Tucked away in the woods of South-Iceland you will find the Secret Cabin of Thor -named after both the Old Norse Viking God of Thunder and the owner of the cottage, Ólafur Thor.
This white and forceful glacial river is the same river which creates Iceland's best-known waterfall, Gullfoss - the Golden Fall, which cascades 32 meters in two drops into the deep gorge Hvítárgljúfur.
This glacial river gorge carries the foamy glacial river some 3 km towards the south shore, rushing by the secret cottage where it joins the still Sogið freshwater river and together with 3 additional rivers, Tungufljót, Brúará and Stóra-Laxá, it turns into Iceland's most voluminous river, the powerful Ölfusá river.
It is extraordinary to watch these 2 rivers meet and witness the azure freshwater river joining the milky white glacial river. All this is happening just a stone-throw away from the Secret Cabin of the God of Thunder.
The Secret Cabin is located in a quiet location close to a small lake which has found its way into the armlet by the cabin - in the distance, you can hear the dangerous glacial river roaring in the rapids just a little bit further east.
I stayed in the Secret Cabin of Thor for one night - it was my birthday and I wanted to do something special for me and my husband on that occasion. I had travelled earlier with Ólafur, the owner of the Secret Cabin, and know that he drives a very comfortable luxury SUV, so I asked him if I could stay in his cabin for one night and enjoy his guidance on the Golden Circle - just for fun. He said yes :)
Ólafur picked us up in Reykjavík on his luxurious SUV and off we went to explore the Golden Circle of Iceland - with a guide :) Our first stop was only 50 km away, at the historical UNESCO site Þingvellir National Park.
Now, Þingvellir is an absolutely sacred place for us Icelanders as here the Vikings established a parliament in 930, which is still operating in Reykjavík. Apart from being historically significant then Þingvellir is situated on the tectonic plates. And it is one of the very few places where the tectonic plates are visible above ground.
Ólafur left us at the so-called Hakið for a great view of Þingvellir, and we walked by ourselves down the Almannagjá rift, visited Öxarárfoss waterfall and met up with him again at Nikulásargjá rift, which we Icelanders call Peningagjá rift or Money Rift. The name stems from it being the only place in Iceland where it is allowed to throw in coins and make a wish :)
We had a stroll in this lovely area and visited the old church and the graveyard. Ask Ólafur to tell you who is buried in that small graveyard.
Ólafur then drove us to the geothermal village Laugarvatn, where we made a stop at the bubbles, as we Icelanders call it, where locals bake rye-bread in the boiling ground just by the lake.
Seeing that my birthday is in March then we didn't stop at the formerly inhabited caves, Laugarvatnshellir, on the way, but these caves would be included in the tour in the summertime.
Now it was lunchtime so Ólafur made a stop at Efstidalur farm, where they make their own ice-cream. The restaurant is next to a cowshed so we could watch the cows from which the milk in the ice-cream originated.
We were very close to the ever so popular Geysir geothermal area. I think this must be the most popular place to visit in Iceland as this is the only place in Europe where this natural phenomenon, Geysir, can be seen.
The famous Geysir though is almost dormant and the "geyser" which erupts every 7 minutes is called Strokkur. This is a lovely area to visit and no matter how many times I visit it I always say "wow" when Strokkur erupts.
Only 10 km away from the Geysir area you will find the best best-known waterfall in Iceland and the one which gives the Golden Circle its name, the majestic waterfall Gullfoss. Gullfoss is 33 metres high, with two cascades, the first one is 11 metres high, and the other one is 22 metres high.
This massive waterfall is part of the glacial river Hvítá, which originates in Langjökull glacier - remember - the river which roars by the Secret Cottage of Thor, where we would be staying for the night. Ólafur left us on the lower platform and picked us up at the upper platform where we walked together all the way to the easternmost viewing spot.
I always have a hard time tearing myself away from Gullfoss, it has mesmerised me ever since I was a little girl. I could stay for hours just admiring it and be at one with nature.
On our way back we made a stop at a much smaller waterfall, pretty all the same, Faxi waterfall where you can see a salmon ladder beside the waterfall.
Not far away lies another sacred place, the old bishopric Skálholt, where we made a stop at the cathedral and walked around the archaeological site.
Our last stop was made very close to the Secret Cabin of Thor, the old water-filled explosion crater Kerið - where you might even see some fish in the lake at the bottom of the crater!
Ólafur will adapt the tour to your needs, so if you have any preferences and want to stop and take photos then that is always possible. We just asked Ólafur to take us on the traditional tour, as it were, seeing that we live here, and visit these places often.
After a full day of exploring the Golden Circle with Ólafur, we were greeted by a master chef at the cabin where a luxurious 3-course-dinner with Champagne was waiting for us! My husband got lobster and I got chicken prepared by Eiríkur Valdimar Friðriksson master chef.
I had heard about this Secret Cabin of Thor in the woods, where guests get treated like royalty. I can tell you that we felt very pampered :)
My husband is a professional magician so we had quite a fun night as you can tell from the photos :) He usually spends half an hour or so with his guests for storytelling, but seeing that we had brought our own entertainment with us, then that was not needed ;)
Ólafur is such a friendly and knowledgeable host - and a funny guy - just imagine being guided by a jolly Santa Claus :) Having such a friendly guide is what makes and breaks a guided tour in my opinion. Travelling with Ólafur made this tour very memorable.
I try out many guided tours every year and I have seen that if the guide is not up to par then it can put a damper on the experience. Not in this case and I can give Ólafur my highest recommendations :)
I have noticed the trend of moving into slow travel which makes you feel like you are just travelling with a friend, who is driving you around and guiding you. That is what a tour with Ólafur feels like.
Ask him to tell you about how pizza arrived in Iceland - after all, they used to call him Óli pizza once upon a time :) He will have some great stories to tell - and not only about pizza of course, as he is a storyteller at heart and can tell you some great stories about Iceland and Icelanders.
You will not have a dead moment during your guided tour - unless you want to.
We ended this wonderful day by soaking in the warm geothermal water in the Jacuzzi on the veranda with snowflakes falling on our faces :) It continued snowing throughout the night and the ground was totally white the next day.
It must be wonderful catching sight of the Northern lights on a starry night, that would be the icing on the cake. And there is even a chance of catching sight of the snowy owl, which is a majestic sight. I have seen it 3 times here in Iceland.
Thor's cabin, although being tucked away in the woods, has got all the modern amenities a TV, Wifi and a fully equipped kitchen. The cabin sleeps 4 people as it has got one big bedroom and one smaller one. Then there are mattresses available for children if needed. There were only the 2 of us, so we had plenty of space.
Ólafur stayed for the night in the baby cabin (Little Hilton) next to the cottage, where he usually stays when he is guiding visitors.
I think it will feel very safe for foreign visitors having their guide with them at a safe distance the whole time. I know I would not mind that if I were to visit a foreign country. Ólafur also has access to another cabin in the vicinity, called Seyðishólar, ca 20 minutes away from the Secret Cottage of Thor, so if you want him to be further away then he stays at the other cottage ;)
Staying at this quaint little cottage is truly magical and ever so peaceful. Here we are so close to Selfoss town on ring road 1 and the busy road 35, which is part of the ever so popular Golden Circle route, yet so secluded in this magical cottage in the woods.
Iceland hasn't got many forests and woodland so to us Icelanders staying in a hidden cottage in the woods is very special.