Arhver/Vellir in West-Iceland - Have you ever seen a Hot Spring in the Middle of a River?

Árhver/Vellir hot spring

In the middle of Reykjadalsá river in the beautiful Borgarfjörður in West-Iceland, you will see steam coming from a river.  It looks almost like a whale had found its way into the river and were blowing in the middle of the river.  This geological feature is a hot spring which goes by 4 names Árhver, Vellir, Vellindishver and Vellineshver hot spring. I am going to use the name Árhver in my travel-blog as I find it kind of cute - it literally means the hot spring in the river :)

Árhver, which has been called Iceland's most peculiar hot spring, consists of ca 6 vents on small sand flats which can clearly be seen when the water level in the river is low, but at high water levels, most of them are submerged. Árhver rock is made of concreta thermarum, i.e. hot spring clay, and is around 1 metre in diameter and the water coming from it is around 100°C!  The hot spring has got a flow of 10-15 litres per second and you can hear it boiling.

Arhver/Vellir in West-Iceland - Have you ever seen a Hot Spring in the Middle of a River?

Back in 1890 Árhver used to erupt, shooting hot water up to 1.5 metres into the air.  And as has been known to happen after earthquakes in geothermal areas then Árhver got even more powerful after the earthquakes in August and September in 1896 when it started erupting up to 10 metres into the air! That must have been an extraordinary sight!

Two years later Árhver's eruptions were down to 1.5 metres again and then it stopped erupting.  

One never knows though when and how the landscape is going to change, seeing that Iceland is a volcanic island situated on the tectonic plates.  The original Geysir in Haukadalur valley used to erupt frequently, but then it stopped. After a big earthquake on Iceland's national day in the year 2000, Geysir started erupting again from time to time - but very irregularly.  

I would love to see Árhver erupt again - but it is also ever so beautiful as it is and I love walking down to it and just sit quietly by it on bright summer nights - listening to the sounds of nature.

I took a video of Árhver hot spring during one of these summer nights, so you can see what it looks like.  Isn't it lovely? :)

Arhver/Vellir in West-Iceland - Have you ever seen a Hot Spring in the Middle of a River?

If you want to visit Árhver then it is located on the way to Reykholt in West-Iceland. Just before reaching the bridge to Borgarnes on ring-road 1 turn right on road 50. Then turn right onto road 518, heading towards Reykholt and Hraunfossar. After about 800 metres on road 518, you will see a dirt track on your right. You can drive down this dirt track and stop and leave your car when you reach this part of the dirt road of the farmer (see my photo) and walk from here to the hot spring. The steam coming from Árhver can be seen in my photo above.

Always show utter respect and only take photos and leave nothing but your footsteps. This way we Icelanders can tell our foreign visitors about our most favourite spots in Iceland. If these spots will be damaged in any way, then we must stop revealing them. So let's enjoy them together and keep them intact for others to be able to enjoy them as well.

Here you can see the location of Árhver on the map.  GPS: 64°39'35.0"N 21°22'33.1"W

Deildartunguhver hot spring

Arhver/Vellir in West-Iceland - Have you ever seen a Hot Spring in the Middle of a River?

Now I want to tell you about another hot spring not far from Árhver, Deildartunguhver, which is the largest geothermal spring in Europe. It provides 180 l/sec of 97° hot water. 

Deildartunguhver geothermal spring is a series of hot springs covering an area of 50 meters and only 40% of the geothermal spring water can be seen on the surface.  The main area is by a clay hill, which goes by 2 names, Laugarhóll and Hverahóll hill. Deildartunguhver is harnessed and used for heating up the houses in the nearby towns Akranes (64 km away) and Borgarnes (34 km away).

Arhver/Vellir in West-Iceland - Have you ever seen a Hot Spring in the Middle of a River?

There is so much steam emission from the geothermal water that it is difficult to get a good photo as the camera gets wet from the steam. I usually stand there for a long time, drenched from the steam, trying to get a relatively good photo of the colourful rocks in Deildartunguhver.  

Due to the red colour, one of the vents in Deildartunguhver got the name Sláturhver or Slaughter hot spring!

A special type of hard fern (blechum spicant) grows by Deildartunguhver, which can not be found elsewhere in Iceland. It adds beautiful green colour to the redness of the lava in Deildartunguhver.  

Arhver/Vellir in West-Iceland - Have you ever seen a Hot Spring in the Middle of a River?

Be very careful while visiting Deildartunguhver, as it is boiling hot and it bubbles and boils and spurts a whole lot. You can walk right up to it, but there is a small fence right in front of it for our safety. 

I got very startled during one of my visits to Deildartunguhver - I saw foot-prints inside the fence and all the way up the hill! Stepping inside the fences is strictly forbidden and life-threatening! The geothermal water is at a boiling point and no Icelander would ever think of doing this as the danger is so evident.  We first and foremost want our foreign guests to stay safe in our country, so please head my advice and don't go too close to the hot springs.  

Arhver/Vellir in West-Iceland - Have you ever seen a Hot Spring in the Middle of a River?

The hot spring gets its name from a farm, Deildartunga, which is up on a hill close by.

There are a lot of greenhouses in this area and in summer time you can buy brand-new tomatoes which are grown on the spot. They are for sale by Deildartunguhver in a small carriage and you leave your money in a box. The farmers trust us with leaving the money in the box and I find it really cosy finding the tomatoes waiting for us there.

Now the farmers in this area have opened up a new natural geothermal Spa Resort next to Deildartunguhver, called Krauma Spa, which is open all year round. Here you will find 6 baths, 5 with hot water from Deildartunguhver and 1 with cold water coming from the former glacier Ok :)

Arhver/Vellir in West-Iceland - Have you ever seen a Hot Spring in the Middle of a River?

You can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive to the west. From ring-road 1 turn right on road 50 just before you reach the bridge by Borgarnes town. Pass road 518 leading to Reykholt and on your left-hand side, you will see Deildartunguhver. Just follow the steam :)  I found a guided tour which will take you to Deildartunguhver, Kraumaand Hraunfossar amongst other interesting sights.

If you want to stay close to Deildartunguhver then Hverinn-Sælureitur í sveitinni offers accommodation. The name means - the hot spring - an oasis in the countryside :) And if you want to stay in a cosy cottage in Borgarnes, then there are 2 cottages to choose from.

Have a lovely time visiting the hot springs of West-Iceland :)

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