Day 3 Highlights: Secret Lagoon, Hrunalaug Hot Spring, Hjalparfoss, Þjóðveldisbærinn, Gjáin Waterfalls, Háifoss, Landmannalaugar
Thank you so much for all your New Year wishes! It’s really nice to read all of your well wishes and it got me out of my break – this break is getting too long! Just in case you forgot where we ended off on Day 2, we camped for the night next to Gullfoss waterfall in our campervan.
We woke up on Day 3 to a cooling 14 degrees Celsius at around 8 in the morning. After washing up and taking a few more shots of Gullfoss, we drove off towards Flúðir, a small village located about 30 minutes drive away from Gullfoss. Flúðir is perhaps well-known for its Secret Lagoon (Gamla Laugin) – the oldest swimming pool made in Iceland in 1891. We originally wanted to head there for a shower and a quick dip to warm ourselves up (still weren’t very accustomed to the cool temperature in Iceland yet), only to realise that we had reached there too early (it opens only at 10 a.m. during the summer season). Not wanting to waste precious time waiting for the lagoon to open, we head to the Flúðir campsite instead to shower and made ourselves a quick breakfast.
Note: Website of Secret Lagoon with the admission fees and opening hours can be found here.
Hrunalaug Hot Spring
I have to say Hrunalaug Hot Spring is a lot more secretive than the Secret Lagoon – its location on Google Maps led us to this wooden sign, and after checking with the locals and a bit of trouble, we managed to find the parking lot of the Hrunalaug Hot Spring. From the parking lot, a short and easy 5-minute walk is all we need to reach the hot spring.
Hrunalaug Hot Spring is a small hot spring with a not-enclosed small hut for one to change in. The site is really quiet and peaceful and it would have been an incredible experience to take a dip here but having already showered and wrapped up in warm clothes, getting wet again proved to be too much trouble for me (getting all the towels, change into swimming costumes etc… yes I’m just lazy haha.) I read an article online that the family who owned the hot spring are contemplating closing it down permanently due to the wear and tear and vandalism the hot spring suffers on a daily basis – so if you are planning to visit this hot spring during your Iceland trip, please respect the place and the people taking care of it so that future generations can continue to enjoy this beautiful hot spring!
Note: Do note that the location on Google map is not very accurate – follow the signboard when you see it or use these coordinates: 64.132806, -20.255029. Parking is free and there’s no admission. However, there’s a donation box next to the hot spring – if you used it, you should donate some to help maintain the place!
Leaving Hrunalaug Hot Spring behind, we head back to Route 30 (Selfoss) and took a left turn to Route 32 (Árnes), then finally turned in into a small road to Hjalparfoss (total 40-minute drive). Contrasted against the unique basalt columns (the irregular brown columns – very evident on the left side of the photo), Hjalparfoss is a two-stepped waterfall where the rivers Fossá and Þjórsá join together to create a majestic and beautiful view. Benches are set up on top at the parking area so we had our sandwich lunch there while watching the waterfalls converge together. We also watched three locals donning their fishing gear and – I feel so cold and shivery while watching them – waded into the lake. Salmon and trout fishing (catch and release) are popular here during the summer. Didn’t stay to see if they caught anything, hope they did!
Þjóðveldisbærinn (don’t ask me how to pronounce it – I think we can’t pronounce at least half of the names throughout our Iceland trip haha) is located just a 5-minute drive away from Hjalparfoss.
Þjóðveldisbærinn is a Commonwealth farmhouse re-constructed in 1974 based on what experts thought it would have been in the ancient times, based on the building remains of Stöng. The farmhouse is open every year from 1 June to 31 August, so it was already closed when we reached the farmhouse. Though we weren’t able to see how it looks like on the inside, the outside is already an amazing and beautiful view. Covered with lush greenery from the ground to the roof, it’s one of the most unique houses I’ve ever seen!
Note: Þjóðveldisbærinn is open only from 1 June to 31 August and admission fee is priced at ISK 750 (SGD 8; €5) per adult. More information can be found here.
