A short distance off the Ring Road along the Golden Circle tour (see earlier post: Searching for Gold in the Golden Circle) is a fabulous afternoon hike in one of Iceland’s lesser-known spots: Reykjadalur or the “Smoky Valley”. Upon arriving at the head of the trail, it is instantly obvious where the name “Smoky Valley” came from: All the pillars of steam and smoke spiraling up into the sky!
Reykjadalur is a typical Icelandic natural wonder. The valley is surrounded by geothermal activity. There are bubbling mud pools, venting steam, boiling hot springs, and if you bring your swim suit, a natural hot pool at the top of Mount Oklelduhnukur. All this in a couple of hours hike!
As we pulled off the Ring Road and headed into Hengill towards the start of the hike, we were utterly stunned to see a real live golf course in the middle of this incredibly active geothermal valley! Can you imagine playing golf in the midst of steaming vents and gurgling mud pools? What if you ball rolled into one? Would you pick it out or add a point to your score?
Here is a photo of the golf course in the “smoky valley”….Fore!
At the head of the trail: Feeling a little uneasy about hiking through all this crazy stuff! But “When in Rome”!
Setting off on the two-hour hike. Easy, right. Yet a bit on edge about all the natural hazards:
There is even a sign to remind you!
Not a great picture yet it illustrates the perils of this hike! Plus it shows the surreal experience of hiking through steam.
We were soon passed by a couple of hardy Icelanders, dressed in swimsuits and carrying their towels, on a race to the top for a quick dip in the hot pools. But the REI group (in picture below) couldn’t pass us!
Looking down below at the boiling, bubbling stream:
The views of the “Smoky Valley” are stunning and quite different from other parts of Iceland that I have seen.
The “Smoky Valley” is stunning! Look at the color of the black rock juxtaposed to the verdant, green valley. Incredible!
The end of the hike…we made it without any mishaps!
Soon after our hike, we were back in the car en route to Reykjavik. All I could think about was what an amazing day it had been! The Golden Circle tour was quite magical and the hike definitely let off some steam. I was looking forward to another fabulous dinner, a good night sleep and my next adventure.
As I closed my eyes, I reflected on my day and came to the obvious conclusion that Iceland, the land of fire and ice, is a land of pure wonder and dreams.
Stay tuned….Next post will cover the highlight of my trip to Iceland. A drive along the coast and visit to the remote, serene Skaftafell National Park.