Iceland

Roadtrip in Iceland – #6: around Lake Myvatn

After a lovely day exploring the fjords of Eastern Iceland, we continued our way towards the beautiful Myvatn lake where we spent two sunny days discovering the region.

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DAYS #7 AND 8: LAKE MYVATN

We are now in the North of Iceland, and – surprizingly – it is hot! Very hot actually! During the two days that we spent in the region, we exhanged our coats, gloves and umbrellas for t-shirs, sunscreen and hats! We enjoyed a beautiful blue sky, there were no big clouds to be seen: we were not expecting this from Iceland and it felt good!

What’s more, the region is full of curiosities of all kinds to discover: a geothermic zone with fumes and bubbling pools, lagoons with crazy colors, strange rocky formations, and – of course – more spectacular waterfalls. We had a lot to see in the region and we were glad that we would stay two days there. In the end, this is where we saw the most surprizing sites and where we felt we had landed on another planet! Here we go for the tale of these two sunny days, full of beautiful discoveries!

DAY #7 – OUR PROGRAM:

 Being fascinated by Dettifoss, the most powerfull waterfall in Europe

 Believing we reached another planet at Hverir geothermic site

 Feeling bewitched by the beautiful crystal-clear water of Godafoss waterfall

ON OUR WAY TO MYVATN

We left the beautiful fjord of Seydisfjordur that we loved so much and continued our way north. Once again, the landscapes had radically changed compared to the previous day. The fjords, snowy peaks and greenery had disappeared… The closer we were to Lake Myvatn region, the more arid and dry the landscape would become, with ochre and red shades. As usual, we made several “photo stops” on the way to try and capture the beauty of the sites we were passing by.

Right after leaving the fjord region, we went past this amazing canyon, located right by Route 1. It was hard not to stop…

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And then the landscape became more and more arid: there was nothing around us!

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As we were reaching the lake region, the mountains were pitch red. We felt in the middle of nowhere.

ADMIRING DETTIFOSS, THE MOST POWERFUL WATERFALL IN EUROPE

Shortly before reaching the lake, we made a “small” detour, to see the amazing Dettifoss waterfall.

We left route 1 and followed route 864. It was the beginning of a 26-km ride on a gravel road! The waterfall had seemed quite close to where we were on the map, but we had not expected the road to be that bad. We were shaked a lot and the car would disappear in a thick cloud of dust each time a car was coming from the other direction… We were trying not to go too fast to avoid feeling like we were in a shaker…

After a while, we started thinking that this ride was quite long and we were wondering if the waterfall was really worth it (after all we had already seen quite a lot of waterfalls…).

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But as soon as we arrived, we forgot about the unpleasant 26-km ride! It became clear that the gravels and the dust were worth it! This waterfall was amazing! The surrounding area in itself left us speechless! We were in the middle of a dry desert, standing by a canyon! We had not expected this kind of site in Iceland! And then we saw the waterfall, the most powerfull in Europe! The waters of this river fall some 44 meters down, along basaltic columns. A rainbow had formed at the basis of the waterfall. The natural show was gorgeous.

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After being blown away by this amazing waterfall, we drove the 26-km gravel road again in the other direction… And we quickly reached Lake Myvatn.

EXPLORING HVERIR GEOTHERMIC SITE AND FEELING ON ANOTHER PLANET

This site is the first natural curiosity that we explored as we reached the lake region. It was impossible to miss it: it was right by Route 1 and we could see the fumes from far away.

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We parked and decided to explore the site – it was accessible for free and we could walk around the site on our own. All around us it was nothing but boiling mud pools and fumes: we were feeling on another planet! However, as we reached the site, the sulfur smell became unbearable. We hurried around and left as soon as we could.

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We continued towards Lake Myvatn and when we finally reached it, it started raining! We decided to continue towards the little “town” of Storutjarnir where our hotel was located. As we would spend two days there, we would have the chance to come back to the lake, no worries.

ON OUR WAY TOWARDS STORUTJARNIR

We left Lake Myvatn and as soon as it disappeared behind us, the sun was back, almost magically! And the landscape was quite different as well! It no longer seemed as dry and hostile as the area around the lake. We were driving past bucolic lands, and the lovely greenery and snowy peaks were back. We loved it.

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At one point, we started taking pictures directly from the car because we were making so many photo stops that were not moving forward…

BEING AMAZED BY THE COLOR OF GODAFOSS WATERFALL

Just before reaching our hotel, we stopped at the Godafoss waterfall, shaped as a horseshoe. It was right by Route 1. We loved the color of the water. Maybe it was because the sun was shinning but it looked turquoise to us.

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Godafoss means “waterfall of the gods” and the story goes that when the Icelandic parliament decided to convert to Christianity in year 1000, the statuettes of their Nordic Gods were thrown into this waterfall, thus its name…

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And this is how this first day by lake Myvatn ended. We quickly reached our hotel from the waterfall. I will tell you more about it at the end of this article.

