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Approximately 5 Hours
This is a predominantly green-focused tour that circles the active 2,635-foot Hengill Volcano, located just a couple of miles from Reykjavík. Hengill last erupted approximately 2,000 years ago, but its numerous natural hot springs, colorful steam vents and fumaroles still dot the surrounding landscape. Hengill produces hydro and geothermal power, which provide the capital with plentiful hot water and electricity.
Stop at the Hellisheidi Geothermal Plant Visitor Center to learn about volcanoes, geosciences, and geothermal technology.
Continue to the town of Hveragerdi, located on top of an old magma chamber. Hot springs bubble and hiss all around this unique community.
A short, scenic drive takes you past the town's trademark greenhouses, and a short walk leads to the new hot-spring area. Refreshments are served here.
Follow the River Sogid past the Ljóssafoss Hydro Station to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Thingvellir. Approaching Thingvellir, you'll literally drive from one continent to another as you cross the neo-volcanic rift zone that slices through Iceland from northeast to southwest. Pause at the viewpoint to soak up a little of the nation's history, for it is here that the world's oldest existing parliament was formed in AD 930.
At the time of Iceland's settlement (in the 9th century), an estimated one-fourth of the country was covered by birch woodlands. Today, forests cover just a little over one percent of Iceland. The forests were felled for timber, cleared for agriculture, and grazed by domestic animals brought by the settlers. Since 1950, the emphasis has been on reforestation and also afforestation -- the planting of forests where they didn't previously exist.
The road leading past Iceland's largest natural lake at Thingvallavatn takes you to a viewpoint on the lower flanks of the volcano. Take in the fascinating sight of the countless hot springs that continuously belch their sulfur-rich deposits over the dazzling scenery. The drive back to Reykjavík takes you through a lunar-like landscape of volcanic phenomena.
All walking is optional, and most sights can be viewed through the motorcoach windows. There are some inclined surfaces to negotiate and rough grass/mud/gravel paths. Suitable for guests with mobility limitations with a companion to assist. It is essential that you wear warm, layered clothing to fully enjoy and participate in this excursion; outer layer should be waterproof and windproof. Bring gloves, a warm hat and a scarf. The water in the geothermal area is boiling. Parents traveling with children under the age of 3 must rent a child's car seat from the tour operator; please see the Shore Excursions team on board. You cannot use your child's car seat from home in Iceland.