Friday, December 16, 2016

Iceland Part III: The Myvatn area: Dettifoss Waterfall, Viti Crater, Namafjall Geothermal Area, Myvatn Hot Baths, Grjotagja Cave, & Godafoss

After leaving Seyðisfjörður and stopping in Egilsstaðir for some quick breakfast, we drove towards Myvatn. Myvatn has a completely different landscape than the East Fjords, or anywhere else in Iceland for that matter. The area is filled with volcanic craters, mudpots, lava formations, and geothermal zones all set around a large lake. It was amazing to see the difference in just a couple hours drive.

A lookout point on the way 

We first stopped at Dettifoss waterfall. This waterfall is HUGE and is said to be the most powerful in all of Europe! It was quite impressive and in my opinion it was one of the most majestic sights I've seen.

There are apparently two different roads to get to the waterfall, one on each side of the river, depending on which direction you come from. We took the long and unpaved path since we were coming from the east, which is only a couple of kilometers long, but took about 30 minutes. Driving up the other side would have been easier, but we really enjoyed the views from the side we came in on and were able to get a full view of the waterfall.

After getting up close with Dettifoss, we followed a 1km path up the ridge to look more closely into the gorge. There are no guardrails so it was up to our discretion to get as close as we wanted. I definitely made Jon back up a few times while he was taking pictures! Further up along the path, which was easy to lose given the terrain (though you really just have to follow the river back), another waterfall Selfoss, can be seen.

We walked back and then up back up to the car park. From Dettifoss we then drove to Viti Crater. We climbed the short, but steep walk to the top of the crater and were rewarded with a bright green/blue pool of water at the bottom!

It was windy and COLD!

A five minutes drive to us to nearby Namafjall Geothermal Area also known as Hverir. This area was very reminiscent of the geysir geothermal area we saw last year. The area has numerous natural steam vents, boiling mud, hot springs, and solfataras. The weather changed pretty suddenly in the five minutes from Viti Crater and we found ourselves in some steady cold rain. We walked around for a little bit, but didn't stay too long because we were getting soaked. We were eager to go to the Myvatn Nature Baths just down the road and warm up!

The Myvatn Nature Baths are known as the Blue Lagoon of the north. It's not as touristy, not as flashy, and not as crowded. Though the baths aren't as "pretty" as the Blue Lagoon, it was definitely a less chaotic process getting into the locker rooms, showering, and entering the baths. It was still crowded and there seemed to be a ton of Americans and Brits around, but we made ourselves comfortable in our own little area. Unfortunately our camera with the waterproof case ran out of batteries as soon as we got into the baths so we have no pictures of our own.

There was still so much to see in the Myvatn area and we tried to hit a few things on the way out. We stopped at Grjotagja Cave, which is a small lava cave with a natural thermal spring inside. The temperature of the spring is around 109 degrees so some people do get in, but most find that it is too hot to sit comfortably. Jon went in to take some pictures of the blue water, while I stayed back. The rocks were wet going down, there was a family of ten pouring in behind us, and being 18 weeks pregnant I just didn't want to take the chance of slipping or losing my balance. I'll post more of the pictures from the inside when I get to Jon's camera.

We drove around the beautiful lake and started to head towards Akureyri, Iceland's second largest city (17,000 people) behind Reykjavik, and our home for the night. On the way we stopped at Goðafoss waterfall, which is a large horseshoe shaped waterfall. It was a pretty impressive sight! And since we arrived there around 7:30 at night there weren't many people around at all and we were able to enjoy the crushing sound of the falls.

Akureyri was about an hour away and we were getting hungry for some dinner. Akureyri is known for its nightlife, cool cafes, hip restaurants, and chic art galleries. We wish we could have stayed here more than one night, especially since our accommodations were the most comfortable of the whole trip! We had a delicious dinner in the center of town and stopped for some Icelandic ice cream on a walk.
View from our room, just outside of Akureyri

Today was such a long and busy day, but we had such a good time in the Myvatn area. Next up a beautiful drive in the far north, the fishing town of Siglufjordur, and Hvitserkur (aka Dinosaur Rock).


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