One of the guided tours I took part in during my trip to Iceland is known as The Golden Circle Tour, which takes in the Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir and Thingvellir National Park (these last two will feature in later posts).
Before we reached our first stop on the itinerary however, we took in a greenhouse that is managing to produce tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables by harnessing Iceland’s geothermal energy. We had a very interesting talk from a member of staff who explained her usual routines and exactly how they manage to produce such good crops (Iceland not being known for its fruit production!)
One of the interesting things I learned was that around every 2-3 weeks they need to import boxes of bees from Holland (we were shown an example of one – with bees inside!), in order to pollinate the crops. Clearly it’s a technique that is working very well for them.
After this we moved to Gullfoss, a massive waterfall on the River Hvita, (in English its name translates as Golden Falls). It is actually two waterfalls, the lower cascade dropping about 22 metres and the upper part 11 metres.
There are many viewpoints along the way that let you take in the stunning view of the waterfall and let you fully appreciate the speed and noise of the water as it cascades down.
One path takes you above the waterfall so you can see the full spread of it and others take you very close to the waterfall itself from a viewing point…
…and then through a walk down a gravel path and up some rocks with only a knee-high rope between you and the waterfall.
Although well looked after now, this was not always the case and there were real concerns that it would be used to generate electricity and a whole power plant built on the site; thankfully this is now out of the question. The main person to thank for that, according to legend at least, is Sigridur Tomasdottir who built the first trail down to the waterfall and threatened to jump in and kill herself if plans to harness the power of the waterfall wasn’t stopped. There is a small sculpture of her profile at the waterfall which you can see below.
It’s an amazing place and I can certainly see why it would inspire such rash devotion. And I was especially lucky to be standing in the perfect spot just as the clouds moved and the sun came out, to capture the rainbow below. I was standing at an outcropping just as we were all turning to go back to our tour bus, so I believe I was the only person in our group who actually saw the rainbow. It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.