The second day of my escape to Iceland started out early as we headed to Kerio. Kerio is a circular lake located in the center of a volcanic crater. Once arriving at the crater we pulled into the small gravel parking lot where a walking path begins leading around the top of the crater. After paying a small $4 entrance fee, we walked around the crater’s top and then took the pathway down to the edge of the lake, which was well worth it to see the intense milky green-blue water of the lake set inside the red slopes of volcanic rock lining the crater’s walls up close.
Our next stop was at Bruarfoss Waterfall. Known as one of Iceland’s secret waterfalls, it lived up to it’s reputation by being very difficult to find. Once we finally found it, I was so glad we had persisted searching because the hunt was all worth it. There is not a formal place to park at Bruarfoss but you can park along Road 37 by the Bruara Bridge. We walked across the bridge and then up an approximately 0.3 mile, slightly steep but muddy path that was lined with beautiful trees, following the marked sign steering us in the right direction. The waterfall’s brilliant blue color runs through the middle of the dark volcanic rock formations surrounded by snowy mountains in the background. The incredible view I had standing there was the same that has been captured on many a desktop screen saver and to actually see it in person was breath-taking.
The next stop along our Golden Circle escape was the very busy tourist stop of Geysir. Geysir is located in an active geothermal area of Southern Iceland where busses bring numerous visitors to the museum, gift shop, restaurants, and geysers. While taking the short walk to the geyser, make sure to look around as many small geysers will bubble up along the path. Prior to the main geyser going off (every 5 to 10 minutes) the blue pool starts bubbling in warning before it blows. This is an amazing sight of nature and evidence of the power of the earth below us. On the way back to the car we stopped at Supa restaurant and I had a tasty bowl of tomato soup that warmed me up from the inside out.
Just a short drive from Geysir is Gullfoss waterfall on the Hvita River. There is an upper and lower parking lot available there. We parked at the upper lot and the view from above is beautiful but we took the path and staircase down so as to get closer to the falls and really see the massive amount of water flowing down the two- stage waterfall. Make sure to wear a waterproof jacket, pants, and shoes for the walk because the spray coming from the water will get you soaked quickly.
Our next few stops are not included in the Golden Circle but very close by. Hjalparfoss is a double waterfall where the rivers Fossa and Thjorsa join into one main fall. To get there we took the gravel lined, rocky road named after the falls not too far off Pjorsardalsvegur Road. There are picnic tables located in the parking lot that overlook the falls revealing a beautiful view. It was a special treat for us because at the time we arrived the area was totally empty with no one else there. We could explore everything without anyone else gettin in our pictures.
I found my favorite destination in Iceland upon arriving at Gjain in the Pjorsardalur Valley. Gjain was once inhabited by the Vikings around the year 1100 and was wiped out by a volcanic eruption from the Hekla volcano. Hekla is one of Iceland’s most active volcanos to this day. Luckily we had rented a 4-WD SUV because it would be difficult to get there without one. The long gravel road leading us to Gjain showed no signs of civilization, with no houses or other cars in sight. We parked in a lot with a sign posted showing the nearby trails. We took the trail that is to the right of the parking lot. It led us up a fairly steep hill and when we reached the top, it was like we had been dropped into the middle of a fairy land. We walked down the path and crossed bridges leading us to many waterfalls surrounded by lush green vegetation. I was in waterfall heaven! If you climb up towards the side of the slopes you may find some of the small caves to explore. Haifoss waterfall is located here also. Haifoss is one of the highest waterfalls in Iceland getting its powerful rush of water from the Fossa River pouring down into it.
Our last stop of the day was on the way to our next guesthouse at Urridafoss waterfall. Urridafoss is surrounded by private property, therefore it is important to be respectful and only park in the small lot provided. From the bridge you can catch a great view of the most voluminous waterfall in Iceland dropping down over the Pjorsarhraun lava field.
Exhausted from the long day of chasing waterfalls and exploration, we arrived at Vatnsholt guesthouse. The beautiful farmstead is surrounded by lovely green farmland containing horses, lambs, chickens, and other farm animals. We had our own room and bathroom that was very comfortable after a long and busy day of adventure. Other rooms in the building have shared bathrooms. There is a small game room with free Wi-Fi and movies to watch and snacks for late night arrivals. Make sure to take slippers to wear around the guesthouse because shoes are taken off at the front door. We had a nice breakfast the next morning and the staff was delightful. I would highly recommend staying at the Vatnsholt Guesthouse.