Last month I had the pleasure to travel to Iceland and stay in the capital city Reykjavik. While there, we toured the city, traveled the Golden Circle, saw Icelandic horses, and much more. One of the best days we had there was when we woke up in the morning and went to Klambragil river, Reykjadalur and in the afternoon we drove to the iconic Blue Lagoon. Both of these places have one major thing in common; they are both fed by hot springs and no matter the outside temperature, the water is like a hot tub!
It was the second to last day of our trip and I awoke early.This was the day we were going to the Blue Lagoon, but it is a very busy destination and our appointment time was not until 4pm. If you are going to do this book at least 1-2 weeks in advance and try to go during the day so you can see how blue the water is. While my most kind, beautiful, smart girlfriend caught a few more winks of sleep, I spent some time on the laptop figuring out what we would do with the early part of the day. I was looking for a more natural adventure where we could see the other type of hot springs. While stumbling my way through endless commercialized suggestions, I finally came upon one talking about the Klambragil river, Reykjadalur.
The Klambragil river, Reykjadalur is a small river that is geothermally heated and flows down the side of a mountain. I read a little bit about it online and decided this would be what we did with our morning. After about an hour’s ride from our Air BnB, we arrived at the base of the mountain where there is a lot to park your car and a seasonal coffee/snack shop. The hike is approximately 3.5 km up and it is a moderate level hike. Make sure to wear boots for the water on the trail in some locations.
As you hike up, you will continuously think you are nearing the top but then from behind one mountain top peaks another! During the trip up you will pass by many geothermal springs where you can see boiling water coming out of the ground. At one point on the hike, you will get to a place that is all old lava, a field of boiling pools of water, and a bridge crossing what looks like a boiling witch’s cauldron. The area is like being on another planet with strange lava formations constantly making you think you saw someone or something. Just beyond this amazing landscape, you come to a vista where you can see people swimming in the river.
When you get down by the river, there is a wooden boardwalk and some small structures to change behind (modest folks watch out). It is a strange experience to strip down from winter mountain hiking gear to a bathing suit and climb in the water, but trust me it is worth it. Once you get in, the water is around 100-104 degrees Fahrenheit. While sitting in the river we got to look around this pristine mountain top with perma snow in some places and geothermal springs in others. After our swim, we got out of the water and here is where it got interesting; at the same time that you are warm to the core from the water, the air hits your skin like a cold hairdryer removing most all the moisture.
After quickly changing, we then started our descent down the mountain to head over to the Blue Lagoon. The whole way back down the mountain we stopped to take selfies and stare off the different cliffs. There are many waterfalls and lots of vistas. In this area there is not much wildlife that we could see, mostly just birds. The climb back down took us around 40 minutes without delaying too much because we were timing it to make sure we were not late to our appointment at the Blue Lagoon.
We took the car for a quick drive down the freeway and got to the Blue Lagoon just at our appointment time and jumped in line to get bracelets, which is your form of money and key for you locker there. Once in, men and women split up to go to the locker rooms, shower, and change for the pool. In Iceland, whenever you go in a public pool, you must shower naked and use soap. They are pretty serious about this one, including signs showing you where on your body to wash and monitors to ensure people are following the rules.
After showering and getting ready, we met in the main atrium where there is a pool you can walk into and then go outside into the main lagoon. Once in the lagoon, the water is a pretty blue color caused by the silica in the geothermal water. There is a place to the left that looks like a bar where you can go to grab some of the silica and put it on your face and shoulders as a mud mask. The Blue Lagoon is huge and a very busy place where you can do anything, including visit the lagoon, get a massage, use the sauna, steam room, get dinner, visit the gift shop, and just relax. We chose to do the lagoon, steam room, sauna, and got a drink in the lagoon at the swim-up bar.
The lagoon was a great temperature probably 98-100 degrees Fahrenheit and very enjoyable to float around with the water being a little more buoyant than normal water. While in the water, we got masks and wandered the entire pool, both site seeing and people watching. The neat part of a place like this is, that being a global attraction, it has a very diverse crowd. While walking around, we located the swim-up bar and got a drink, found a seat, and hung out for a bit. After that we located the sauna and went back and forth between that and the lagoon for a little bit. After enjoying all that, we decided it was about time to head out but that a steam in the steam room would warm us enough to face the cold walk back to the locker room to shower and change.
Once we were warmed all the way up, we separated and went to our lockers to change. Upon leaving, we had a 45-minute ride home, where we compared and contrasted our experiences at both locations and came to the determination that both are must-see sites. The pros and cons we came up with for each place are listed here:
Klambragil river, Reykjadalur Pros : Natural beauty, free, no appointment, fewer people
Klambragil river, Reykjadalur Cons: Physical, no bathrooms/privacy
Blue Lagoon Pros: Blue Water, State of the art facility, experience
Blue Lagoon Cons: Expensive, lots of people, not natural
Overall, my Iceland trip was amazing and very affordable. Through using WOW Airlines, AirBnB, and Sixt cars rentals, we kept the trip expenses down. I will be writing more blogs about this trip and all my other trips every Tuesday. Stay tuned, my next trip is to visit my brother Kevin and his better half Meghan in Saint Croix on January 17th-25th.