"We travel not to escape our life, but to stop life from escaping us"
If you are expecting a hotel resort with all the modern comforts and I want to say upfront Seljavallalaug is probably not for you. However if you are up for an adventure and feel like getting an authentic old style Icelandic experience thermal pool then this is definitely somewhere you should carve out time to visit.
Take this road all the way to the end, park and then look into the distance and your will see a 'V' where the valley is. Walk towards that 'V' for about 20-25 minutes and you will find it. These were the direction given to us and we were also told ' don't turn back before 2 minutes, you might think you are lost but keep going'. So this is what we did, driving up a bumpy road to the end we parked our car and got out to look around. As described we could see the 'V' in the valley out in the distance so packed our bag and set out on our hike into nowhere.
Surrounded by amazing views, a river meandering along beside us the hike alone is worth the trip. We walk easily and Lucy takes a shoulder ride we check our watch to see how long we have been hiking for every so often. Just when we are starting to think we had taken a wrong turn or had driven up the wrong road, around a small corner to the left sat a pool. At the far end a white building with a landmark sign written in Icelandic and various pipes protruding from the rock cliff the pool is built against feeding warm water in.
The 'changing room' is a little like a stable and the water is completely unfiltered or treat which does mean it has a greeny tinge, but for us this only added to it. We dive into the changing rooms and put on our swim gear then into the hot pool for some swimming, playing and relaxing. A few more people arrive to swim but other than that we have the entire hot spring to ourselves. We spend the next few hours enjoying the pool and the amazing scenery until we are forced to hike back due to the fading light.
Now, I could tell you how to get to Seljavallaug. Drop a pin in a map or give a step by step guide but where would the fun in that be. You have the name and a rough idea. Half the fun of going somewhere like this is finding your own way. If you do then you can expect to enjoy your own little slice of an authentic Icelandic experience and man does it make for a good travel tale.
We pull on our jackets and hats and lace up our shoes. Stepping out of the hotel the air is cool but comfortable. We take a left and head down the round the the start of the tunnel mountain trail. Tilley is in the front carrier and Lucy is scooting along beside me. We had talked about hiking the tunnel mountain trail the night before and Lucy was adamant that she didn't need any help to get to the top. So as mum sat down to enjoy on of the programs at the film festival we took the first steps up the tunnel mountain trail hear.
The trail loops back and forward with flat, steeper, stoney and muddy sections. For the first hour Lucy runs ahead and waits for me to catch up. Then zooms ahead again. Slowly though and inevitably she starts to tire. two thirds up the trial and we stop for a rest. Lucy sits on her log snacking on a cliff bar she had stashed in her jacket pocket and we all have a sip of water. I can tell she wants to go walk down but after a little coaxing she decides that she can make it the rest of the way. We steadily make our way up the last third of the trail. Lucy now determined to get there without being carrier. She scurries over the last section of rocky trail and I find her sitting in a big red muskoka chair looking very pleased with herself.
We head up the last few meters of trail and Lucy finds another log to sit on and produces a second cliff bar. This kid has got it figured out. We eat our snack and enjoy the view and I give her a huge hug. This is the first hike she has done completely under her own steam and i can tell she is tired and it wasn't easy. she hug me back and I tell her how amaing she has done and prund I am of her. As we start to make our way down Lucy pipes up 'I think we should go down and get have ice cream tonight, is that a good plan'. 'Yes', I reply 'I think that's a great plan'.
The alarm goes off and we roll out of bed early in the morning as the sun is still rising. Loading our 2 sleepy girls into carriers and romping out to the trail head grabbing some snacks from breakfast on the way past. Today we have a goal! Head up to Pulpit rock before the crowds get there to and enjoy some snacks and peaceful scenery with Lucy and Tilley.
Sheena and I are both fans of active holidays and more often than not come back more tired than we left from a trip. So being in Norway with the chance, and time to hike up to pulpit rock it was a no brainer. Tilley riding in the front carrier with Sheena and Lucy in the back carrier with me. W have learnt from other hikes that whatever your plan be flexible when hiking with toddlers. Lucy has spurts where she want to walk (or usually climb) section. Tilley just as spurts and need her nappie changed. Whether its one or the other it slows down progress but in doing so i've realized that it also adds to experience. Watching Lucy scale a section of rocky steps and see how proud she is when she get to the top. I wouldn't give that up to be 30 minutes earlier.
So on a beautiful sunny Norwegian day we meander our way up the trail to pulpit rock, stopping for nappies and snacks. The hike is fairly easy a couple hours and we are rounding the corner and opening up to a beautiful vista. You can see all the way down each side to the valley and pulpit rock juts out, as a prominent, and amazing as all the pictures we had seen in our research before we left. Lucy being the daredevil fearless and most 2 year old's instantly wants to run over to the edge and look over. We set down our carriers near the back wall and walk over to the edge then lay in out tummies and wriggle so our head lean over and we can see all the way down (The tummy scoot is the technique we practice for everything that she could fall into or over. It serves me well at heights and the edge of water and I haven't lost her yet). We all take our obligatory pictures and then sit down away from the edge and watch the three or four other people do the same.
We spend an hour of so exploring the area and as more people arrive and it starts to fill up with tour groups, we are beginning our way back down. We turn the corner and Lucy make the observation that that was very high followed by the sentence ' that was beautiful daddy'. There it is, why I love taking my daughter to places like this and let them experience new places. As we hike down Tilley falls limp in Sheena's carrier and not long after Lucy head butts me in the back of the neck. Two girls completely exhausted after a day of awesome exploration.