Why you should go hiking in Reykjadalur
Quite a lot of people who go to Iceland, immediately rush over to the Golden Circle and its sights. Which is perfectly understandable because those natural wonders you will get to see there are not something you can see in just any country. The geysers and waterfalls are just stunning and deserve all the attention they get. However if you go just a little bit further than the Golden Circle, you will find a little valley called Reykjadalur (meaning Smoky Valley) that will surprise you with its outstanding beauty. It’s truly one of Iceland’s hidden hot (s) pots if you ask us. Plus, since we totally advise you to not visit the Blue Lagoon (read here why) you will have a free plunge into a hot spring!
We were lucky and got to go hiking in Reykjadalur in different seasons, in the middle of summer and heart of winter. Both perfect times for exploration!
The first time we went hiking in Reykjadalur was in the summer of 2011, just after we got off the Laugavegur trek. Our friend Birna, whom we stayed with before and after the trek, took us there as we wanted to go on an easy hike to relax the muscles. Well, relaxing muscles we got. A little hot stream curls through the valley and is just perfect for bathing. All you need is a towel and a bathing suit, on many occasions you will have a section of the stream all for yourself, depending how warm or cold you like it. There are no changing rooms or whatsoever, it will be just you and nature!
But it’s not just the stream that’s worth visiting, Reykjadalur has everything you have come to Iceland for. Well, almost everything. The landscape is incredibly colorful, waterfalls thunder down from the Hengill Mountains and you have to be careful not to step into a pool of boiling mud or a steaming vent.
The trek up to where the stream gets comfortable will be about one hour uphill from the parking lot. Nothing difficult but maybe a bit hard for those who don’t have any hiking experience. You may have to wade through some small rivers, too. Even if you think it’s a tough walk up, the warmth of the stream will make all the effort completely worth it.
Looking for a more challenging walk? Martijn went back in summer 2012 and hiked all the way to Thingvellirvatn on the other side of the Hengill Mountains. He camped overnight and continued walking the next day. An ideal preparation for a longer trek such as the Laugavegur.
During Anto’s winter trip in November 2012 the original plan was to go ice climbing but unfortunately the winds were too strong and the guiding company decided to go hiking in Reykjadalur instead. A bit of a disappointment at first, but at the end of the day, the Reykjadalur trek proved to be a worthy alternative. There was a fresh layer of snow that covered the landscape and guiding services were very useful, having to be careful not to step into a mud pool or something. It was hard to recognize the landscape as it was a completely different setting but definitely as stunning as in summertime. And the bathing? Well she didn’t do it… The wind was freezing and as she was going to Chile four days later she didn’t want to risk catching a cold or worse.
At this moment we can luckily still enjoy the beauty and warmth of the stream but who knows, when you read this it might be over. Iceland and it’s geothermal landscape are always moving and the landscape will continue to change… We also heard that it has been changing rapidly because of tourism. So if you decide to visit, please leave nothing but footprints to the people coming after you, can also enjoy it like you did!
Nevertheless… if you are ever around this area, make sure to put this on top of your list of places to visit. You won’t be sorry. Enjoy bathing and hiking in Reykjadalur!
Want to read more about our (Icelandic) adventures? Then check these out!
– Hiking the Laugavegur, Icelandic most epic trail
– 5 Reasons why not to go to the Blue Lagoon
– How to do the Icelandic south coast in one day
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Thanks for sharing!