X drove the car back on Route 32, then turned up to Route 327. After a 25-minute drive, we arrived at one of the hidden treasures of Iceland waterfalls – the Gjáin waterfalls. The real Gjáin waterfall is the one right at the back, but I think most travellers just group the waterfall and the rift zone together as one.
I think most travellers will miss out on these waterfalls because of their remote location and that’s what I love about these waterfalls – there’s hardly anyone there and it’s like we have entered a whole new lush green paradise and have the whole place to ourselves. Below is a short video of the rift zone!
Note: This magical place is located along Route 327, which should be accessed by a 4WD – I say “should” because though there are signs stating that only 4WD is allowed on this route, we still saw some 2WD. I’ve read on forums that though there is no law in Iceland stating that 2WD are not allowed on certain routes, it is still not advisable to take your 2WD up certain routes. This is because these routes may be bumpy and rough, which will increase the risk of damage to your car (especially under carrier damages) – and you definitely don’t want to spoil your holiday by having to spend time and waste money repairing the car.
From Gjáin waterfalls, you can also take a 30-minute walk to visit Stöng, the ruins of an ancient farmhouse from the Commonwealth Era (Þjóðveldisbærinn was reconstructed based on the ruins excavated from there.)
We continued driving on Route 327 for about 10 minutes, then turn left onto Route 332 (Laxargljufur) for another 20 minutes towards our next destination – Háifoss. Halfway while driving on Route 332, we picked up a couple – they had tried driving up to Háifoss in their 2WD, but Route 332 is simply too bumpy with lots of potholes that they parked their car along the road and wanted to try walking up to Háifoss (which probably will take them a few hours!)
Háifoss is the second highest waterfall in Iceland, where the river Fossá drops here from a height of 122 metres. I always have a thing for waterfalls so I can never get sick of watching them – each waterfall is so unique and so beautiful in its own way!
A pair of travellers, while on their way back to the car, told us that we can spot some rainbows if we walked further down the hiking path – and I’m so thankful they told us! Within the water mist we saw 2 beautiful rainbows (with many, many more to come for the rest of the trip), set against the striking landscape. Here’s another video of the waterfall!
Note: Háifoss is located along Route 332, which should be accessed by a 4WD – see all the naggy points above. Apparently one can also hike from Stöng to here, but will take about 5 to 6 hours – do it if you like a challenge!
We were originally planning to camp for the night at Háifoss, but as we still had quite a bit of time before sunset, we decided to head for Landmannalaugar campsite instead so that we can start the day there early. It was a really long drive – from Route 332 (the way we came from) we turned left at the junction onto Route 32, then continued straight onto Route F26, kept right onto Route F208 and finally turned right onto Route F224 (it will be really hard to get a signal there so it’s best to download the offline map onto your smartphone if you are using it as a GPS). It took us about 2.5 to 3 hours to reach there and the F-roads were so bumpy and full of potholes that our luggage was thrown from the back of the car to just behind our seats.
But the view was spectacular – it was a stark contrast to the lush green paradise we had experienced at Gjáin waterfalls. We were surrounded by many mountains and lava fields – a scene that I have never seen in any of my travels (so while I was trying to cope with the bumpiness of the ride, I couldn’t help ooh-ing and aah-ing at the lava fields).
Just before we reached Landmannalaugar campsite, there’s a small river to be crossed – we had no experience crossing rivers so we stayed on the side and waited (together with some other travellers) until we witnessed a few cars crossing the river. I had taken a video of our crossing but the video quality was just like our car ride to Landmannalaugar – incredibly bumpy (oops) but if you are interested you can check it out here.
We spent 2 nights here at Landmannalaugar campsite, so I will be blogging more about it (essential information and what we did there) on our next travelogue! Now I’ll leave you with two shots of the Northern Lights we saw that night – till the next travelogue!
This trip is made possible with our partnership with Kuku Campers, who had kindly given us a media discount for the rental of our campervan.
Thank you so much Kuku Campers! All opinion and experiences blogged are still our own!
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