Table of contents for Iceland
So dear friends, I have given an introduction to Iceland in my first post. I hope you are all ready to start your Ghumakkari in Iceland. Iceland is situated North-West of United Kingdom, before Greenland. Towards North Pole, it is the last sovereign country. It is a small Island, if compared to Greenland. Surprisingly the name of Iceland and Greenland was mis-named by ancient vikings. Iceland is quite green and has ice only in the glaciers whereas Greenland is all white with permanent ice in more than 90% of the land. It is said that if all the ice of Greenland melts, low lying countries like Bangladesh, Maldives, parts of Australia etc. will vanish from the map. The total population of Iceland is +3,20,000 only… perhaps Jamuna par in delhi has more population than this LOL. Out of this 3 lakh population, bigger chunk lives in the Capital Reykjavik (Pronounced as रेक्याविक).
Schengen Visa is accepted here hence you dont need an Icelandic Visa if you have Schengen Visa. The route from Delhi is via London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam or Helsinki. It is 3 hours flight from London/Europe.
If you are a real Ghummakkar, it would be advisable to rent a car. Indians can drive here with International DL. a small car (I-10 or Swift) is around $ 120 per day +petrol. Since I had to live here for long, I purchased a second hand Honda CRV, 4 wheel drive, Automatic. GPS is must here otherwise you may end up missing in the glaciers.
The first tour is called “Golden Tour” and it consists of pingvellir (spoken as thing – vetlir), Geysir and Gulfoss. This Golden circle is a 5/ 6 hours journey by tourist buses, but it can actually take the whole day, if you are driving on your own, because tourist buses only stop at fixed places, but there are so many view points in the way that you need a full day to complete this circle.
So on a beautiful morning, after killing the cloud demon and freeing the Sun, we started our journey from Reykjavik and reached pingvellir… a distance of 40 Kms covered in one hour. Pingvellir is the biggest valley in Europe and is on the banks of ping lake, again the biggest lake in Europe.
This valley has two special things. One - Thingvellir occupies a very special place in the hearts and minds of Icelanders. In 930 the Icelandic Parliament was founded there…first ever democracy in the world.
The second part is more interesting. All of us might have heard about the tectonic plates movements…yes the same which caused the rise of Himalayas when Indian plate pushed Tibet plate and Himalayas were formed..
(Image: tectonic fault separating American and European plates)
Ping-valley is the place where we can see movement of these tectonic plates before our eyes. Here the American plate is going away from European plate at the speed of 2.5 Cms per side per years.. means they are ripping apart @ 5 Cms per year. We were really surprised to see how the mountains were cut along the plate lines, like butter is cut with a hot knife. This cracking of earth can be seen all along in Iceland and at place where the gap is quite big, they have erected a bridge, half of which lies in Europe and half in America. So we crossed the bridge and visited America (without visa LOL).
(Image: Walking between the American & European plates…no men’s land. This road has now been closed due to movement of earth and there is a pit going down to Patal-Lok )
ping-valley is a beautiful valley, with lush green meadows, water-falls and a museum. the lake nearby is very deep and people do scuba diving here.
(Image: a beautiful view of ping-valley)
ping-valley becomes more beautiful in winters. See a foto during winters and notice the gap between America and Europe clearly visible.
We left pingvellir after 2 hours enjoyment and travelled for about 70 Kms and reached the 2nd important place called Geysir. The English word “Geyser” has been derived from this place. A wonderful small village (village name is geysir)…have the most wonderful aspect of mother Nature !!
In Geysir there are many holes from which boiled water is oozing out, but the main attraction is the Geysir itself which erupts every 10 minutes and spews out a hot gushing stream of water for about a minute. The stream may reach upto 40-50 feet bringing heat to your face and a smell of Sulphur Dioxide.
See this short film to view the actual geysir gushing out
(Image: a Hot water pool in Geysir……far away people waiting for hot water fountain)
After enjoying the beautiful geysir and munching some veg pizzas, we continued our journey towards Gulfoss, one of the top 10 waterfalls in the world..
(continued in next part…)