#myvatn

If you read information about Iceland and places to visit around the countryside, you will soon learn about and discover many places where you can take a bath in a geothermal pool. There are dozens of delightful small pools as well as a few larger ones in the south region, in the Highland and in the Westfjords.  All of them are very popular and most available free of charge since the hot water comes from the ground and flows like a creek, often mixed with cold water to give the right temperature.

Myvatn Nature Baths

Traveling in Iceland in autumn, in the months from October to the beginning of November, is such a joy for two reasons.  On the one hand, you have all the colors of autumn as the leaves on the trees change colors.  This is so magical because all the green trees and the green leaves take on many different colors, mostly yellow, orange and red. For this reason, a large area can change the character for a few weeks and seem quite different to the bright green and light yellow that dominates the summer.

​Lake Myvatn in Autumn

If there is a place with apparent "wow" factor in Iceland, it has got to be Námaskarð. Located a short distance from the spectacular volcanic mountain, Krafla, Námaskarð, Hverarönd, is an expanse of hot springs, fumaroles, mud pools and mud pots. Everything is at a boiling point in the stunning arctic desert. No vegetation in sight. The constant emission of fumes has made the ground completely sterile and acidic, thus unfit to sustain flora and fauna. But, the colorful minerals defy imagination.

Námaskarð is a short distance from Lake Mývatn where you can enjoy rich vegetation and refreshing spring water. At Námaskarð, you will be hard to find pure spring water. Everything is imbued with sulfur, even the air, making the smell from the area quite distinct. Those who dislike the smell will tell you the area smells like rotten eggs. Those who do like it will maintain it has the fragrance of living, breathing earth constantly on the move.

This barren beauty is definitely a place to visit. You can spend hours gazing in amazement at the ever-changing patterns and hues. But, be mindful of the sulfur. Too much of it is not only harmful to vegetation, but also to humans.

Below is the location of Námaskarð / Hverarönd on the map of Iceland

boiling mud at Námaskarð Hverarönd

 

Mývatn is a lake in the northeast part of Iceland and one of the largest lakes in the country approximately 36 square kilometers. The lake is not deep, and the deepest part is only four and a half meter.  It is and has been for a long time, one of the main tourist attractions in the country renowned for its beautiful small islands, exceptional shore, exceptional flora, and abundant birdlife. The area has a dreamlike and mysterious quality and was created by a large basaltic lava eruption 2300 years ago. Dominating the surrounding landscape are volcanic landforms, like lava pillars and pseudo-craters, Dimmuborgir lava being the best known.

Like many places in Iceland an active volcano is a neighbor

The area surrounding the lake lies on the western border of the volcanic zone cutting across Northeast Iceland and is an extension of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It is still active; indeed the Krafla volcano is located in the neighborhood.  A volcano that was very active only a few decades ago when series of eruptions created some serious concerns in a nine-year period between 1975 to 1984.  Many of the islands on the lake have one or more craters.  And most of the mountains in the lake's vicinity were formed by eruptions under ice during the Ice Age glacial period.  Like many similar places in Iceland, it is a geological wonderland with fascinating stories to those who can read the landscape.

Birdwatchers paradise

Lake Mývatn and its surrounding wetlands have an exceptionally rich fauna of waterbirds. Indeed, it is a birdwatcher's paradise. Apart from thirteen types of ducks, you will find the Slavonian grebe, red-necked phalarope, great northern diver, red-throated diver and the whooper swan.  Occasionally it is possible to see the gyrfalcon, the Icelandic Falcon.  The locals around Lake Mývatn have a long tradition of harvesting duck eggs for domestic use. To ensure sustainability, the collection follows strict age-old rules of leaving at least four eggs in each nest for the duck to incubate.

Residents very protective of nature

Maybe one of the most amazing aspects of the Lake Mývatn area is how mindful the locals have always been of its delicate beauty.  It is not the easiest places to cultivate and live on as the altitude is almost 300 meters. Their respect is apparent everywhere you go and inhabitants have fought serious battles to protect their nature, even blowing up dams with dynamite, which is almost unheard of in peaceful little Iceland.

A wonderful place to have as a center for activities in the north east

Myvatn is one of the fascinating places to stay if you want to explore the north east and all its magnificent natural wonders.  You can visit waterfalls like Dettifoss, Goðafoss, and Aldeyjarfoss or the hot spring area at Námaskarð or go whale watching in Húsavík  It is also a good choice if you want to take day tours into the mysterious highland and visit Askja and Herðubreið.  The area offers good campgrounds and good accommodation with fine restaurants and many exciting activities.  It is a good place to stop when on a family vacation and explore the nearby natural wonders and take some excellent hiking tours. 

Below is the location of Mývatn lake on the map of Iceland

Falcons at Lake Mývatn

Dimmuborgir (The Dark Castles) is considered by most natives to be the single most impressive place in Iceland. Located by Lake Mývatn in North Iceland, it is a lava field displaying the most unusual rock formations and caves. It is dramatic, to say the least. Icelandic folklore maintains Dimmuborgir is where earth connects with Hell. In Nordic Christian lore, it is also said to be the place where Satan plummeted when he was cast from Heaven, and later created the Catacombs of Hell.

The lava and the lake

In reality, Dimmuborgir was formed by a lava-lake, flowing from a large eruption about 2300 years ago. On the site of Dimmuborgir, the lava pooled over a small lake. As the lava flowed across the wet sod, the marsh water boiled with vapor rising through the lava, forming lava pillars. Some of the pillars were several meters in diameter. As the lava continued flowing towards the lower ground, the crust collapsed, leaving the hollow pillars of solidified lava standing.

Dimmuborgir is characterized by large hollow chamber-like structures formed around bubbles of vapor; some of them large enough to serve as "housing." The area is a maze, and you have to take care not to get lost there, as there are no prominent landmarks in the vicinity.

Dimmuborgir is home to the Icelandic Jólasveinar (Christmas Lads) and their parents, Grýla, and Leppalúði.

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Below is the location of Dimmuborgir by Mývatn lake on the map of Iceland

Dimmuborgir is a magical place to visit and walk the tracks

Bird watchers are a growing group of tourists that visit Iceland each year. Apparently there are many interesting birds in the country to find, spot, watch and photograph. In June and July, there are excellent opportunities during the quiet time of night to view the night time behavior of birds as there is almost daylight around the clock. Puffins are probably among the most popular, but eagles and falcons are probably among the more difficult ones to find. This photo was shot at Lake Mývatn seven years ago when a pair of Falcons built a nest in Dimmuborgir.

Bird watchers are a growing group of tourists