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Geothermal wonder of the icy world !
Blue Lagoon (Iceland)
Member Name: alimacb
Blue Lagoon (Iceland)
Date: 01/04/09, updated on 15/04/09 (470 review reads)
Advantages: Amazing scenery, superb clean facilities, trip of a lifetime
Disadvantages: It's not available on my doorstep
So where is it?
It is in an area of Iceland called the Svartsengi geothermal area in the South West of the island. This is well known as the area in which the geothermal power plant that is attached to the lagoon was built in 1976 (more on that later).
It is accessible by bus and is very near to the main airport of Keflavik and only a 35 minute bus ride from the city centre, (as there are no trains in Iceland you can only access this by road).
Many people take in this attraction on arrival or departure from the airport as there are facilities to store luggage. Most of the major hotels can arrange day trips and busses to pick you up and take you there direct for a few krona.
What is it?
The lagoon was created as a by-product from the geothermal power plant that is located next to the lagoon (although you'd never know it). Iceland is known for its volcanic activity and geysers. The power plant was built in an active area around one of the larger hot springs to provide steam generated electricity for Reykjavik and is renewable and green energy.
It was originally used as a naturally heated bathing pool (a traditional Icelandic pastime) which became a mecca for people with skin conditions when it was noticed that the naturally occurring algae and minerals in the water helped relieve conditions like psoriasis.
A clinic for Psoriasis patients opened on the complex in 1994 and its treatments have been recognised by the Icelandic Ministry of Health.
The complex in its current form opened in 2003 to introduce all the modern spa facilities, in water treatments and massages as well as opening a restaurant, bar and shop in the grounds.
It has become one of the most visited tourist attractions in Iceland and has recently won the 2009 Readers Spa Award as well as wining many other awards such as Blue Flag for Medical and Thermal Spa Facilities in the World and Environmental Awards.
The tech bit
The origins of the water in the lagoon are from approx 2000 meters below the earths surface between the American and European tectonic plates that meet underneath Iceland. As they are pulled apart, seawater is sucked in to the gaps it is superheated by the volcanic magma and pushed towards the surface.
The temperature of the water is around 243°C on entrance to the power plant but has been significantly cooled to a balmy 38°C before it is pumped in to the lagoon.
The lagoon holds a staggering six million litres of water and it is refreshed every 40 hours to keep a balance of fresh water and active ingredients. Amazingly as there is such a unique balance of minerals and algae, the most common bacteria cannot live in the water meaning no chemicals or chlorine are needed to keep it clean.
The water contains some of the following elements which are beneficial to the skin (mg/kg of fluid) Silica (SiO2) 251, Sodium (Na) 7.643, Potassium (K) 1.177, Calcium (Ca) 1.274, Magnesium (Mg) 0,60, Carbon dioxide (CO2) 11,4, Sulphate (SO4) 31,8, Chlorine (Cl) 15.740, Fluorine (F) 0,18.
The complex was constructed to be in complete harmony with its surroundings and as such incorporates a lot of glass and sustainable wood. This makes the facilities light, unimposing and clean which is a very enjoyable experience.
The reception is directly inside the entrance and the staff were very friendly and helpful. There was a price list displayed which gives you all the different options available from access to the lagoon to spa treatments (which are pre-bookable).
As this was one of the last trips we did on our tour, and with the low exchange rate, we opted to use the executive facilities on offer which were very expensive at 21,600kr for 3 hours (£72.00) for the pair of us, but in my estimation, totally worth every penny.
One of the smartly dresses ladies showed us upstairs to our private changing room, of which there are six, and gave us our hi-tec wristbands which give you access in and out of the changing rooms and lagoon through a 'swipe' system.
The changing rooms were immaculately clean and heated. Towels, bathrobes and complementary shower gels and moisturisers were provided as well as private bathroom and shower facilities. There was no need for a locker as the 'swipe system' to your changing room meant that our possessions were safe.
The executive lounge was beautifully arranged with 'pod' like rubber seats to sit on, wood covered walls and a roaring open fire. Magazines were provided as well as a complimentary fruit bowl, bottles of water, chocolates and a help yourself coffee tassimo system. I made the most of the chocolates and the bottles of Icelandic mineral water before even venturing into the lagoon and much to my delight they were all re-stocked about an hour later.
The lounge also has the luxury of an indoor lagoon area that was connected to the outside facilities by means of the same wristband swipe system......believe me when I tell you that in January it gets bloody cold in Iceland and after taking a dip outside it's nice to have the option of retreating inside to the warmth without having to get out of the water!!
It's a man made lagoon with little bridges and areas coves to explore. The water is a beautiful milky blue colour, which is due to the high concentrate of minerals, and is slightly salty.
It's not very deep, about 5 foot at the most but in some areas there is a concentrated build up of the silica 'mud' which is a slightly disturbing yet fun experience if you stick your feet in it.
The thick white silica mud is very beneficial to the skin and can be found in wooden containers dotted around the lagoon, you just help yourself to it and slather it onto your face, neck or back and let it set. This helps draw out impurities from the skin and has healing properties.
With the temperature difference between the lagoon and the air, you do get a lot of steam around the lagoon which just adds to its mystery and beauty. The sand and rock around the lagoon is black lava and the contrast between the black rock and milky light blue of the water contrasting against the backdrop of the Icelandic mountains makes for a completely breathtaking experience.
There are 'in-water' treatments available to buy which are done on a sort of lilo in a little cove area of the lagoon. We didn't get time to do one of these and we didn't really feel the need to be honest, we spent most of the time enjoying the warmth of the lagoon and the scenery.
Like I say, we did go overboard and book the executive lounge which cost us 21,600kr (£72.00) for the three hours but the standard entrance fee is around 3,200kr (£10.00) and is free for children under 13 when accompanied by a paying adult. There are also concessions available for over 60's and under 16's.
Towels and bathing suits are available to hire at the cost of 640kr (£2.10) each and bathrobe hire is also available for 1,120kr (£3.75).
Coaches are available from the city centre at a cost of around 2,500kr (£8.35) bearing in mind the high import taxes on fuel, which does not include admission. This is about the same price as you'd pay from the hotels but there is also the option of a package deal with the bus company or hotel which includes the admission price as well which will save you a little.
They do have a little shop available in the reception area as well as one in Keflavik airport and Reykjavik city centre. They sell all the Blue Lagoon shampoos, mineral moisturisers and treatment muds that are made with the same active ingredients. They too are quite pricey but from using the little complimentary bottles, if you have skin conditions they are definitely worth a try.
(The exchange rate at the time of writing this is approx £1.00 to 300kr. 1st April 2009)
This is a once in a lifetime experience, the amazing scenery, the unique waters, the clean environment and the experience of bathing in geothermal water in an ice cold landscape is breathtaking. I would totally recommend this place to everyone who visits Iceland and even those who've never thought of going.
I would definitely think of stopping off here on a trans-Atlantic flight just to get to experience this again, even going all the way there just to spend the day there. It was totally amazing and something I'll remember forever!!!
Summary: Muddy wonderful !!!!!