On our trip to Iceland last week, the weather threw us a curve ball, forcing us to change our plans at the last minute. We had booked a trip to the South coast one day, where we were due to explore the waterfalls and black sand beaches, and stop off for a glacier hiking trip.
Unfortunately, due to a storm warning, the trip had to be cancelled.
I won’t lie, I was really disappointed. It had taken me a while to gather the confidence to go glacier hiking and by the time we made it back to Iceland, I was so looking forward to it. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. As my hubby pointed out, it gives us an excuse to go back for a third time!
With an unexpected free day, we began scouting around for something to do instead. There aren’t as many tours and trips available in Iceland during the winter as there are in the summer, for obvious reasons, so the choice was a bit limited.
We settled on taking the Golden Circle afternoon tour, a trip we enjoyed immensely last June, but didn’t think we’d have time to manage on this visit.
It was definitely worth taking the trip for a second time and experiencing the contrast in the weather. You can see some of the pictures from our first visit here, but in mid-February, the lava fields and mountains outside Reykjavik were covered in snow, giving the landscape an even more beautiful, ethereal look.
The tour takes you first to Thingvellir, which is the site of an ancient parliament, first formed in 930AD. It’s also home to the place where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, creating a continental drift in the landscape. There are various rifts and ridges, some of the rifts are full of water and you can scuba dive and snorkel in them; something my husband had done the previous day.
From Thingvellir, the tour goes on to Gullfoss, Iceland’s largest waterfall. This is a truly beautiful place and it was frozen in parts, with much of the path blocked off due to the conditions, although a few brave (or foolhardy) tourists had negotiated the barrier and were taking pictures on the rocks at the head of the falls.
The tour finishes in Geysir, where you can watch the water erupting from Strokkur every few minutes, as in the video below.
The storm warning that cancelled our original tour was definitely deserved, as the wind on the Golden Circle tour was so fierce it was hard to stand up. My hat was a casualty; hubby had to physically stand with his hand on my head whilst I took photos to stop it from blowing away!
He didn’t manage to stop me getting hit in the face with the camera during a particularly strong gust of wind at Gullfoss though! You can hear on the video just how strong the wind was.
We finished the tour by driving back to Reykjavik through a snow storm, in dramatic countryside.
So whilst it’s certainly easier to visit the Golden Circle in summer when the weather is fine and the paths are all accessible, you can’t beat the sheer icy beauty of the landscape in winter under a layer of snow.