Seltún - a highlight of the Reykjanes peninsula

When you arrive in Keflavík only a few can imagine the impressive landscape hidden in this area. Inevitably you cross this part of Iceland on the 60-minute drive from the airport to the metropolis. The way back is often the only visit to this part of the world. But the peninsula immediately adjacent to Reykjavík has much more to offer than the expressway to the airport.

Hot springs at Krýsuvík

You feel inevitably transported back to your childhood when some prankster found it funny to delight those present with the smell of rotten eggs. At that time the smell came from ampoules, here it is 'natural'. As you explore the bubbling and hissing area on the boardwalk, however, you gradually get used to the smell of sulfur.

Bubbles and hisses at all corners
Bubbles and hisses at all corners
Wooden walkways lead safely through the geothermal area
Wooden walkways lead safely through the geothermal area

In the middle of the green landscape, nature has torn a scar that glows in all earthy colors. Beneeth Iceland, the Eurasian and American continental plates drift apart by several centimeters each year. The break runs right under the Reykjanes peninsula. This is accompanied by earthquakes and active volcanism. At the end of 2019, several earthquakes were measured daily in the Krýsuvík volcanic system with its central volcano Trölladyngja. The volcanic activity, however, is in the green area. The last eruption in Krýsuvík was in the 12th century.

The area is quarry-like in the middle of the green landscape
The area is quarry-like in the middle of the green landscape
Warning: Boiling, hot springs
Warning: Boiling, hot springs
Earthquake Center (December 2019)
Center of Earthquakes in December 2019
The volcanoes are in "green state " in December 2019'
The volcanoes are in "green state" in December 2019'

If you want to stay up-to-date on current volcanic activities, you can find information at the overview of Icelandic volcanoes, at the Weather Office or on the website of the Lava Center in Hvolsvöllur. With the latter, you can optionally be notified of earthquakes by email.

Boiling water in the high temperature area of ​​Seltún
Boiling water in the high temperature area of ​​Seltún
Nature colors the soil rusty red, crossed by hot watercourses
Nature colors the soil rusty red, crossed by hot watercourses
A symphony in gray-blue and white-yellow around the mud holes
A symphony in gray-blue and white-yellow around the mud holes

Depending on your interest in the information boards and photo breaks, the wooden walkways will take between 20 and 30 minutes. However, if you want to enjoy the spectacular view, you should bring about 40 minutes more, good shoes and a little fitness. At the top of the paved path, a narrow path leads up the hill to the left. Most of the time you see a few people running and get an idea of ​​how to move safely through the thermal area towards the view.

Once at the top, you cannot see enough of the landscape. Behind the geothermal area is one of the deepest lakes in Iceland, the Kleifarvatn. He became famous in 2000 when he quickly 'lost' a fifth of his water volume after a strong earthquake. The famous Icelandic author Arnaldur Indriðason processed the story a few years later in his crime novel "Kleifarvatn" (english titel "The Draining Lake"). In the meantime the lake has recovered and shines in old splendor.

A narrow patg leads up the hill - view of the sea and the two lakes Grænavatn and Gestsstaðavatn
A narrow path leads up the hill - view of the sea and the two lakes Grænavatn and Gestsstaðavatn
Sometimes it goes through the ocher-colored landscape - view of the thermal area, the visitor car park and Lake Kleifarvatn
Sometimes it goes right through the ocher-colored landscape. Visitors can park at Lake Kleifarvatn

If you look to the other side towards the sea, there are two volcanic explosion craters filled with water. Grænavatn, up to 46 meters deep and with a distinctive, turquoise green color. Its glow is due to thermal algae that absorb sunlight. Opposite, on the right side of road 42 is the smaller lake Gestsstaðavatn.

View from the hill towards the sea to the wide country.
View from the hill towards the sea to the wide country.

Krisuvik/Seltún Parking, Island 63°53'44.4"N 22°03'07.4"W