Gunnuhver: Iceland’s Largest Hot Spring and Mud Pools

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Iceland is a place that is sure to leave you speechless with the stunning views of snow blanketed landscapes, glacier lagoons, gigantic volcanic peaks, geysers, flipping, and floating icebergs, sweeping black sand beaches, turf houses, the steaming lava fields, and the staggering waterfalls. These are just a few things that are highlighted, but the list is endless, at every step you experience something unexplored and untouched, which is sure to surpass your expectations. This all year around destination is extremely famous and known or its geysers, hot springs, set on a volcanic land. And to your surprise, there is one place that seems unbelievable, a bit dangerous but yet so fascinating and thrilling. It is the Gunnuhver Hot Springs. Though the name seems just like one of the many hot springs but as correctly said by someone that there is a story behind every name of a mountain, waterfall, geyser, hot spring pools and cliff in Iceland, so does Gunnuhver. So, let’s just dive in and get to know about the area up and close.

car driving in front of Gunnuhver hot spring in Reykjanes Peninsula Iceland

The Geological Aspect of Gunnuhver

The complete area, which is close to Reykjanes lighthouse is collectively known as Gunnuhver. This is located in the most southern tip of the Reykjanes Peninsula and is indeed one of the most unique places in Iceland. The area around Gunnuhver is one of the extremely active geothermal areas with mud pools and steam vents. You can feel and sense the boiling vents under your feet, and if you dare enough to find walk past the wooden planks traversing the area, you will see the biggest mud pool in Iceland or Gunnuhver hot spring. The mud pool is formed when the steam from the geothermal pool water condenses and mixes with the water on the surface. But the gases such as carbon dioxide along with hydrogen sulfide make the water acid. Gunnuhver has Iceland´s largest mud pool that is 20 meters (65 feet) wide and boiling vigorously. There are two ramps, one is closer to Gunnuhver itself from where you can see the spring and hear the roaring noise, the boiling water, and the steam on your face too. The other one is on Kísilhól a silica hill that will give you the perfect view of Gunnuhver hot spring and surroundings. This area is surrounded by lava fields, 100 different craters, spewing cloudy steam, violently boiling seawater, high geothermal areas, and bird cliffs that seem a bit dangerous but creates create a delightfully surreal landscape.

Gunnuhver hot spring in Reykjanes Peninsula Iceland

The History Behind the Name “Gunnuhver”

In Iceland, there is a story behind every valley, canyon, fissure, crack, or mountain and so does Gunnuhver. The haunting story dates back to about 400 years ago. There used to be a woman named Gudrun called “Gunna” who lived in a small house, which was owned by a lawyer named Vilhjalmur Jonsson. The woman was suspected of being a witch owing to the mysterious pot she had in her house, there was always something preparing in it.

Since she was on rent, unfortunately once she couldn’t pay it, and Jonsson took away her cooking pot. With this act, Gunna filled with rage and starved herself to death. Vilhjalmur Jonsson attended her funeral, but as she was taken to the cemetery, the men carrying her heard the threatening voice “No need deep dig, no plans long to lie”. And the very next day Vilhjalmur was found dead with a bruised body and broken bones. And it was believed that Gunna took her revenge. It didn’t end there, she used to intimidate the people living in the peninsula. The locals were frustrated and seek the help from a priest to set a trap for her that ultimately let her fell in the hot spring. Since that time, the hot spring is known as Gunnuhver or Gunn’s hot spring

So, if you are planning to visit Iceland, do visit Gunnuhver and experience this unbelievable yet surreal place! Be more cautious and follow the safety regulations as well. The boiling water and direct steam can be a bit dangerous if not paid attention. You can rent a car and drive on your own to reach Gunnuhver.  

Map of Gunnuhver

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