Getting Steamy in Iceland’s Reykjadalur

To find Reykjadalur, you simply need to follow your nose.

Literally translating to ‘steamy valley’, this landscape is filled with hot sulphur pits and bubbling rivers you can even take a dip in!

The route begins where the road ends next to a quaint cafe called Dalakaffi, which is also a handy spot for lunch if you forget to pack supplies, as well as the only toilet for miles around.

Reykjadalur is a hiker’s dream; while the most popular day walk is only 7 km in length, it is possible to extend the route to 30 km to explore the valley further. With only a day to see as much of Reykjadalur as possible we opted for the day hike to take in its highlights.

The route is windy and hilly from the beginning, and within the first kilometre our calves were already aching. Luckily a waterfall (yes another) came into view, giving us the excellent excuse for a photo opportunity and definitely not an excuse to rest.

Just past the highest hill at the beginning of the dirt path the route sharply plummets, and opens into a panoramic valley spotted with steamy pits, a great rocky chasm, and flocks of sheep. Most eye-catching however was the famed hot river – the region’s geothermal activity naturally heats the water in the river, turning it into a natural hot tub!

After a morning of hiking, the thought of ‘chilling out’ in a hot tub had us racing to the river, narrowly avoiding the molten sulphur pits along the way.

Word of warning for the more modest hikers, the ‘changing rooms’ are simply planks of wood to give you immediate privacy; wear your swimsuit if you do not want to flash anyone!

In the summer the area is swarmed with visitors, but time your visit in the early morning or during the shoulder season and Reykjadalur should be relatively quiet.

Of course, you’ll still have to compete with the locals.

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