Iceland 2013: Water wonders and aurorae

Posted by Liz Kruesi
on Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Today we got to see a sampling of Iceland’s amazing natural wonders (including the northern lights!).

The huge waterfall Gullfoss is fed by glacial melt. // photo by Liz Kruesi
In the morning, we left Reykjavik and drove southeast to the Haukadalur geothermal area to visit hot springs and natural geysers. The water is about 212° Fahrenheit (100° Celsius) — and contains alkalides — so we made sure not to touch the water. The steam roiling off the many water holes made it obvious how hot the spring-fed features are, but it made for dramatic photographs. 

The main event, however, was the geyser Strokurr that erupts every few minutes and spews water some 50 feet (15 meters) high. Prepped with the camera, we viewed a few eruptions — including two back to back.

Then it was back to the bus to head to another water feature — Gullfoss. This huge tiered waterfall is fed by glacial melt, and the water is a clear light blue as it tumbles down some 105 feet (30m). Because it’s still winter weather here, the surrounding vegetation is brown, instead of a lush green.

The aurora danced across the sky this evening in Iceland. // photo by Liz Kruesi
But, the winter nights (although, getting shorter now due to the vernal equinox) make for more opportunities to catch aurorae. And that we did. 

As soon as we walked outside, pale clouds spread across the sky. Beautiful green clouds brightened and then danced across the sky in “S” shapes. That band faded while another arc formed and spread. And then another formed concentric to that one. I managed to take a few good photographs of an aurora … even with my unfocused camera (I included one in this blog). I’m hoping for more clear skies tomorrow — especially now that I've figured out a few more manual settings on the camera.

Related blog:
Iceland 2013: Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon

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