If you love to hike and enjoy nature’s best baths, there is a valley that is absolutely a must to visit. Iceland is known the world over for its geothermal hot baths , of all the numerous one that are already very popular one, Reykjadalur valley stands out in its magnificence and beauty.This beautiful valley, is around the town called Hveragerði town, only some 45 km away from Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital city.
The name of the valley, Reykjadalur, means Steam Valley .The valley is filled with hot springs and mud pools, and there is even a hot river in which one can bathe. The Reykjadalur valley is part of the Hengill area, but Mt. Hengill is an extinct volcano, which was active 120,000 years ago.
There is a restaurant called Dalakaffi by the parking lots and toilets. The hike starts from the parking lot where you first cross a bridge over a river and a hike on a gravel trail up the Rjúpnabrekkur Ptarmigan slopes, leading to Reykjadalur hot steam valley.
The hike is 3 km long one way and will take about 45-60 minutes.On the first part of the trail, there are several hot springs and mud pools to the left. And a borehole called Drottningarhola or Queen’s borehole. The trail is at times steep and narrow, and there was a lot of horse manure on parts of the trail, as there are guided horse riding tours to Reykjadalur Valley.
Soon after you will come to a canyon called Djúpagil, and there is a waterfall that gets its name from the canyon, Djúpagilsfoss waterfall, the best view of the waterfall is from up the trail. From there you cross the river and continue on the path on the other side of the river.
At one point the steam covers the path, so you don’t see where you are going. On your right-hand side, you will find some boiling mud pools and beautiful hot pools, one of which is heavenly blue.This area is so colourful; green grass, steam, blue river, hot pots, soda springs, greyish blue mud pools, patches of silicon and sulphur – all blending in with nature.
Caution is advised when you step here though when you leave the trail and visit the hot pools. Due to the fact that the temperatures are very high, bathing in this pools is highly discouraged.
If you walk down to these hot pools and mud pools, stay on the small path leading to the pools.
One never knows where the mud pools are located and if you get off the path you can step through the earth and into the next mud pool or hot pool, which is just beneath the surface. That will cause serious injury, so let’s extreme caution is advised.
Further up the river is the confluence, where the hot river meets the cold river. The further up the valley you choose a spot, the hotter the river is. There are earthy banks with grass on both sides of the river, and even though these pathways don’t look pretty in nature, then something has to be done to protect this vulnerable spot.
Such board pathways have been put up in all of the most popular tourist destinations in my country to protect the delicate nature.Immediately above the river you will find Klambragil canyon and a beautiful hot spring area with a fumarole and boiling hot springs and mud pools.
The colours here are ever so beautiful. There is a creek in this little gorge, which creates a small pool.
When you walk back down to the bathing area, you will see the most colourful geothermal moss in the river. It is by a soda spring, and the colours are out of this world.
To reach the parking lot by the start of the hike to Reykjadalur you can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive up there in some 45 minutes. There are plenty of photo stops during the hike to the valley, so do bring your camera with you.
I always carry 2 cameras with me just in case. Bring your hiking shoes, swimsuit and a towel and something to eat and drink. This is nature, so there are no trash bins nor a toilet in Reykjadalur. There are some guided tours to this valley, and it is advisable that you take them, the terrain might prove to be a little bit treacherous to a novice.
Due to the masses of winter visitors to Reykjadalur the paths and nature have become downtrodden and in a bad shape, so Reykjadalur had to be closed off from the 30th of March – 12th of May 2018, while the ice melted and the tracks could be repaired. It is now open to visitors, but it is forbidden to stray from the trails.