At first the quiet little town of Hveragerði doesn’t look much different than other towns in Iceland, apart from having more trees than most towns. But as you look closer you start to notice plumes of smoke rising around it. That’s in fact where the town‘s name comes from, as Hveragerði is losely translated into „the town of hotsprings“, and the smoke is actually steam. The hotsprings have been utilized for the longest time to heat up greenhouses all year round to produce fresh vegetables and flowers for the locals. This geothermal area also has a little river flowing nearby named Varmá, which means the „Warm river“. Next to the river there is a popular hiking trail that leads over the volcano Hengill and over to Þingvellir national park.
In June I took a couple from the United States on a short hiking trip up the trail, the weather shifted from rain to fog, to the sun almost coming out in mere 4 hours. In my humble opinion it is always nice to have a „carrot“ at the end of the hike, and that carrot is a part of the river that is warm enough to bathe in it.
The trail itself is sometimes not a trail at all, only markers to show us where to go. This is rather unique to Iceland and feels more natural to me. The trail is sometimes covered in hoof prints so expect seeing some horses on the way. I know the trail is used by a horse riding tour company on a regular basis.
We walked up through hills and mountains, admiring the river with its waterfall below us. Finally we made it up to the part of the river that is warm enough for bathing and lounged in it after the easy hike. There are multiple pools to enjoy in the river, but no privacy when changing so wearing your bathing suit while hiking might be an option for some.
The water gets progressively warmer the further up stream you go. So if it’s not quite warm enough, just walk to the next pool above you and try it out. Before we got in an Indian couple called to us „come right in, it’s very nice“, after changing we chatted with the nice couple while we looked around us and felt the serenity of the icelandic wilderness.
On our way back we spotted multiple sheep, one ewe even had triplet lambs with her, no doubt she has the Þoka gene, a gene allowing ewes to have triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets or even sextuplets on occasion.
The sheep didn’t mind our presence, no doubt they are used to the many hikers that pass by.
We at Iceland Unlimited can safely recommend this hike as it is both easy and beautiful, and the bathing is sublime.