On our third day on the Iceland’s Ring Road, we explored the beautiful Lake Mývatn area in the north of Iceland. Fortunately, this day was more about walking and less about driving. There are many sights close by since this is an area of volcanic activity.
Whale watching cruise in Húsavík
In the morning, at Húsavík port, a boat was waiting to take us on a 3-hour whale watching cruise. I confess I was really anxious about this cruise. We had to be extra lucky to have a good weather and to see the whales. The weather in Iceland is very changeable. Even if you check the weather the day before, you can only be 100% sure the ship will sail on the day of the cruise.
To my delight, we were blessed with a good weather and the appearance of a mother minke whale and her baby. Besides the minke whale, there are other species of whales that visit the coasts of Iceland: The giant blue whale (the largest animal on Earth), the fin whale (the second largest), the sperm whale, the killer whale and the Humpback whales. If you’re lucky you can also see dolphins, puffins and other seabirds.
Dimmuborgir lava field
We left Húsavík and drove to the Lake Mývatn area. The first stop was the Dimmuborgir lava field. The name Dimmuborgir means “Dark Castles”. They say this lava field is unique because of its strange rock formations, caves, pillars and arches. There are several walking routes through the lava field. The trails are marked and easy to follow. After a little stroll, we had lunch at the Cafe Borgir.
|Small Circle||570 m||10-15 min||Easy|
|Big Circle||840 m||20 min||Easy|
|Church Circle||2,250 m||60 min||Easy|
|Mellönd Circle||1,200 m||30 min||Easy|
|Switchback Trail||800 m||40 min||Moderate/Difficult|
Close by there’s the Hverfjall volcano. The path to the rim is a nearly vertical hike through loose rocky terrain. I was lucky I was wearing good hiking shoes. For the first time in this trip, I noticed that I was surprisingly out of shape! From the top the view is breathtaking. You can see the steam plumes from the Namafjall geothermal area in the distance. The volcano crater is approximately 1 km in diameter and 140 m deep.
The fault of Stóragjá
Near the Hverfjall volcano, we visited the fault of Stóragjá. There is a small lava cave with a thermal spring inside. Some people might risk swimming there, but it’s not advised because the water is not so clean.
Mývatn Nature Baths
After hiking all day through the lava fields I was looking forward for a warm relaxing bath at Mývatn Nature Baths. This man-made lagoon has 3.5 million liters of hot water. The water temperature varies from 36 to 40°C. The temperature is not the same in every place in the lagoon. Once I entered the lagoon, I circled around until I found the perfect spot where the temperatures were higher. Nothing like a pool of scalding water to relax!
The surrounding landscape sets the mood. There’s a peaceful silence that is broke only by the sound of the wind. It felt so good to soothing in hot water that the time flew by. I didn’t want to leave but the tour had a fixed scheduled. When I reluctantly left, the cold winds made me want to get back in the water again. I was sad to go. I could have stayed there forever!
At night we returned to the same hotel we had stayed the night before in Húsavík, the Fosshotel Húsavík.
For more information about the tour go to http://www.tour.is/longer-tours/country_life_-_7_days