Although the north west region of Iceland was only permanently settled by Norwegians in the mid 19th century, a natural hot pool located about 18 km north of the town of Saudhakrokur was already mentioned as being enjoyed by the great outlaw hero Grettir, protagonist of Grettis Saga, one of the famous Icelandic sagas from the Middle Ages.  You guessed it:  I was headed for that hot pool!

We were told about the Grettislaug hot pool over dinner but warned that the access road was unpaved and very rough.  Undaunted, and even though it was after 10 p.m., we decided to give it a try.  Thanks to Saudhakrokur being only about 100 km south of the Arctic Circle and since it was the beginning of August, the sun had not set yet.  Crawling along at 25 km per hour on gravel, with only some sheep and a few cute Icelandic horses looking up to see us go by, we reached the end of the road and a closed cow gate.  On the other side stood a simple wooden house with a sign “Reykir” on it,  next to a small camping site. Looking down toward the sea, there were some steam plumes visible amidst rocks, reassuring us that this was the place we were looking for.

After asking for permission to go down to the pool, we drove down to within 40 meters of the sea.  Not a soul in sight except for seagulls.  By now it was about 11 p.m., the sun had set, the light was slowly fading and the low clouds added to a slightly eerie atmosphere.  Excellent opportunity for skinny dipping!   Ohhhh, the delight of clearest warm sweet thermal water of about 39° C – absolutely perfect!  There were two pools, one larger, the other smaller, enclosed with medium sized natural stones of the common variety and ground covered with black sand.  Standing on this sand, occasional warmer water bubbled up from the earth’s interior through my toes.  A magical experience indeed!  And all this within 30 meters of the ocean!

We decided to come back early next day (this time with swimsuits on) and were lucky enough to meet the owner of the place taking a morning swim: a venerable gentleman with a shock of white hair and sparkling eyes, speaking limited English and very proud of his 10 children and 21 grandchildren all of them now scattered in all parts of Iceland and some abroad.   He had built the stone enclosures to the pools himself and operated the campsite as well as being a fisherman. It is this type of encounter that makes individual travel so special and unique. Next expedition:   to Drangey Island with his boat to see puffins and other birds!

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1 Comment

  1. So feine Fotos, Zen-Aida! Da kann man sich ja so richtig in die Landschaft hineintraeumen!

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