Since then the Icelanders have introduced some farm animals much larger than the Arctic fox - namely cattle, sheep and horses, and it's the horses that astound me the most. These are the toughest horses around, no word of a lie. They withstand all the conditions the harsh winters can throw at them. And they still seem to smile. The extreme conditions have been ingeniously harnessed to make it worth having these horses here for recreation. Every last bit of extreme weather and natural phenomenon that can be exploited to create energy for the people of Iceland has been cunningly done and it's this which minimises the footprint, both human and carbon. In Reykjavik, for example, are hot water tanks which are used to store the geothermically heated water pulled from deep underground. This water is already between 80-100 Celsius and is pumped straight into the homes of the surrounding suburbs, so no energy is required to heat the hot water. I'll point out that the water from the hot tap is the hottest I've found, and a shower with water packed full of sulphur, silica and other such nutrients leaves you feeling great!
The stream of water in Iceland is endless and this too is used for power, churning through hydroelectric plants and lighting the entire country with something that's there anyway and leaves zero emissions. But this water supply is fascinating in itself. The word foss is Icelandic for waterfall, and they're everywhere! With 4 permanent glaciers encasing vast mountain ranges on an island with an Arctic maritime climate the source is virtually endless. Just as often as it leaves the glaciers the water is replaced from the sky, even coming from inside the earth as steam rising from geothermal pools. The hunt for waterfalls in Iceland is one of the most popular tourist activities and their sheer power and variety is mesmerising and beautiful. Skógafoss is perhaps one of the most famous, being readily accessible and just a few hours from Reykjavik, it rises 60 metres from the bottom of the falls and flows away as a river with a plain to it's one side and mountainous foothills to the other. Seljalandafoss is the one we've all seen photographed from the rear, soaking anyone brave (or stupid) enough to venture too far forwards. This waterfall is treacherous in the winter owing to the slipperiest ice I've ever come across, but in the summer months a stroll around the back of it is worth getting a bit wet for. But if you really, and I mean REALLY, want to get wet then take a walk along to Gljufrafoss which is a two waterfalls inland, just a couple of hundred metres away. From afar you see the top of the falls cascading over the top of the mountain's edge, which abruptly disappears behind a rock. This rock hides an awesome secret which many don't brace, and this secret is a gorge a couple of metres wide with a flowing floor which, upon entering through a cold mist, opens out into a cavern with a perfectly placed rock and just enough space to get a decent view all the way to the top. In stark contrast there's the sheer might of Gulfoss, flushing millions of gallons of the purest glacial water over two diagonal tiers dissecting a canyon which defies belief. Living just up the road from Strokkur, the younger and still active little brother of the now dormant Geysir, these falls pull in crowds from around the world provoking jaw drops and awe. Svartifoss, also in the south, is a walk from the nearest place to park but a walk that's absolutely worth it. Set among a basalt rock formation, the cascade drops down the dark lava columns which create it.