We traced the map to figure out the route to the Reykjadalur Hot Springs. Reykjadalur is a beautiful, geothermal valley located 90kms (1.5 hours) from the Keflavik Airport in the South Western part of Iceland. It’s name literally means ‘Steamy Valley’. The closest town and place for a bite is Hveragardi, 4kms away from the valley.
The husband and I had spent weeks reading up on the country and charting out the best routes. It was November and we had 5 hours of daylight. The weather app showed a chilly 2°C with winds at 10 mph and a high chance of rain.
Warned about long, lonely stretches of road, icy conditions and gales of wind that could easily topple cars over, we decided to limit our drive to 4 hours a day.
After parking our car, we started our brisk walk armed with bottles of water, energy bars, rain gear, a change of clothes and flashlights. We had been told that the place was crowded in summers but in November, there were only a handful of other cars and not a soul in sight. The cafe and restrooms at the base of the hike were closed and locked down. We hoped that we wouldn’t get drenched in a cold shower.
Multiple blogs had informed us of an easy 1 hour hike with horses that would cart the less inclined up the hills. But 10 minutes in and I was puffing and panting. There was not a horse in sight! Another 5 minutes and my skin was clammy with sweat. I was still recovering from those treacherous Xiaolongbaos.
The husband looked at me nervously, wondering if I’d collapse.
“Sweetheart, do you want to turn back?”. His breath escaped in puffs of smoke.
“No. Lets just stop for a bit.”
This was one of those times when I thanked my stars that the 6’2 framed husband could easily throw me on his shoulder and carry me down.
The first 30 minutes of the climb proved to be the steepest and the most arduous, leaving me gasping for breath. We stopped at every waterfall and stream cascading down the hills.
The undulating vista that stretched before us was hauntingly beautiful – the view was punctuated by columns of steam that rose up from the hot springs, the horizon was framed by ominous looking clouds that threatened a cold drizzle and beneath us was the ubiquitous yellow- green moss found all across the country. The place was solitary with only the gurgle of streams and the crunch of our footsteps breaking the silence.
We walked further up and were greeted by a turquoise blue pool of water that looked inviting, if it weren’t for the boards that warned us of temperatures that reached 100°C.
After 90 minutes of hiking with long pauses to catch our breath, we saw a stream that snaked its way through the valley. Wooden footpaths crisscrossed the river. Spartan wooden columns functioned as changing rooms. This wasn’t a place for the inhibited or fainthearted.
We wrapped a towel, changed into our swimming trunks and scurried to the water trying to stay warm as the cold wind nipped our skin.
Bliss! The water was comfortably hot. We realized that the water grew hotter further upstream and found ourselves toasty spots to wallow in. Not too hot, not too cold but just right!
What a luxurious feeling to soak in the hot water after the long trek. I could feel my muscles relax as I lounged and lazily watched the clouds in the sky. The husband and I held hands, dreading leaving the warm embrace of the spring to trudge back in the cold, but glad that we had made it this far.