Hot Spring Wonders

Posted on Categories Activities, Iceland, Nature, WinterTags , , , , , , , , , ,

If you are staying in Reykjavik for few days, you might want to take a day (or two) of travel in the countryside close to the city. Iceland is full of breathtaking landscape and the wonderful thing is that you don’t need to go very far to explore them.

The south of Iceland is extremely rich in astonishing and dreamy landscapes. It has to be one of the reason why the popular Golden Circle features several points of interest in that region! Geysers, waterfalls, glacier, geothermal rivers, volcanoes and many more natural wonders. If you feel a little bit more adventurous and wouldn’t mind some exercise, then this experience is for you!

Only 45 km away from Reykjavik, there is a small town called Hveragerði. They call themselves the hot springs capital of the world, or the earthquake town; you can see where this is going! The town is situated in the geothermal area of the Hengill Volcano; still active, but its last explosion is going back to more than 2,000 years ago. Such volcano activity is not dangerous but means several geothermal mud pools, hot springs and thermal rivers!  

 

Reykjadalur Valley, which is approximately 5 minutes driving from Hveragerði,  is one of the popular stops in the Hengill area. The name of the breathtaking valley translates to “Steamy Valley”, which will make sense once you see the numerous fumaroles decorating the landscape.

The access is very easy to find and there is a parking lot and a small coffee place near the entrance of the trail.

 

The hike itself is not very hard; it’s 3 km long (6km back and forth) with plenty of photo stops on the way. It lasts between 1 hour and 1 hour and a half depending on the experience of the hikers. In general, there are few steep paths and several flat ones. The quality of the trail is quite great, but of course one needs to be careful in nature; muddy in warmer period, icy in colder ones. Also, the trail could be impressive for someone uncomfortable with heights. As you can see on the picture, the landscapes are quite impressive and the trail follows the top of some hills.

The best and most rewarding part of this hike is reaching the hot springs. You will know when you are getting close as the sulfur smell gets more intense and steam pops out of the ground and from the mud pools. Those are extremely hot, it is dangerous to leave the path to get closer. Once you get to the geothermal river, there are some wooden paths that have been installed to facilitate your safety and also protect the surrounding nature; please use them.

After changing behind the panels installed, you jump in the warm river and feel the tickles eating your toes and enjoy! If going during the weekend, there are more people, but it is a lot more quiet on weekdays. The higher up the stream you go, the warmer the water is.

The trail is open all year long and we highly suggest to do it during winter time. The contrast between the warmth and the cold makes the hot springs even more welcoming. Not only this, but the snow and the cold creates a white paradise that brings you on another planet for few hours. When the light of the afternoon hits the top of the hills and colours the snow with an orange and pink light, the feelings is indescribable. The pictures speak for themselves.

What you will need for a perfect hike:

  • – Hiking boots OR sports shoes
  • – Bottle of water
  • – Warm unders
  • – Warm coat
  • – Gloves, hat, neck warmer
  • – Swimsuit
  • – Towel
  • – Extra pants (if you are cold when coming out of the hot springs)
  • – Extra socks
  • – Something to take pictures (you probably thought of that one already…)
  • – Snacks
  • – A trash bag (please make sure to take all of your trash with you when you leave)
  • – Beer (Why not enjoying your time in the hot springs a little?)
  • – Happiness
  • – Your smile!

 

If you would like to know more about other warm bathing options, in nature or not, I invite you to read another of our blog: https://www.centerhotels.com/2018/09/06/pools-and-hot-springs/

Explore the majestic Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Posted on Categories IcelandTags , , , , , ,

Snæfellsnes Peninsula is 90 km long and features tall and dramatic cliffs that have been shaped by volcanic ash and glacier erosion. The peninsula is home to a majestic nature and rich culture and the communities of Snæfellsnes Peninsula were the first in Europe to receive certification from Green Glove, an international benchmarking system for sustainable travel and tourism.

