Adventure on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula

The Reykjanes peninsula is located in the southwest corner of Iceland.  It is probably best known for two things – Iceland’s main airport, Keflavik, and the Blue Lagoon.  However, there are many more things to see on the Reykjanes peninsula.  We spent our last day in Iceland visiting a few of them.

The Reykjanes Peninsula is part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that goes between the North American and Eurasian Tectonic plates.  The entire area is a UNESCO Global Geopark and is full of features formed due to its geothermal and volcanic activity.

Here are some of our favorite places on Reykjanes:

1 – The Bridge Between Continents

The Bridge Between Continents lies on the boundary between the North American and European tectonic plates, which are spreading apart from each other at an average of 2cm per year.

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Standing between continents

Below the bridge, you can see the rocks that were once connected to each other and are now getting further apart.

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Brothers enjoy being on separate continents for a moment
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pushing apart the continents

 

2. Power Plant Earth Solar System Exhibit

This is actually part of a museum that we didn’t have the time, money (kids weren’t free at this one 😦 )or patience (from the kids) for, so we only visited their outside exhibit, which shows a scale model (size and distance) of the Solar System.

We started at the Sun:

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Then, walked across the parking lot to Mercury.

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At that point, we had already walked pretty far, so we hopped in the car and headed down the road to spot the other planets.

Venus, Earth and Mars weren’t too far away, but it took a while before we got to Jupiter. It was much bigger than the earlier planets.

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I didn’t get pictures of the other planets, but after Jupiter, they were spread really far apart, and we had actually already arrived at our next destination before spotting the last of the planets!  It was cool to see the planets at such a scale.

3. Gunnhuver Geothermal Area 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, some of the excitement of seeing geothermal features in Iceland was muted, due to the fact that we had just been to Yellowstone, one of the few areas in the world that can rival Iceland, in terms of these geothermal features.  However, Iceland did manage to amaze us with a few of its features, and Gunnhuver was one of them!

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Gunnhuver blew up a constant, huge billow of steam, and when you got close, you could see hot water spurting up.  It was truly amazing.

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walking into the steam

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water is also spouting out of the vent (you can just see it above the steam)

The power of Gunnhuver just can’t be captured in pictures – it was just amazing to see in person.

4.  Valahnukur

These beautiful cliffs providing an amazing view of the sea (and let the boys do a little bit of climbing)

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climbed up only to discover the top was literally a cliff’s edge 8-0 they promptly climbed down again!

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5. Kerid Crater*

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*Okay, so this one isn’t actually on the Reykjanes peninsula, but I’m going to include it anyway (my blog, my rules ;-)).  We actually visited this one the day before, and I had heard it was amazing.  It was pretty cool, but my expectations were maybe a little high (that or I was distracted by my whining children).  But, anyway, I will let you see it for yourself.

The Kerid crater is a volcanic crater lake.  The water is a brilliant aquamarine color, and the whole place is shaped exactly how you would picture a volcanic crater would be shaped. It was formed about 3,000 years ago and is about 180 feet deep, 560 feet wide and 890 feet across.

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The crater goes below the water table, so the water in the lake actually represents the water table (it isn’t formed by rain).  After admiring the views from above, we headed down the hill to the lake.

 

Once we got down to the lake, we walked around it.  There were just enough rocks to occupy the boys, and it only took about 10 minutes to walk around.

 

After our first loop around the lake, the big boys were done and wanted to climb back up.  Little N, however, insisted on one more loop around the lake.

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C and N taking one more loop around the lake

We could have walked around the perimeter of the crater at the top, but the boys vetoed that idea, so we took one last look at the pretty water and headed out.

We spent our last night at a hotel in Keflavik, and woke up bright and early (but not earlier than the sun in the far northern hemisphere on an early August morning!) for our short, 2-hour flight to Scotland.

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The sun is out at 5:45am as we head to the airport

Next stop – Scotland!

 

 

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