When we left off at the end of Day 13, we were in the middle of a gale force rain storm. But luckily Day 14 dawned with the skies clearing, and the sun trying to poke out. We were excited for a nicer day, at least for most of it since it was supposed to start raining again late in the afternoon.
As we were coming to the end of our trip, we were trying to move closer to the main city of Reykjavik. That way we’d be ready turn the van back in, and head to the airport. But before we headed all the way back, we decided to do the famous Golden Circle as our 2nd to last day. We weren’t sure if we wanted to do the Golden Circle at all since it’s one of the most touristed areas in all of Iceland. But with the idea we might never be back, we decided to see what all the fuss was about.
The Golden Circle is a term for a circular route that starts and ends near Reykjavik. It runs through a national park, and there’s so many things to stop and see. The tour buses run through this route which contributes the the seriously crowded nature of the area. But we started early with the idea that we wanted to see the site that was most important to us before things got crowded.
There’s a so called ‘off the beaten path’ waterfall called Bruarfoss that’s been gaining popularity because of it’s stunning glacial blue color. It’s not one of the official stops along the Golden Circle, and the directions I found online all described different routes in. So I took along several descriptions in our notes not knowing which one might be the actual route.
We promptly got lost in a maze of roads on the way in, and ended up getting very rough directions from a security guard that patroled the roads of the suburb like area we were lost in. He seemed nothing less than exasperated tracking down wayward tourists like us, and keeping them out of the community of nice homes. He didn’t speak English, so with a series of gestures to the question ?Buarfoss? we were on our way again. (To be fair, there’s very few signs in Iceland ever for the main attractions, and we met lots of other lost people searching for this waterfall.)
When we finally made it to the parking lot, we ended up using powers of deduction to figure out which beaten path to take because there were no signs at all. I would provide as much of a description as I could for you to find it, but they’re right in the middle of constructing signs and route in now. So any directions I would provide wouldn’t be up to date anymore. They’re seeing so much traffic to this waterfall, they’re working on making an official route so the people who live in the area aren’t being overrun with lost tourists anymore.
It was a bit of a slog to get in to see Bruarfoss. While it’s not that far, we were squelching through mud 6″ deep. But it was all worth it though when we took our first look at this absolutely stunning waterfall, (See photos 1 + 2). The dark nature of the rocks combined with the unreal color is really breathtaking. By the time we finally found it, there were already a few photographers set up on the bridge and taking photos. I found a spot to set up and joined them, while Tyler took off to get out of the way enough to fly the drone.
The sun came and went from behind the clouds and I spent the better part of an hour waiting for the right light. More and more photographers kept arriving until I looked around and calculated there must be hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cameras lined up. And it was at this point, one guy decided he wanted up close photos in the river. So he waded in right in the middle of the waterfall and proceeded to take photos for the next hour.
Everyone figured he’d get a photo then get out of the way to be respectful to everyone else, but no… I timed it and he was in the middle of the waterfall for a full hour. Every time he waded back out to change his camera lens, we all took photos like crazy, then minutes later he’d wander right back in the middle of everyone’s photo. Finally we gave up and left wanting to see more sights, since he seemed like he might just stay in everyone’s way for the unforeseeable future. I’m actually a little surprised one of the enraged people from the shoreline didn’t head out there and pound him a little!
From Bruarfoss, we headed towards the famous Geysir. If we thought we’d already had our patience tested by the Bruarfoss experience, it was really only beginning. The Golden Circle is crazy busy, and if you’re not used to intense crowds with people loosing their cool, and lines everywhere 30 minutes long, it’s going to be a rough day. We knew going in it would be busy, and tried to go in with a anything goes mindset, but it was still a patience testing kind of day.
We really lucked out all day long managing to snag great parking spaces in overfull lots. I still have no idea how that ended up happening, but we saw a lot of people circling and fighting over parking spaces. And don’t even get me started on the bathroom situation, just be prepared to wait!
After parking at Geysir, we meandered up with several hundred other people to wait for the next eruption. And while it was cool, being packed in like sardines didn’t really make it a great experience. Also after having spent some time in Yellowstone, we didn’t find the Geysir very interesting. Obviously this is just our perspective based off our particular experience, so hopefully you’ll have a better one.
From there things started to get better because it was getting late in the day as we made our way towards the famous Gulfoss, (otherwise known as the pie shaped waterfall). The weather was really starting to get bad by the time we arrived with gusting winds and the rain was picking up. So we put the cameras into our dry bags again, and headed out.
The waterfall was stunning, and we got a few photos in between wiping down the front of the lens which was drenched in just seconds. The rain broke for a few minutes which really helped with the camera continually getting wet from the waterfall mist. Rain plus mist is a bit much to beat, and it’s really hard to get a photo when your lens is always getting blurry from so much water!
As the day started to come to an end we headed towards the Kerio Crater to finish out the day. We had planned on stopping at the hot spring along the route, (the Secret Lagoon) but we were really running out of time at this point. So we headed towards the crater to get a few more photos before calling it a day.
After the crater we headed towards a little town south of Reykjavik for our last night in the van. We found a camping spot and finally made some food! I made a pasta with creamy tomato sauce and sautéed veggies, as well as rice noodles with a red curry veggie sauce to take with us on our final adventure on Day 15. We also started in on the packing situation since we’d have to turn the van in the next day, after our morning hike.
And finally after 14 days, we actually went to bed early with a full stomach at a semi decent time, with the alarm set well before dawn the next day. We really struggled on this trip to get any sleep, and we missed more meals than I can count because we were on a ‘day and night’ sight seeing schedule, (a problem of our own making of course). But we really appreciated the rain on this evening so we could actually slow down and get some sleep! We’ll see you next on Day 15 for our final full day in Iceland.