Geysir and Strokkur are located within the Haukadalur Geothermal Area on the Golden Circle Route in the south of Iceland. They are iconic landmarks and are on many tours of the Golden Circle. Strokkur is an active geyser, ejecting 20 – 30 metres of water into the air every 5 – 10 minutes. Geysir on the other hand lies quietly to the side, dormant but brewing another huge eruption.
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Haukadalur Geothermal Area
The number of cars are building as we head closer to Geysir. Everything from 4WD and campers to coaches and zippy little city cars seem to be on the road. The car park is organised and everyone is searching for the surprisingly non-existent pay station.
To the west is the small mountain called Laugafell and the geothermal area runs from south to south west following the tectonic lines in the area.
Ahead there are signs warning of boiling water and a need to stay on the marked path. The fields adjacent to the path steam and even the small stream running along the side of the path has a warning sign. Mud pots boil and bubble in a heated slurry of dissolved minerals, rocks and geothermal water. The area is about 100m wide and stretches half a kilometre to where the seat of the Lords of Haukadalur was once located.
The Haukadalur Valley in southern Iceland is steaming and erupting continually and although this has been going on for over 10000 years the level of activity comes and goes as the years pass. This is one of the most famous geysers in the world and the one that all others are named after.
The bigger of the two erupting hot springs is Geysir (derived from the Old Norse word for ‘gush’). Erupting regularly this hot spring has been quiet since 1916 but in 2000 took the record for the highest geyser blast reaching 122metres. Currently it is a calm pool of boiling water, dormant and probably building for another massive blast at some point in the future. Attempts have been made using soft soap (who knows how that one works!!) to kick Stóri Geysir or Great Geyser into action but it is still slumbering.
Adjacent to Geysir is the extremely reliable and active Strokkur or Butter Barrel Geyser. This is the one that brings people to the area. This hot spring erupts every 5 to 10 minutes day and night throwing heated water 20 to 30 metres into the air. Starting as a blue bulge of water the geyser erupts in a noisy spire of energy. It starts with a gurgle as it warms up ready to explode and then as the water erupts the rushing noise is really distinctive.
Things to Look Out For at Haukadalur Geothermal Area
- The small and gently bubbling Little Geysir and Little Strokkur on the way to Strokkur
- The colours in the river bed flowing through the valley from Strokkur
- The deep blue water in Konungshver and Blesi hot springs
- Bubbling mud and steaming fumaroles
Photographing the geyser at Haukadalur Geothermal Area can take patience and planning. It is not as easy as it seems as the whole display is over in a matter of seconds. Take time to watch a few eruptions before attempting any photographs.
The geyser can look beautiful against a sunset sky or the aurora borealis and visiting at different times can produce very different results.
Stepping back from the main areas and photographing the geyser eruption in the landscape can give a true sense of the scale and force of the hot spring and the insignificance of the visitors against the power of nature.
READ MORE: HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH A GEYSER
Getting to Strokkur, Geysir and Haukadalur Geothermal Area
The geothermal area is about 105km east of Reykjavík and is part of the well known Golden Circle route and takes about an hour and a half to drive
To reach the area take Route 1 (Ring Road 1) to the west from Selfoss. Turn onto Route 35 just after the petrol station as you head out of the town.
Follow this road until you find the parking area and visitors centre at Geysir.
This is open 24hours a day and there are currently no charges for parking.
Cross the road and the entrance to the geothermal area is in front of you. Follow the marked path with the fence on your right until you see Strokkur in front of you.
Places to Stay Near Haukadalur
There are a number of options adjacent to the geothermal area. These include the large and suitably priced Hotel Geysir and the small discreet campsite – Camping Geysir. Whilst the prices are higher than other locations, being so close to the geothermal area and the ability to visit when all is quiet or when the aurora arrives is worth the extra cost.
Something Different to Do
When everyone else is watching the geysir erupt how about taking yourself off for something a bit different. The buggy adventure starts close to Geysir but then takes you off road into the Haukadalsskógur forest before heading towards Mount Hlöðufell with views towards Gullfoss and then onwards to Hagavatn glacier lagoon. Off road and far from the madness of the Golden Circle.