Sulfur’s Up! Riding the Lava Wave in Iceland

You can smell it the moment you happen across the volcanic fields. It hits your nose like a punch in the face.

Sulfur.

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Somehow I thought I would have already been used to it seeing as all the hot water in the country is heated volcanically. Sure, we may smell like it a bit but this was sulfur at a whole new level.

With my nose scrunched up, I pushed onwards towards the Krafla Lava Fields and the Hverir mud pots – funny face in tow. If there is anything I can say about volcanic Iceland is that I have not ceased to be amazed at what diversity can be found on this island.

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The Krafla Lava Fields were named after the Krafla power station that you pass on your way in. Much of this part of the island is still volcanic in nature and you can find steaming vents everywhere. Don’t let the snow on the ground fool you, there are some very hot spots. It was even to the point where the created a wooden boardwalk to keep you from scalding yourself on the sand.

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And it was about this time that (after seeing more snow on the ground) that I started joking about my wishes of Iceland. #1 being “Seeing the Northern Lights”: CHECK and #2 Snowing.

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Flurries magically appeared and swirled around the steam vents and pumice formations. It was so magical, so unbelievable and so amazing… until you realize that the snowflakes are really freaking huge and the wind picked up and it started pelting your eyeballs with hard snow. We ran as quickly and clumsily across the lava formations to the heat and safety of our rental car.

…and the snow stopped just as quickly as it began. Little did we know it would be an omen for a few days later…

We raced down the road towards the Hverir mud pots as we were starting to play “beat the sunset”. It was cold up here in the north, and no sun means no heat. I’m not sure I could deal with it. My layers could only do so much.

But that didn’t stop us from slamming on our brakes as we curiously looked at what could be a dramatic avant garde piece or an old outhouse without walls. There was a toilet with a shower permanently running over the top on the side of the road. “I’m going to pee in it!” Our stowaway M jumped out of the car and quickly started doing his thing (OH to be a boy!)… and that is how I got this amazingly wonderful incriminating photo. I thought I was going to pee myself laughing. So if you fancy yourself a curiosity, it is hard to miss and is on the road to Krafla.

We moved on to Hverir. When I thought the lava formations were smelly, OH LORD you don’t know anything until you go to the mud pots. It is like being hit with a wall of rotten eggs. I normally don’t have a sensitive nose but I think this was even pushing me a bit far.

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It feels and looks like you are on another planet. Formations like these only exist in storybooks and pictures of planets so far we can only dream of being there. Steam was coming up from the ground in massive plumes from rock piles, the plop plop plop of the boiling, hot mud could be heard – the rumble of the ground underneath you – Hverir was very much alive and I felt a little awkward being on it’s back. Little do you know that with one earthquake, this “docile” environment can quickly go awry.

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Mother Earth is in charge here!

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“Let’s run through the steam!” Shaun exclaimed. I sat there and looked at him like he was crazy. I didn’t want to be a lobster.

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He took off.

“WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. AHHHHHHHHHHH. WOOOOOOOOOOO!” running back and forth between the steam spouts.

Yup. That is my husband.

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These were probably some of my favorite locations (nature-wise) in Iceland and both of them are FREE. Make sure to set a few hours aside so you can take your time and take everything in. The Lake Myvatn area can be done in a day – mind you a day where you will be hiking every moment and you may want to kill yourself or lop off your feet at the end unless you are in shape – BUT – it can be done in a day. Did we? Yeah, no. We’re lazy.

I really am starting to think I had a permanent smile on my face in Iceland. How could you not when everything was even more amazing than you could have imagined?

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41 Responses to “Sulfur’s Up! Riding the Lava Wave in Iceland”

  1. Andrea October 3, 2012 at 6:24 am #

    Such incredible landscapes – reminds me of New Zealand but somehow more dramatic!

    • Bethany ~ twoOregonians October 3, 2012 at 8:07 am #

      New Zealand, and a bit of Bolivia, too! : )

      • Erica October 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

        We’ve been having the Iceland vs. Bolivia in starkness convo.

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

      There is just so much in such a small space!

  2. Freyr October 3, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    Excellent photographs. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Heather October 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    I love your Iceland photos SO much.

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      I love them too. Seriously though – I’m in love.

  4. Seattle Dredge October 3, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    ughh so pretty, Iceland will always be my favourite place
    lol to the toilet, and running through the steam looks awesome
    ps – Happy birthdaaaay Erica 😀

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

      Thank you lady! While I’m not sure Iceland is my favorite place, it definitely holds a special place in my heart.

