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Friday, 21 October 2011

Day 4's blog entry

Our 4th day began with a fresh and early start with a wake up of 6:30 and breakfast at 7:30. The cabin hotel provided an open buffet style breakfast serving cereals and fresh fruit. To much dismay we shared the breakfast hall with the Bedford Modern school.
After breakfast we immediately set off to the Reykjavik harbour as we had booked a boat to take us whale watching. It took 15 minutes to reach the point in Faxafloi bay where marine animal activity was high. On the way the view was utterly breath taking as the snow covered mountains were complimented by the  sparkling sea. The sea was mildly choppy on the way out of the harbour to the point in the bay. This caused a few members of the group to feel rather ill, while others stood at the bow and enjoyed the experience and incredible views.

Once out at the point in Faxafloi bay it was barely half an hour before we saw a pod of dolphins including a mother and her calves diving in an and out of the water. At first they were cautious of the boat and were sure to keep their distance. However, within 40 minutes they grew more comfortable and began swimming incredibly close to the boat often disappearing and reappearing behind us, forcing us to turn around as if they were playing a game. We followed this pod of dolphins for some time until they became less interested in us and disappeared and we were left searching for more activity. We eventually spotted a single Minke whale which was approximately 5m in length. Soon we lost sight of this whale and the bay grew still and empty. Luckily it was just in time to head back so we turned around and headed back to the harbour, many of us headed down to the bar to enjoy a hot drink after having spent a good 3 hours in the cold spray of the sea.
Upon arrival back at the harbour we were given a couple of minutes for a few to regain their land legs, then we got back onto our bus who had conveniently parked right outside the boat and set off for our next destination. 
This was Thingvellir; a massive rift where the two plates (American plate and Eurasian plate) meet and pull apart leaving a massive rift valley which contains one of the world’s clearest and purest lakes which is renowned for being a fantastic place for divers. We observed several fascinating geological features such as dikes, a table mountain, fissures, shield volcano (with a name that sounded like skull breath)  and finally rotated blocks. This was truly exciting for all of us intellectually absorbent geographers.

Next we were off to Gulfoss, a truly magnificent waterfall by far the most beautiful so far. The spray from the water rushing down into the gorge caused a coating of ice over its surroundings, leaving an effect like icing on a cake. The walls of the gorge were covered in sparkling ice which glimmered so fantastically it was as if the walls were made of crystal. The sheer force of this waterfall was shown through the path it had cut. The walls of the gorge were cut straight and covered in spectacular icicles that were anywhere between 5-9ft long. The walk up the path back to the bus proved tricky as the path was frozen in parts and took an age to manoeuvre around.

(you may have to rotate your head 90 degrees anti clockwise for this one)

We left Gulfoss in anticipation for the geysers we were about to visit, we knew this was a part of the trip where we could get up-close to a fantastic geological event. We crowded around Skellgafoss, a geyser that regularly erupts, and awaited results. We all stood there cameras ready, filming each tantalising minute afraid of missing the shot, after a 10 minute or so video of a bubbling pool Skellgafoss finally erupted with fantastic results as a column of steam and water shot 20 metres into the air. What we did not expect was for it to happen another two times in instant succession of each other.
On the way back to Reykjavik and one more night of hot pools and a burger for dinner, our guide Soffia pulled us over at an extinct volcanic crater. It was filled with water and not only broke up our journey, but provided a wonderful end to a terrific day.

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