Last May I planned a trip to Iceland with four of my friends that was full of fun, adventure, exploration, and seeing many of the wonders of this beautiful country.
To begin our Iceland adventure we flew out of Los Angeles on WOW air, one of the only non-stop flights to Keflavik, Iceland. WOW air has fairly low-cost flights but there are some serious trade-offs when choosing this carrier. They have a very restrictive carry-on policy that charges $40 each way for what you would normally be able to take on many other carriers without charge (small overhead suitcase). It was a good thing I wore my heavy jacket for the flight because of limited packing and how cold it was on the plane. WOW air does not provide any complementary food or drink on the 10-hour international flight. In short, if you want to take an inexpensive flight to Iceland, be prepared that WOW air will be a budget flight in all means.
After landing at Keflavik International Airport we went to a rental car agency I had researched online as one that should be easy and convenient. It definitely was not that simple as we went through a terrible shuttle experience from the airport trying to locate the agency. For some reason it always seems to be high drama for me at the rental car portion of traveling but once we hopped into our 4WD Toyota RAV4 and raced out of the airport towards our first adventure, all the drama was forgotten.
We headed straight towards our first planned hike to Reykjadalur Hot Springs which was a perfect way to get rested up from an overnight flight. Reykjadalur is located in a geothermal area in South Iceland near the town of Hverageri. The hot steamy River Varma flows through the valley and town of Hverageri making it a beautiful must see while in Iceland. The hike is about 2.5 miles of off and on steep terrain through lava sites with the river running along side. The smell of sulfur from the underground hot springs bubbling up can be strong as you reach the increasingly heavy steam coming up at the boiling sites. The parking lot at the the trail head has a small café where you can each lunch. Make sure to check the hours of business carefully as we learned about how easily it is to miss out on eating due to the fact that it is day light most of the day and easy to forget about time.
Once at the safe area to enter the hot springs to swim and soak in there is a platform to set your belongings on and partitions to provide privacy while changing clothes. Bring a bathing suit and towel with you to dry off with after enjoying the relaxing soak. Prior to leaving on this trip I purchased the small, quick- dry travel towel from Amazon that came in handy for most of the trip but I suggest buying the large size towel as mine was too small. Make sure to read all the signs along the path because there are some areas that are very hot and can be a danger to sit in. Keep walking until you come to the appropriate site to soak in which will be marked as safe.
After a full and exhausting day we arrived at Ljosafossakoli Hostel to stay for our first night. We arrived very late and were concerned that we may not be able to get inside the hostel. The owners left the door to our room open with a welcoming note attached that provided us with instructions for our stay. I was pleasantly surprised having never stayed at a hostel before by a very clean and comfortable experience with several bathrooms and a kitchen available where we could warm up some coffee and snacks. We had our own room with towels and sheets provided and a beautiful view of outside. The blackout curtains on the windows were perfect due to the long daylight hours in Iceland during May. We had a good sleep but had to wake up early the next morning to hit the trail towards adventures at Golden Circle!