“And if you follow, there may be a tomorrow. But if the offer is shun, you might as well be walkin’ on the sun” Smashmouth
Iceland straddles two tectonic plates – the Eurasian plate and the North American plate. Lake Myvatn in Northern Iceland sits right on top of the rift between the plates. This means lots of volcanic activity and interesting geological formations created over centuries of eruptions found near to the lake.(Dimmuborgir)
Lake Myvatn means lake of the midges which are small flies (another creative Icelandic name). There are many flies around but the more mesmerizing the scenery became, the less I noticed the flies. (Skutustaoagigar)
One might find that this landscape is familiar if you have been to Rotorua, New Zealand (as I have) or watch Game Of Thrones (as I have not). As you drive through this area, the lush greens and clear blues of Lake Mývatn are replaced with burnt oranges, earthy browns, and ashy beige.
The wet, rich landscape of the lake is replaced with a dry cracked earth, uninhabitable to most plant species -except lichen which must be the hardiest plant in Iceland.
As soon as I stepped off the bus I could smell the sulfur from the steam vents. The strong smell seeped into my skin, hair, and clothing. It is caused by the steam and the fumarole gas.
This gas gave me a headache and nausea after a few days in this area. I definitely tasted sulfur in the water. They said that was normal.
With its intriguing and otherworldly landscape, a visit to Namafjall Hverir is something you must do in Myvatn. It looks similar to Mars.
Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice vents letting off steam and bubbling gray mudpots on a green, orange, and gray speckled ground.
The volcanic vents are called fumaroles; which belch sulphurous gases furiously into the air.
The sulphur deposits were mined in Iceland in previous centuries to produce gunpowder. The strange yellow, orange color of this geothermal area stems from the sulphur.
The ground is very hot and its important to always stick to the paths in all of Iceland’s geothermal areas. Icelanders are brought up to fear the dangers in nature, but some tourists have not. If you step on mud inside fenced off areas your foot might sink straight into a hidden boiling hot-spring and get severely burned. It has happened.
This warm ground is also used to bake bread.
The famous geysir bread from Lake Myvatn is a rye bread made by burying wooden casks near a hot spring. This bread can be purchased in several places in Myvatn.
The Mývatn Nature Baths are sometimes called the Blue Lagoon of the North. These facilities pump water warmed by the geothermal activity into beautiful pools. It is much more affordable than the Blue Lagoon, much less crowded and you don’t have to purchase tickets in advance. The geothermal water is rich in minerals, silicates and geothermal microorganisms, which are believed to be beneficial for the skin.
Soaking in the pools is an excellent way to wind down after a day of visiting all the interesting sights in the Mývatn area.
I wanted to thank Argunnar Yi from Smithsonian/Odyssey Travel. She is a warm, friendly, funny, intelligent , truly motivated guide.Touring Iceland with her was an amazing, artistic experience. She knows the best of everyone and everything in Iceland. She brings color everywhere she goes.