Taking it easier at Myvatn

After two long and very busy days, I resolved to take it easier today and left late to explore Myvatn,  a large, shallow lake formed by a volcanic eruption 2000 years ago. The lake is lush and green, with lots of small islands, bubbling rivers entering or leaving the lake, and lots of bird life. It is surrounding by many interesting volcanic structures.  My only plan for today was to drive around the lake clockwise and see what I would find.  

Myvatn lake

My first stop was to climb the small mountain called Vindbelgjarfall, on the western side of the lake.  It was a steep but short walk, and from the summit there were fantastic views across the lake.  I found a little hollow in the mountain to shelter from the strong wind and enjoyed my sandwich lunch whilst taking lots of pictures.  

Vindbelgjarfall
The view from the summit
Another view from the summit
Yet another view from the summit – this time with “pseudo-craters” (more about these later)

Next stop was Dimmuborgir, on the east side of the lake. Here the lava from the eruption had made many strange shapes. I stopped for a coffee in the café at the entrance to the site and noticed an interesting item on the menu – “lava bread”.  This is bread made by placing dough and yeast underground, where the cooking is done by geothermal heat. I resolved to set off on a short walk and to buy some bread when I returned. After wandering around a bit on the many marked paths, I spotted a path leading to the volcanic cone of Hverfjall, about 2km away.  The path up to the foot of the volcano was very pretty, with lots of flowers and strange lava forms.

An arch of lava at Dimmuborgir, with Hverfjall in the distance
On the way to Hverfjall….

In contrast, the climb up was extremely hard and monotonous – the soft grey ash that formed the cone gave way under foot, and for every two steps up, I slid one step back.  When I finally reached the top, the view was only average – the crater had no water, and resembled a giant grey ashtray. The view of the surrounding area was good, but not as good as I had experienced in my morning climb of Vindbelgjarfall.  

….and on its rather disappointing summit

Remembering that the café closed at 5pm – even in peak tourist season many things close really early in Iceland – I hurried back, only to find that they had sold out of “lava bread”.  I guess it probably tastes exactly like normally bread, but who knows…….

I regained my car and continued my drive, this time to the southern shore of the lake.  Here the main attraction are the many small “pseudo-craters” – structures that formed when lava flowed over an expanse of water.  The water boiled, and the steam created exploded through the solidifying lava to leave lots of small craters.  

Pseudo-craters at the southern end of the lake

It was time to go back to my rental cottage.  For some reason I feel sleepy here all the time – maybe it is the fresh air, maybe the big variations in temperature during the day, or maybe a subtle effect of volcanic gases. I had dinner and slept well.

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