You uncover ancient geothermal pools and dip into free waters with magnificent views. You should not miss two pools in the mountains and the valleys of the glacial volcanos.
Iceland is located in one of the earth's hot spots, resulting in high geothermal activity. It is surprising to discover that there are glaciers on the island. Most tourists aim to find themselves taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon in the south of Iceland. You will need the assistance of tour guides or rangers to locate the Seljavallalaug or Seljvavellir pool- an artificial pool constructed into a mountainside with breathtaking natural surroundings.
When you are driving from Reykjavík, heading south on the main ring road, a couple of hours (2-3 hours), you will go past Hvolsvöllur and Selfoss. Before you reach Skógafoss, you should not miss the left turn that leads to 'Seljavellir.' It is pretty easy to locate the place with a tour guide or a ranger. This is where you have an entire hot spring swimming pool if you are lucky not to find other visitors.
The Seljvavellir pool is accessible to those who can find this hidden facility. Most visitors miss this spot when they focus on highlights. The infrastructure was built in 1923 along a narrow valley. It is fed by the infamous Eyjafjallajökull (Eyjafjallajokull). Some visionaries built the pool to show the locals how to swim since many lived off fishing. The temperature of the water that trickles into it is about 20-30°C- not that warm but well for a swim.
One of the four walls of the pool is a mountainside rock, which provides the natural hot spring water from the melting of the volcano. The size of the pool is 25 meters long and 10 meters wide. Unfortunately, there are no showers by the pool, but the builders suggested dressing rooms. Volunteers and donations maintain the pool, so there is no entrance fee. Since there is no lifeguard, you become responsible the moment you visit the pool- that's why you may need a tour guide in case anything happens.
The real adventure starts from the Seljavellir car park. If you fancy a 15-30 minute walk, then you will enjoy the experience of locating the pool at the bottom of the valley. The trail is uneven, and you must cross a little stream at a certain point. The landscape surrounding the pool is pretty intense; it gives you a natural view of the valley as you enjoy a hot swim in the pool.
In 2010, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted starting on 14 April, filling the area with ash. During this period, the pool was covered by ash and could not be accessed. Donors and dedicated visitors assist in keeping the pool clean from volcanic ashes and safe for use. Its waters are believed to be good for the skin. Even in a foggy and rainy atmosphere, the water remains warm enough for skinny dipping- it might be a bit cold on a sunny day.
Another geothermal pool within the same driving hours from Reykjavík is the Strutslaug. It is also called Holmsarbotnalaug- a super cool hot spring neighbors a glacier river. There is more adventure to reach this spot if one fancies a 1-2 hour walk from the road, over black sands, and through green valleys. The track to the pool is well-marked from the road, so accessibility is guaranteed. This also means there are no facilities such as changing rooms, so be prepared for a natural experience.
The pool is split into two by a natural stone that forms a wall to the pools. The pool is about 8.5 meters long, 5 meters wide, and has a maximum depth of about 50 cm. You cannot resist bathing when you see the rising steam from the pool. The
The water is quite muddy, so avoiding movements in the pool is necessary to prevent the water from turning brown. Dipping in the cold river after bathing in the pool is quite relieving. The breathtaking landscape with spotted green fields makes a hidden gem. The Icelandic highlands make it suitable for enjoying tranquility and serenity as you enter a relaxing mode. The temperatures of about 30 -45 °C make the bath refreshing.
The source of the hot spring waters might be the Torfajokull glacier or the Mýrdalsjökull glacier volcano since the pool is between these two natural features. For decades and centuries, this geothermal pool has been used for bathing. These spots are free, and no admission fee is required—You need to shed some sweat and clean up in the geothermal pool – a free warm bath.
Most people do not get to visit these places due to the lack of super jeeps to take them through the uneven roads that lead to these hidden heavens. However, local tourism companies can make it easy for you if you need an extra hike or trek in the highlands. These places are less known because they are included in some outdoor mountainside adventures.
When visiting these unknown places in the south of Iceland, you get to leave your footprints and carry memories with you. Knowing the benefits of taking a dip in the geothermal pools will give you an upper hand in maintaining youthful skin. This allows you to enjoy solitude, especially when the famous spas are crowded.
When you understand the importance of bathing in a natural hot spring pool, you will be determined to embrace more than the warmth but the adventure of discovering the hidden gems of South Iceland.
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