Geysers and waterfalls...exploring Iceland!

When we left off in Iceland, the Schwegfam had just engaged in a strenuous and rugged hike on a fault line between two tectonic plates to start our morning. (I kid. At least about the strenuous part.) As soon as we were officially finished with Thingvellir National Park, we loaded back up in our sexy tour van to head off to stop 2, the Haukadalur Geothermal Fields.

We parked a healthy distance away from the activity near a beautiful lodge and cafe, and Dooley, our guide, gave us all extensive warnings about staying on marked paths during this phase of our exploration. Unlike Thingvellir, where we could be a bit more cavalier about said warnings, we actually had to heed him this time - because the ground at the geothermal fields is legitimately boiling. 

Iceland, being a hugely volcanic country, is rife with hot springs and geysers, but something about the rock type or formation in this particular area has concentrated geysers in such a manner that they're clustered and erupt frequently. Emily and I enjoyed the cute little signs...

As she put it, "aww, it's just a little one!"

Geysir itself is the biggest geyser of the group, and is known as the first geyser to ever be discussed in print. As such, its name is the origin for the word. We clustered up with bunches of other people, waiting for the thing to blow...

...and blow it did. We were fortunate to be downwind, but the groups on the other side from us weren't so lucky - the steam and spray splashed for hundreds of feet! The geyser erupts around every five minutes, indicative of just how much activity seethes just under the surface at Haukadalur. 

We stopped for a quick lunch in the café (delish desserts!) before stop #3: Gullfoss, one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland! 

Driving up to the waterfall left me completely in awe of the power of the water. There were all kinds of awesome stories related to the falls, too - they were saved from being turned into a power plant by determined Icelanders once upon a time, and there's a popular Icelandic legend about star-crossed lovers on either side of the racing falls overcoming them to be together. Charming and lovely and just so incredibly Iceland-y. 

Since the day was so nice, we could hike down to the side of the falls...a slippery gravel path that left me feeling a: a little fraidy-cat and b: LESS THAN GRACEFUL as I skidded down. 

At the apex of the peak sticking out into the falls, the sound of water crashing was so loud we could hardly hear each other shouting. We spent a ton of time admiring the double-tiered falls, getting soaked by the spray and marveling at the absurd power and beauty of it all. 

This photo's on the back of the Schwegfam Christmas card this year...stay tuned for a full reveal of the front, it's a gem ;) 

Having enjoyed the up-close and personal view long enough, we returned to the top and admired the view from above...I finally got our resident photographer to pause for a photo! 

Even panoramas don't do the scene justice. It was such big country - almost intimidatingly wide-open, rugged and unspoiled. I've never really been to the western United States apart from ski trips, but that's the only area I can imagine with quite this scale of sheer space.

One more vantage point of the double, you can see the point we hiked down to if you squint! 

After one final stop at a teeny-tiny (by Iceland standards) falls to stretch our legs, we cruised back to Reykjavik, enjoying Dooley's stories of trolls, fairies, and hill houses the whole way. With mountains and volcanoes to admire, the trip flew by...truly an amazing day of exploring Iceland's natural wonders! 

More Scandinavia coming up soon...but if anyone feels like making a return trip to Iceland, let me know! There's so much more to explore and it's all camping out on my bucket list!