Lake Myvatn - hverfjall
ICELAND Travel & Trails

Lake Myvatn – Is this what Mars looks like?


Lake Myvatn in Northern Iceland is packed with out-of-this world landscapes. We spent two days driving and hiking around this area and it still wasn’t enough time.  It’s hard to pinpoint one place that you must see in this area.  You just have to drive around Lake Myvatn and pick your battles.  Each place offers something different.

One of our most memorable hikes in Myvatn was on Vindbelgjarfjall.  The top of the mountain offers a stunning 360 degrees view of the area around the Lake. To get to the trailhead, we parked next to the sign for Vindbelgur.  The trailhead was easy to spot from there. We followed the yellow painted posts and started the hike on flat ground. We passed impressive views of the lava rocks. Some formations  looked as if the lava was frozen  mid-eruption. It was tempting to stray from the trail for a closer look.  However, we did see signage asking hikers to not cross the marked trail.

Lake Myvatn - vindbelgjarfjall

The trail led us to the foot of Vindbelgjarfjall and we started the hike up 529 metres to the top of the mountain. As we climbed up, the terrain changed from lava rocks and greenery to a rocky, gravel path. We found the trail steep at times and extremely windy. Just an FYI, we completed this hike in October. I’m not sure if other seasons are less windy.

The view from the side of the mountain was impressive despite the overcast fall weather. Once we reached the top, we were rewarded with sweeping views of Lake Myvatn and the pseudo craters surrounding the area. However, I have to say that the wind at the top was so strong that at times I felt like I was going to get blown over. Needless to say, we didn’t get to stay long at the top and we descended back to our car on the same trail.

Lake Myvatn - vindbelgjarfjall

Lake Myvatn - vindbelgjarfjall

Lake Myvatn - vindbelgjarfjall..

Lake Myvatn - vindbelgjarfjall.

Another great hiking trail in Myvatn is Hverfjall.  Hverfjall is an explosion crater and it is about a 452 metres high hike up to the top.  I also think it has one of the most scenic and cleanest public bathrooms I’ve ever seen in all my travels. Be warned though, the hike up to the crater is steep and it’s best to have hiking shoes for the gravel path.

hverfjall

hverfjall

Similar to our hike on Vindbelgjarfjall, this trail offered gorgeous views of the Lake Myvatn area. The difference is that the terrain on Hverfjall is so grey and stark, I felt like I was walking on one of the craters on the moon. The rim of the crater is covered in gravel, with the exception of large rocks that were spewed out from the explosion years ago. The only greenish life forms I saw were some strange lichen growing on the larger rocks.

Lake Myvatn - hverfjall

Lake Myvatn - hverfjall

If you’re crunched on time, you can hike a portion of the rim instead of walking around the whole crater. Either way the hike back down is through the same steep trail.  Just be considerate, since this is a popular hike, please share the trail with others.

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, don’t miss out on Grjotogja.  It’s a quick stop close to Hverfjall, with the parking a little too conveniently located next to the entrance of the cave. I wouldn’t list it as one of the highlights of our trip, but it’s worth a stop to see the blue thermal waters. If you’re a bit more adventurous and have a head lamp, you can explore a little further in. When we visited, it was crowded with people.

grjótagjá

Lake Myvatn of Northern Iceland – full of out-of-this world views.

Instead we had a quick look and walked a bit in the surrounding area.  The area around the cave is really stunning and calls for some careful footing since the ground is literally tearing apart. There are large crevices and holes in the ground that looks like steam was about to erupt at any moment.

Lake Myvatn - grjótagjá.

Lake Myvatn - grjótagjá.

 

After a long day of hiking, we treated ourselves to a soak in Myvatn Nature Baths. It’s the perfect place to relax.  We paid $47 CAD per person, which is less pricey than the blue lagoon entrance of $76 CAD per person. If you’re there in the winter, you might even catch the northern lights. We had cloudy skies when we visited, so we didn’t get to see the lights.  But we got to watch the sunset and it was beautiful. We stayed in the baths for hours and drove back to our cabin in darkness. I still remember sleeping like a baby that night after a long day of exploration. It’s these kind of memories that keep me longing to go back to Iceland.

Lake Myvatn - Myvatn Nature Baths

Recommendations for you visit to Lake Myvatn:

  • make sure to pick up a copy of the free Myvatn booklet located in all the visitors centre. Our Airbnb cabin actually had copies of it and it was our guide during our two days.
  • wear layers, including hat and scarf
  • bring hiking shoes and hiking socks if you’re planning on doing a whole day of hiking
  • bring flip flops or sandals if you plan on taking a dip in the Myvatn Nature Baths. We also heard that at times the water in Grjotogja is not too hot for bathing.  It’s best to ask a local if you plan on taking a dip there.
  • for videos and photos we used a GoPro and iPhone and we found the results to be sufficient. If you’re serious about photography, I’m sure you’ll know to bring your DSLR.

If you like this post, please check out my list of Top Ten Things to Do In Iceland. Please also subscribe and share.  Cheers!


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