  5. Scott - Quirky Travel Guy October 4, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    Random roadside toilets and steam sprints sound like my idea of a good time.

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

      How do you NOT stop for that, right?

  6. Vineyard October 4, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    Wow, these pictures turned out gorgeous.

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

      I know. I was so stoked! It is like I know what I’m doing or something. (I seriously sometimes need reminders.)

  7. Amanda October 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    Haha, that roadside toilet/shower is so random!

    Awesome photos, though, as usual!

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

      Yes. Oh so random. Yet, somehow made sense in the weird random landscape of Iceland lol. I had to include it!

    • Kent @ No Vacation Required October 10, 2012 at 6:35 am #

      That’s what I thought!

  8. Will Jackson - The Bearded Wanderer October 5, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    Geothermally active areas are so awesome.

    I’ve been to a few places where the earth’s gooey centre either leaks out or at least makes things hot and steamy and they’ve all been super exciting.

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

      I had never been to such a “hot” geothermal place before. Springs, yes. But sulfur goodness? This was new!

  9. Matthew Karsten October 8, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    Fantastic photos guys! Looks like a whole separate world out there… always impressed with how diverse our planet is.

    • Erica October 16, 2012 at 8:18 am #

      It it sad that we DON’T know how diverse it is! Can you imagine how passionate people would be if they could see things like this?

  10. Ayngelina October 8, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    I have never seen anything like that, the views are really incredible.

    • Erica October 16, 2012 at 8:20 am #

      I just love how many surprises there are in Iceland. It is strange to think you have just seen about everything and then stumble onto this.

  11. Federico October 8, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    Interesting pic of Shaun …lol

    • Erica October 16, 2012 at 8:21 am #

      He was excited lol!

  12. Camels & Chocolate October 9, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    I forgot how Iceland smells like one giant carton of rotten eggs…or an old person fart, one.

    • Erica October 16, 2012 at 8:21 am #

      Oh it is so horrible. Crazy what you forget though, eh? The views trump the smell.

  13. Juno October 10, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Totally loving it. I loved Icelandic volcanos too!

    • Erica October 16, 2012 at 8:22 am #

      We actually didn’t really get to see any of the volcanoes! >.<

  14. Donna Spears October 11, 2012 at 12:01 am #

    That was really fun. You and your husband are having so much fun. The place is amazing! It is my first time to see like that place.

    • Erica October 16, 2012 at 8:23 am #

      Donna, we are having such an amazing time and the fact we got the opportunity to spend so much time in Iceland was more than we could have ever expected. You should check out Iceland. It can be cold but magical!

  15. Emily in Chile October 12, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    It blows my mind that Iceland has so much diversity in its landscapes when it’s only a small island!

    • Erica October 16, 2012 at 8:23 am #

      It is one of the youngest islands on the planet so there is still so much going on in the creation of this place!

  16. Alex October 12, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    One of the things I love about Iceland is that so much of it is free — they haven’t put an entry charge on nature! One of the other things I love about Iceland? That toilet.

    • Erica October 16, 2012 at 8:25 am #

      So much IS free! I don’t think we paid for much (and camping on the side of the road is free) except some of the hot pots. I think they try to make up for the fact that they gouge you for coffee or groceries. 😛

  17. Agness (@Agnesstramp) October 13, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    Hey guys! Lovely photos from Iceland 🙂 Looks like it was freezing out there. I see travellers are crazy about going to Iceland. Actually, everyone’s going or already gone to Iceland, apart from me. Guys, is that true it’s way too expensive to travel there?

    • Erica October 16, 2012 at 8:27 am #

      It isn’t cheap and is probably one of the most expensive places we have been to (minus Japan). You can do it budget though if you don’t mind camping. There are tons of options!

  18. Abby October 13, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    These pictures look like they couldn’t possibly be real. Or that they were taken on Mars. Oh, and Shaun is awesome.

    • Erica October 16, 2012 at 8:27 am #

      Seriously. I couldn’t believe my eyes that what was in front of me was on Earth.

  19. Agness (@Agnesstramp) October 16, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    Thanks guys. I was expecting this answer… Well, but it’s an absolutely awesome place!

  20. Calogero Mira November 17, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    Congrats for your photos of the lava wave in Iceland! And… congrats for your StumbleUpon profile!

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