On the tip of the peninsula is the Snæfellsjökull National Park, the country’s youngest national park and only park in Iceland that is situated at the coast. It features sites like the mystical glacier Snæfellsjökull, an inactive volcano and Djúpalónssandur or the black Lava Pearl Beach. There you will find peculiar rock formations, one which has a large hole in the middle and by looking through it you will see Snæfellsjökull..great place to stop and take a photo.

Mineral springs can be found at various places, such as at the farm Ölkelda and at Lýsuhóll, which has a thermal pool with naturally-carbonated water.  

Hellnar is an old fishing village on Snæfellsnes peninsula right beneath Snæfellsjökull glacier and a popular travel destination. There is a hotel and a cafe and a visitors center for the national park.  At Hellnar you will also find a large freestanding rock with one of Iceland’s most peculiar cave called Baðsofa with colorful interior walls that vary according to it’s exposure to light and tide.  If you are into photography then check out the Hellnar church which is build on a very picturesque site.

Arnarstapi is another village and was an important trading post in the past. Today it attracts many travelers, and there is a camping ground, guesthouse and a restaurant. At Arnarstapi you can arrange tours to Snæfellsjökull and you can also tour an 8000 year old cave called Vatnshellir Cave, that was created by volcanic eruption from a nearby crater.  This is the volcano that Otto Lidenbroch and his nephew descended into and started their adventures in the famous 1864 science fiction novel ‘Journey to the center of the Earth’ by Jules Verne.

Skarðvík beach is a cove located on Snæfellsnes peninsula, surrounded by cliffs, with white sand and blue waters. A number of hiking trails lead to and from the beach over the lava fields.

Finally when visiting Snæfellsnes Peninsula, make sure to ask about the tales and old ghost sagas about the area’s extraordinary happenings, which has given this beautiful area a mystical energy.

You can book your trip to Snæfellnes Peninsula right here.

Enjoy the mystic Snæfellsnes!

Esjan hike

Posted on Categories IcelandTags

A dominant part of Reykjavík city´s beautiful backdrop is Mount Esja, a volcanic mountain range situated about 15 km north of Reykjavík.

Esjan was formed in the beginning of the Ice Age or approximately 2,5 million years ago. It is not a single mountain, but a volcanic mountain range and the highest tip reaches 914 meters or 2,999 ft.

Esjan has become a very popular recreation area and hiking spot for Reykjavík locals with several well marked hiking trails that run up the mountain that vary in difficulty ranging from 1 boot (easy) to 3 boots (challenging). At a certain point up the mountain more experienced hikers can choose to continue directly to the top or like most you can choose to stop and turn around at a popular turnaround point marked with a big rock called ‘Steinn’ (rock in Icelandic). This is where you catch your breath and take in the breathtakingly beautiful view.
Once you’ve completed your hike you can grab a beverage or light lunch at Esjustofa, a cozy family owned cafe/restaurant at the bottom of Esjan. Their traditional Icelandic meat soup is delicious and worth trying.

Keep in mind to always keep the weather and snow conditions in mind before hiking Esjan. The weather in Iceland can change very quickly and the hike can become very difficult in bad weather.

Mt. Esja is an easy 20 minute car ride from Reykjavík on Route 1 past the town of Mosfellsbær and you can park your car for free by the starting point. It is also accessible by the number 15 bus from Hlemmur bus station. Get off at Háholt in Mosfellsbær, then take the number 57 to the foot of Esja at Hiking Centre Esjustofa.

Other fun hiking spots around Reykjavík include Úlfarsfell which is a short but sweet hike up Úlfarsfell mountain. Also located off Route 1 about 10 km north of Reykjavík, Úlfarsfell mountain is only approximately 15 minute drive from Reykjavík and the total hike is 4,6 kilometer long and only takes about an hour and half. It is perfect if you’re in Reykjavík and in the mood for a quick but fun hike and some fresh air. You start the hike by walking through some woods which makes your hike even more adventurous.

Enjoy your hike!