After such a memorable day, with so many astounding scenarios and surprises, the benchmark was set pretty high. Unreachably high. We couldn’t match as many emotional moments for two days in a row so we deliberately adjusted to a more relaxed schedule around the lake Myvatn.
Lake, craters and midges
As for most Icelandic place names, Myvatn is made out of two words. Vatn is the common suffix for lake, while mý is for midge. In fact the area surrounding the lake is famous for being infested by clouds of midges which, although they generally don’t bite, can be quite annoying, to the point that the use of midge nets. Fortunately when we were there the weather was too windy and rainy so we didn’t have to worry about those pests.
Myvatn is one of the most geo-active areas in Iceland, and if the hot mud springs and fumaroles we’ve seen the day before weren’t enough, we were going to have more proves. Along the road that runs south of the lake we stopped at Skútustaðagígar, a collection of pseudocraters generated by gas explosions that happens when lava flows over wetlands, that must really be something to witness. We walked between them along the coast but they surely are best enjoyed from above (see the list at the bottom of the article)
Black metal church
Anyone who was even vaguely into metal in the 90s has an encyclopaedic knowledge of band names. Even if I never liked black metal I was shocked in surprise when I saw, somewhere along the road to the east of Myvatn, a place called Dimmuborgir. After the iconic picture next to the sign – for the benefit of my ageing metal-heads on facebook – we ventured into this park. Unusual lava formations, tall twice a person and more, populate a vast area that can be visited via several paths of different difficulty gradient. We suggest the “difficult” one, that reaches the most peculiar of this formations, called the Church.
The Church is a massive, hollow lava rock that can be entered by a natural arch, that looks all except natural. Inside it’s a vast, dark and echoing hall… with a little stretch of imagination you can see an altar at the end of it. No wonders that, according to the Icelandic folklore Dimmuborgir is the place connecting earth with hell, and dwelling of trolls and elves.
Alternative Blue Lagoon
However Myvatn offer the chance to dip in surreal waters without having to part with a huge amount of money. With less than the price of a Blue Lagoon ticket, we both got access to Jarðböðinm Myvatn nature baths. Designed by the same guy of the more famous counterpart, it’s unnaturally blue and unearthly smelly. It takes only a short while to get used to the smell and the slightly slimy algae, what follows is pure relax and wonder at the beauty of the surrounding landscape. If you stand near the edge of the larger pool you can see the lake Myvatn in the plains below. An unbeatable view.
We paid the equivalent of roughly £18 each (3500ISK) which is not cheap but still acceptable for a one off experience like this.
Visit their official website for updated info.
We haven’t tried any but we collected some information because next time we are in Iceland we want to take one of those little shaky planes. They’re less expensive than we thought, considering how much it is for a dinner in a restaurant those tours are pretty cheap. Here are some of the companies we found: