Southwest Iceland … Hengill, Thingvellir and getting steamy here: enjoying Iceland’s smoking fumaroles, lava fields and mighty tectonic gorges during a calm winter spell

During a short trip to Iceland back in December 2015, yes I frequented a bar or two in the capital Reykjavik (although my purse is still recovering from that night), yes I completed the famous Golden Circle tour, and yes I visited that infamous penis museum. But, sadly no I didn’t see the northern lights, no I didn’t swim with whales, and no thanks to the weather, I didn’t get as close as I would have liked to the stunning Gullfoss waterfall.

Below are a collection of images I captured during that trip featuring some of Southwest Iceland’s stunning natural beauty when the gale-force Arctic winds were not trying to blow the camera out of my hands. Enjoy.

Snow and lava fields, Hengill Valley

Snow and lava fields, Hengill Valley

Letting off steam: fumaroles spewing steam from the dormant volcanic ground of Hengill Valley

Letting off steam: fumaroles spewing steam from the dormant volcanic ground of Hengill Valley

Hengill, fumarole and people

Hengill, fumarole and sunrise

Sunrise at eleven o'clock in the morning

Sunrise at eleven o’clock in the morning

Hengill, between peaks

Hengill, sun touching mountain peaks

Flying west back towards Reykjavik over Hengill Valley and the volcanic crater. The two humped funnel of Hengill can be seen in the distance

Flying west back towards Reykjavik over Hengill Valley and the volcanic crater. The two humped funnel of Hengill can be seen in the distance

Hengill's volcanic funnels, several hundred metres wide and presently dormant. Who knows when they will erupt again

Hengill’s volcanic funnels, several hundred metres wide and presently dormant. Who knows when they will erupt again

The tracks of lava flows

The tracks of lava flows

Þingvellir (pronounced, and often spelt as 'Thingvellir')

Þingvellir (pronounced, and often spelt as ‘Thingvellir’)

Winter's coming you say? I think it has already arrived. The Alamanngja gorge at Þingvellir has featured in Game of Thrones, but strangely not as 'The Wall'. In the real world the gorge was the location for Iceland's first parliament over a millennium ago

Winter’s coming you say? I think it has already arrived. The Alamanngja gorge at Þingvellir has featured in Game of Thrones, but strangely not as ‘The Wall’. In the real world the gorge was the location for Iceland’s first parliament over a millennium ago

During the Middle Ages a number of rivers and lakes around Þingvellir were used to drown women suspected of being witches. They were tied up in sacks and held under the water. The River Oxara here flowing through the Alamanngja Gorge and close to where parliamentary assemblies were held, is believed to have been used occasionally for such a punishment

During the Middle Ages a number of rivers and lakes around Þingvellir were used to drown women suspected of being witches. They were tied up in sacks and held under the water. The River Oxara here flowing through the Alamanngja Gorge and close to where parliamentary assemblies were held, is believed to have been used occasionally for such a punishment

Þingvellir national park, Thingvellir, forzen Oxara river with Eurasian tectonic plate

Although Þingvellir is steeped in Icelandic history, most visitors come here mainly to see the close proximity of the Eurasian (left) and North American (right) tectonic plates. The plates move further away from each other by up to 18mm a year, creating up to 18mm more Icelandic territory in the process

Although Þingvellir is steeped in Icelandic history, most visitors come here mainly to see the close proximity of the Eurasian (left) and North American (right) tectonic plates. The plates move further away from each other by up to 18mm a year, creating up to 18mm more Icelandic territory in the process

Þingvellir national park, Thingvellir, Alamanngja

Useful information

I reached Hengill Valley by helicopter which is probably the easiest, quickest and safest way to reach the geothermal fields and volcanic crater of Hengladir. The flight and tour wasn’t cheap (I booked the hour long Geothermal tour organised by the Reykjavik based company Nordurflug), but the whole experience was absolutely memorable and was well worth the extravagance.

Please note – I have not received payment or any other incentive for mentioning Nordurflug here, and they haven’t approached me to promote them on this website. I am mentioning them here only out of experience.

Þingvellir is one of the three main attractions along Iceland’s famous Golden Circle and almost every Golden Circle tour will stop off at this location. It takes just over an hour by car to reach from Reykjavik if driving clockwise around the Golden Circle route. Take Route 1 north out of Reykjavik towards Monsfellsbaer. From there, take Route 36. When you near the location, there will be signposts for it. The geysers of Geysir and the Gullfoss waterfall are a further hour’s drive from Þingvellir.

TLT x


Sunrise at eleven o'clock in the morning

Reykjavik, the Golden Circle and that penis museum (a short video)

 

 

 

 


More 'foreigners' freely crossing from Europe (left) to North America (right)

Entering North America without a passport or visa via Iceland’s Bridge Between Continents

 

 

 

 


 

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