©Wolfgang Kaehler

Iceland 2017 Photo Tour, Day 2

By Michelle Alten


Iceland is a relatively young country—it only gained independence from Denmark in 1918, and as we drive through Reykjavik, everything looks new.  It is hard to imagine this is the land of the Sagas, tales written in the 12th and 13th century.  Once we leave the capital and enter the rolling hills of the countryside, I can envision a land of sod houses and remote hamlets.  Today pristine, white cement homes dot the verdant slopes, while sheep and chubby Icelandic horses graze in endless pastures.  The rain has followed us today as it soaks into the porous earth and reappears in springs, lakes and waterfalls.  Birds are everywhere, taking advantage of the pristine environment: tufted ducks and grey-legged geese swim in a pond.  At a lunch stop, black-tailed Godwits poke in the grasses searching for invertebrates.  Like the birds, we brave the rain to see some of Iceland’s mystical and misty waterfalls today: Faxifoss—Foss meaning waterfall—is named for its long cascade, resembling a horse’s mane. Gullfoss—Golden Waterfall—is magnificent and Iceland’s largest cataract.  Stunned by its beauty, I recall my childhood visits to Niagara Falls.  But this waterfall is surrounded by lush grassy hillsides instead of souvenir shops.   We venture through the rain all day, even to Geysir, the shoot of water that gave the name to all of these exploding chutes of water, heated beneath the earth’s surface.  Finally after dinner, the torrents subside, an azure sky emerges, and Iceland’s true beauty reveals itself.

Hot spring at Geysir

Gullfoss in the rain




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