You can smell it the moment you happen across the volcanic fields. It hits your nose like a punch in the face.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mother Earth is in charge here!
“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.
He took off.
“WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. AHHHHHHHHHHH. WOOOOOOOOOOO!” running back and forth between the steam spouts.
Yup. That is my husband.
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?