þingvellir National Park & The Golden Circle

þingvellir National Park & The Golden Circle

More on Iceland:

Skaftafell & The Icelandic Southern Coast

Reykjavik

The three primary places to photograph while driving through the Golden Circle are the Þingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss Waterfall, and the Geyser Strokkur.

þingvellir National Park

 Aurora Borealis, Iceland

Aurora Borealis, Iceland

The þingvellir National Park is a pleasant place to visit. It can be a bit challenging to find lodging, but one location of recommendation is Ion Adventure Hotel. I advocate for it because of its proximity to the National Park as well as its the lack of surrounding ambient light which, gives it a prime location for photographing the aurora borealis. The downside is that there is a power plant near it and you will certainly get sick of the smell of sulfur.

 þingvellir National Park

þingvellir National Park

 

The Þingvellir National Park is larger than expected and challenging to drive through depending on the time of year that you visit. During the winter months, the wind will be intense and the snow covered in snow-- in some places, the road is not even visible. Be wary of driving here especially if you do not have a 4x4 as you will witness many people skid out into the snowy banks.

 þingvellir National Park

þingvellir National Park

 

The main entrance to the National Park provides parking and a small hike that gives you a full view of the centrally located church. 

 Church, þingvellir National Park

Church, þingvellir National Park

Interesting facts about the role of religion in Iceland:

"Paganism was widely accepted from the beginning of the settlement period, though some settlers were almost certainly Christian. Icelanders worshipped the old Gods with sacrifices. At the same time, the practice of Christianity was spreading in neighbouring countries.
Before the year 1000, various attempts at spreading Christianity to Iceland were made with varying results, but the pagan practices still held fast.

Then in the summer of 1000, a great event happened at the Alþing at Þingvellir. Chaos threatened the young society as the Parliament was split into 2 groups: pagans and Christians. Each faction had its own Law Speaker and refused to acknowledge the laws of the other side.  The two Law Speakers agreed that Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, the pagan Law Speaker, should decide which religion all Icelanders should follow.  Þorgeir hid away for a night and a day then walked to the Lögberg and declared publicly that Icelanders should take up Christianity, though pagans, he said, might continue to practise their religion in secret.

Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði's speech marked a turning point in Iceland, and Christianity started making inroads into Icelandic society without resort to weapons or bloodshed.

Christianity made it easier for foreign cultures to enter Iceland, and literature started with the teaching of reading and writing. The first church was built at Þingvellir soon after the adoption of Christianity."

It is worth the stop to grab some photographs of the church and the beauty of the National Park.

 þingvellir National Park

þingvellir National Park

 

The loop that you do in the golden circle will take all day. Starting in Þingvellir the drive to the geyser will take about three hours. There are some interesting sights along the way including photographing one of Iceland's many geothermal power plants.

 Geothermal Power Plant, Iceland

Geothermal Power Plant, Iceland

Geyser, Strokkur

The Geyser, Strokkur, has a small rest stop built around it and after parking, you will walk about five minutes north of the road. There is a high level of anticipation and thrill sitting and waiting for Strokkur to explode. It occurs around every 5-10 minutes and if you are lucky enough to be there during the sunset you can get a nice glow from the sun behind the geyser.

  Geyser, Strokkur

Geyser, Strokkur

  Geyser, Strokkur

Geyser, Strokkur

  Geyser, Strokkur

Geyser, Strokkur

GullFoss Falls

The infamous Gullfoss Falls are about 45 minutes from Strokkur, and they have a peaceful calm about them. With the temperature never really going much above freezing during the winter you get these beautiful ice sculptures with water flowing through them.

If I had the opportunity to do it again, I would spend the night at the hotel near the falls and try and catch the northern lights above Gullfoss.

 Gullfoss, Iceland

Gullfoss, Iceland

 Gullfoss, Iceland

Gullfoss, Iceland

 Gullfoss, Iceland

Gullfoss, Iceland

 

Travel tip:

  • All three locations are going to have an incredible amount of tourists so try and get there early. Most of the tourists buses start at around 1030 so as long as you get out to one of the locations before then, you should be ok. 
  • Travel conditions change drastically! Ended up getting caught in a snow storm on the way back and it was not easy to get home so be very conscious of the weather!

Photography tip:

  • For the geyser bring your tripod and manually focus before the geyser explodes. 
  • Set it up to take a burst or a shot every one second because it can be hard to get the right timing on it. 
  • Bring a tripod for Gullfoss as it a distant shot.

Gear

  • Canon 5DSr
  • Canon 6D
  • Canon 24-70mm ƒ2.8 L II
  • Canon 70-200mm ƒ2.8 IS II
  • Canon 24mm ƒ1.8 I
  • Mefoto Tripod

If you're looking for outdoor gear check out BackCountry (Link Below) I grab all of my gear from them

Non-profit highlight

Worldwide Friends was founded in 2001 as a non-profit, non-governmental organization promoting peace, friendship and international understanding.

They host short-term voluntary work camps, mid and long-term voluntary projects (3-8 months), youth exchanges, educational programs and campaigns in Iceland. 

Mission: Promoting inter-cultural learning, exchange and awareness. Preserving Icelandic nature and raising awareness about environmental issues. Promoting voluntary work and a culture of volunteering.

Check out their Facebook page Here

 

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

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