Day 3 of our trip to Iceland and we weren’t on the road for quite as long as the previous two days. We had considered what to do on our final day in Iceland and a visit to some sort of geothermal swimming activity was definitely on the cards.
As mentioned in the Iceland – Day Two instalment of the blog. The first question everyone asks is “Did you go to the Blue Lagoon?” We considered it and ultimately decided against it for a number of reasons, some of which are outlined in this really useful blog… Things No One Tells You About the Blue Lagoon. The main things that put me off visiting were the price, its popularity and cliche photographs that go along with it and above all the fact that it is not a naturally occurring phenomenon but the run off from a nearby geothermically powered factory. Having researched before our trip I was keen to visit the Landmannalaugar region with its hot spring streams surrounded by colourful mountains – a truly surreal landscape. Unfortunately this area is inaccessible from the end of September until April. We found an alternative about 40km outside of Reykjavik at Reykjadalur .
It was an easy one hour trek into the mountains from the nearby village of Hveragerði to a very active area filled with steam outlets, bubbling mud pools and steaming rivers. The area was absolutely breathtaking and the views were spectacular. On our hour long trek we encountered about 10 other people. It felt very remote and isolated. Perfect.
The snow dusted landscape and lack of human presence or landmarks makes it very difficult to grasp a perspective of the size of this area. The waterfall in the second picture was huge and at the bottom of a deep valley with volcanic cliffs dropping straight down into it. With no benchmark to compare with the expanse of the area is difficult to describe.
I was very excited to be in such a deserted area. The silence was wonderful and we were well away from the tourist trail. There were one or two slippery areas but we managed for the most part to stay on our feet.
We could see steam rising above the top of the mountains and I was keen to get in the steaming streams!
After a very cold change into swimming gear I was keen to get into the water. It wasn’t boiling hot as we chose to sit in a deeper part of the stream which included a cold stream that mixed with the hot volcanically heated water. The water ran very fast and easily pushed us downstream. It was surprising to find that, given the speed that the water was flowing the rocks on the bed of the stream were quite uncomfortable to walk on, making it challenging to move around the streams into warmer areas!
This area is clearly more popular during the summer months and there was basic fence like changing facilities to help preserve dignity, however when there is no one about – you dont need to worry about that! Swimming in a warm river in an isolated mountain range while it’s -4*C outside is an experience I will never forget and was a highlight of my trip to Iceland.
Having changed (very quickly!) out of our swim wear and back into our dry, warm clothes we heated ourselves on the trek back through the steamy valley. In all the blogs I have read about Iceland, I have read the term; ‘The photographs don’t do it justice’ and I can’t help but echo this sentiment.
Our last day in Iceland was spent strolling around the tiny capital of Iceland, taking in some of the architecture and generally feeling sad about leaving this incredible country. I didn’t feel that Day 4 necessitated its own post but here are a few photos I took on day 4.