DAY #8 – PROGRAM:

Going around Lake Myvatn

 Admiring Viti’s lake

 Leirhnjukur volcano

 Visiting Grjotagja cave

 Dimmuborgir formations

 Strolling by Hofdi park

DISCOVERING LAKE MYVATN IN THE SUN

After a good night of sleep, we went back to lake Myvatn and that day we had the chance to see it under a bright sun! And it looked quite different in the sun! It looked gorgeous with its clear waters! As soon as we saw it, we felt like doing a photo stop of course. But as we parked, we realized that we were surrounded by flies! There were dozens of them (hundreds?). They were all around us. We learnt that Lake Myvatn is known as “the flies lake” and we definitely understood why. It was really unfortunate. So we were not so sure that we wanted to get out of the car anymore… “Let’s go quickly”… “you can go but I’m staying in the car”… Anyway. The beautiful setting was a bit ruined by all the flies! And they would stay on my camera objective as I was trying to take pictures… It was aweful!

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We continued our way and reached the lake of a geothermic plant. The color of this lake was so surprizing! We had never seen such a thing! Even if it could be tempting to jump in, it is strictly forbidden as the water is highly toxic!


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We continued towards the two volcanos that are located close to the lake: Viti and Leirhnjukur. We never got tired of the beautiful landscapes we could see from the road…

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ADMIRING THE LAKE OF THE VITI CRATER

We quickly reached the Viti volcano. It was impossible to miss it. It was located where route 863 ends. As soon as we arrived, we were amazed by the color of the lake inside the crater!

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We decided to walk up to enjoy a panoramic view. It was breathtaking!

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EXPLORING THE LEIRHNJUKUR VOLCANO OR FEELING – AGAIN – THAT WE HAVE REACHED ANOTHER PLANET

We hiked towards the volcano and were quite surprised by what we were seeing. At the beginning of the hike, there was snow on the ground! As well as this strange moss…

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And then suddenly, this ochre color was all around us.

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We continued and we were surrounded by fumes and boiling mud pools.

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And then suddently, everything around us was just black, the consequence of previous volcanic eruptions… We thought we had left planet Earth…

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We hiked for about two hours in total. It was extremely hot. Everything was dry around around us. We were wondering where we had landed…

ON THE FOOTSTEPS OF JOHN SNOW AT GRJOTAGJA CAVE

The big Game of Thrones fans that we are had to go and visit the Grjotagja cave that served as a setting in the series. It was much smaller than I could remember from the series but it definitely was worth exploring! The ground looked “cracked”, it was the strangest thing! We entered the cave by a “hole” and we discovered a hot spring inside the cave! Swimming used to be possible but recently the temperature rose and now some dangerous bacteries live there.

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We got in. The cave was really small and we could not stand up. We discovered this amazing spring. The water was so transparent that we could perfectly see the rocks at the bottom.

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On top of the cave, the setting was all the more fascinating. It looked as if the gound was breaking appart. It was very impressive.

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SWIMMING IN THE HOT POOL?

A nice thing to do in Iceland is to swim in a hot pool or a hot spring. There are many of them all around the country and the most famous of them is the Blue Lagoon which is close to the Reykjavik ariport.

But I read many comments saying that it was very crowded and that there were so many people that it sort of broke the charm of the place. And if I was still hesitating, I no longer was after seeing the price of the entry ticket: 50€! So we had decided that we could go to the ones at Myvatn lake that are less touristy and also less expensive (but still some 30€).

But the day we were there, it was so hot that we really did not feel like jumping into a 40°C hot water pool. It’s too bad because it would have been a nice thing to do. Maybe next time…

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DISCOVERING DIMMUBORGIR STRANGE VOLCANIC FORMATIONS

We continued exploring and reached Dimmuborgir where we strolled around these strange volcanic formations. The story goes that this is where trolls live. They only go out in winter time and spend their summer sleeping in one of these caves…

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HOTEL EDDA STORUTJARNIR

During our stay in the lake Myvatn region we stay at the Edda hotel in Storutjarnir. As usual in Iceland, it was very expensive, the room was quite small and we had no private bathroom.

I would however recommend this place for the amazing view that we had from our room. This hotel is located right by a little lake, not far from the amazing Godafoss waterfall. There is nothing around but this hotel (fortunately there is a restaurant in the hotel).

I’m leaving you with the perfect symmetry of the reflection of the mountains in the lake…

INFO

 The hotel is in Storutjarnir, by route 1 (look for the Edda flags after Godafoss waterfall).

 We paid 118€/night.

 More info here.

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A FEW TIPS IF YOU GO TO LAKE MYVATN

 You can easily spend two days there as there is so much to do. You can also take a one-day excursion to go and explore other volcanos in the center of Iceland.

 I recommend visiting the Reykjahlid tourist center upon arriving (the only “city” by the lake) to have more information about possible activities and excursions. They will also give you a very useful map. It is impossible to miss the tourist center: it is next to the only gaz station in Reykjahlid.

 All the sites we have explored were free. You only have to pay to enter the hot bath but we didn’t go. Find more info about the hot bath here.

 More than ever, it is important to book a hotel in advance because the region is quite isolated and we didn’t see many hotels. The hotel we chose was a bit far from the lake (we couldn’t find any hotel closer) but in the end it was perfect as we managed to see many sites in two days.

 

NEXT…

The next day we continued our way and because the main road was closed we changed our plans and discovered the beautiful fjords in the North that we loved…

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#1 Reykjavik

#6 Lake Myvatn

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