Geothermal Baths in Unusual Landscape

The baths are located in Hringsgil ravine.

The baths are located in Hringsgil ravine.

Vala Hafstað

New geothermal baths in a highly unusual location in West Iceland are scheduled to open November 20. The baths, to be called Giljaböð, will be operated by the family-owned travel service at Húsafell in Borgarfjörður, Morgunblaðið reports.

The idea for the place was born after a new hydropower plant, Urriðafellsvirkjun, constructed by the family business, began operation last year. The road built in connection with the construction of the plant stretches past a unique location called Hringsgil ravine. This place, which includes a most unusual cliff, has been a source of hot water for as long as people remember.

To materialize the plan for geothermal baths, more hot water was needed. “We had to drill nine boreholes,” Unnar Bergþórsson, one of the owners, explains. Finally, the ninth borehole produced five liters per second of 47° C (117° F) water. The decision was made to pipe the water a 200-m (656-ft) distance to the area where the new bath facility has been built. There, the water flows out at 39-41 degrees C.

To access the new baths, you must descend steps that take you down into the ravine. The area is known for its natural beauty.

Access to the baths will be limited. “We will only offer organized trips to the place – for up to 20 people at a time,” Unnar states. A bus will take tourists from the Húsafell Information Center to the location. In Hringsgil ravine, two hot tubs await the tourists, as well as a facility with changing rooms.

The hot tubs are made with rocks from the surrounding area. They work like dams, for they were dug into the soil, until a rock was reached. The bottom was covered with rocks and then insulated with gravel.

Unnar stresses that the environmental impact of the operation is minimized. No cleaning agents will be used in the area. The shower facility will not even have any soap. Guests will instead get free admission to the Húsafell pool afterwards.

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