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Hiking to Seljavallalug

Have you ever dreamt of Hiking through the beautiful Icelandic mountains to find Seljavallalaug Pool. Surrounded by nothing but snow, glacial streams and giant rock faces, this is one of Icelands hidden gems.

I originally wrote this short story as a submission for the World Nomads writing competition in 2020. The story shares my experience of a random adventure that we took back in 2019 when visiting Iceland for the first time.

It’s a little bit of a different post to normal but I thought I’d share it anyway to show you why you should visit and go hiking in Iceland if you haven’t already! Let me know what you guys think! Have you been to Seljavallalaug Pool?

what is seljavallalaug Pool?

Seljavallalaug Pool is one of the oldest outdoor swimming pools in Iceland, this amazing naturally heated pool is tucked away in the peaceful Icelandic mountains just a few hours south of the capital. If you’re looking for an off the beaten path adventure then this one is defiantly for you!

It has become more popular with tourists over recent years but is still one of the hidden Gems of Southern Iceland. The pool is cleaned only once a year and can sometimes be mis-used by tourists. The pool is free to use to all. Please make sure you clean up after yourself and leave the pool and its facilties as you found them.

View from the pool
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how can i get there?

Located just off route 1 (the main road in Iceland), the pool is really accessible. You’ll have around a 40 minute hike to get there which is arguably one of the main highlights of visiting. 

The pool is around 30 minutes north of Vik and around 2 hours south of Reykjavik. If you’re planing a visit you’ll probably need to hire your own car or find specialist tour guide as the pool isn’t frequently visited by the standard tour companies in Iceland.

Check out my guide to driving in Iceland if you’re worried (It’s not that scary I promise)!

There’s a small car park just off the main road and you’ll have to walk through the mountains to get there. Bring a map or your phone incase you get lost.

Driving In Iceland
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The story

Now you know a little bit more about Seljavallalaug Pool and how to get there, here’s the story i submitted to the World Nomads competition.

The short story I wrote will hopefully paint a perfect picture on what it’s actually like to visit the pool and what to expect when you visit. It might not be what you’re expecting.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our trip to Iceland then check out my complete 4 day iceland itinerary!

Setting out

Taking the first step was so satisfying. Each crunch of the soft white snow beneath my feet echoed in my surroundings. This was a journey of adventure. Tall, intimidating mountains and their jagged edges peeked between the blankets of snow which covered them. Besides my footsteps there was silence. Calm. Peace. I was wrapped up well to try and deflect some of the harsh Icelandic winds, which for those who don’t know are very unforgiving.

I was venturing out into the wilderness in southern Iceland. Heading for the small and well-hidden Seljavallalaug Pool, one of the oldest outdoor swimming pools in Iceland, had been on my bucket list for some time now. The naturally heated pool is nestled deep in the mountains and away from everyday civilisation.

It was the middle of March and conditions were fair. The snowstorms of previous days had now subsided, which provided a much more tolerable environment for the hike. The mountains were also sheltering me from the persistent winds.

Hiking in Iceland to the pool
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The ascent

I truly was on my own in the mountains. Small shivering snowflakes now fell around me and brightened up the landscape even more. As my phone signal had failed, I now relied on following the footsteps of past adventurers, a rough sense of direction and the slightly raised paths of packed snow.

The silence is fading now. I can see a river in the distance. It gets closer and the sound of its presence clearer with every step. What had started as a rustling was now becoming a much more profound burble. I could see water lapping down the side of the mountain, snaking through the crevasses of rock that surrounded my path. The river is so clear and looks soft. Dunking my fingers was however a reminder of where I was… gloves back on!

Road to Seljavallalaug
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I passed across the river using stones and boulders laid by other who had tackled the obstacle. Once safely across and on my way again I paused for a second. Something was compelling me to just stand and listen. With each short breath I couldn’t help but feel more and more relax and present. I couldn’t help but smile to myself and feel such an inner warmth whilst out here alone. I closed my eyes and listened harder. Nothing. Just the trickle of water a stone’s throw away.

Who knew that being alone in such an empty space could be so fulfilling? This wasn’t what I’d expected at all, feeling so calm and warm whilst being so isolated gave me a new gratitude and feeling of inner peace. No worries. No fear of being lost. Just intense freedom.

i found the pool

I continued to walk now. After just a few hundred meters I had arrived at the pool which seemed to pop up from nowhere. There was nobody else here. The changing rooms were grotty and unkept. This was an anti-climax. One thing was for sure though, I hadn’t walked all this way in the blistering cold not to take a dip in this ancient pool!

This was it the moment I’d been waiting for all day. After slipping into my shorts (yes you read that correctly), I was ready. I scurried over to the pools edge and slowly climbed down the steel steps. The water was lukewarm, an improvement from the air temperature. As my feet touched the base of the pool, I quickly retracted them. The pool (or was it a pond?!) was as unkept as the changing rooms. Lined with Algae and muck. EW!

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After a quick dry down and change of attire I set out to retrace my steps. I paused as I had earlier. I had just realised something quite amazing. It’s not always the things that we set out to achieve or to see that give us the most happiness in life. I couldn’t help but grin profusely. I was rounding off my Trip in Iceland with an experience that had completely changed my perspective on life. An experience that I would take with me forever. A story that I could always look back to in times of uncertainty or struggle.

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So hopefully this short story gave you a little bit of an insight into why Seljavallaug is one of Iceland’s best hidden secrets and one of my personal favorite spots. Hopefully I inspired you to visit one day. What are your favourite places in Iceland? Let me know below!

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Hiking to Seljavalllaug Pool
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So you've heard all about Seljavallalaug pool? Or maybe you haven't! Here's a quick guide on one of Iceland's best-kept secrets. You'll find out first hand how to get there and why it's on top of my list of things to do in Iceland! via @dannyexplores
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