot of ice surrounding it limiting access somewhat. Although it is on the Golden Circle route, very few tourist buses stopped here. The ones that stopped stayed only for about 5 minutes.

Faxafoss Waterfall in B&W
Faxafoss Waterfall (64°13’32” N 20°20’13” W)
Faxafoss 2
Faxafoss Waterfall

We had heard about Friðheimar greenhouse and attached restaurant and we were anticipating our visit there for a few days. It was about 10 minutes south of Faxafoss and we reached there by noon. The farm has abundant supplies of geothermal water, which provides heat to the greenhouses. The water flows enters the massive greenhouse at about 95°C. The greenhouse consumes about 100,000 tons of water per year! It is lit by artificial lighting necessary to grow the crops all year round. And photosynthesis is enhanced by using carbon dioxide produced from natural geothermal steam. The farm harvests 2 tons of tomatoes each day!!!

Friðheimar Greenhouse (64.178920, -20.449041)

The restaurant is open from Noon to 4pm and serves mostly vegetarian food buffet style. We all had 4-5 servings of the tomato soup and shared a green tomato-apple pie.

Friðheimar Lunch Menu
Having Lunch at Friðheimar Restaurant attached to the Greenhouse

The next stop was the small village of Skálholt. It was, through eight centuries, one of the most important places in Iceland. From 1056 until 1785, it was one of Iceland’s episcopal sees, making it a cultural and political center. Iceland’s first official school, Skálholtsskóli, was founded in 1056 to educate clergy. The new cathedral was built from 1956 to 1963.

Skalholt Cathedral LR
Skálholt Cathedral with a turf house next to it (Photo courtesy of Bala)

After spending about 30 minutes at the Cathedral, we headed to the Urriðafoss waterfall. Although it was on the tourist route, we just saw 2 couples. It was a very good looking falls, definitely worth a visit. The government is planning to build a hydropower station on the lower part of Þjórsár river at Urriðafoss and if that happens the waterfall is expected to disappear.

Urridafoss Waterfall
Urridafoss Waterfall (63°55’30” N 20°40’10” W)

We then headed to the last stop of the day, the grand Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. This is a great spot for shooting sunset but that day it was mostly raining. We just sat in the car in front of it for 15 or so minutes listening to music and just yapping. When the rain subsided, we took a quick walk to see the falls up close and shoot a few images.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

We then reached our hotel (Country Hotel Anna) and checked in. Dinner was served at 730 pm and the cook prepared a vegetarian dinner for all of us. As it was raining and the AB forecast was not that good (I think the Kp index was 2), we went to bed a bit early thinking about Day 7.

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