Let’s see… where did I leave off?
So we spent the night before in Egilsstaðir and went to Vök Baths on Lake Urriðavatn.
The next morning we woke up, and Justin cooked us some eggs in the kitchen. I also had apple skyr, which is my favorite yogurt flavor from Iceland, and we also drank Appelsín…. because why not? We packed up the car and started our drive to Mývatn, which was our destination for the day/night. It was about a two-hour drive from Egilsstaðir. It was nice and sunny when we were in Egilsstaðir, but pretty much within minutes as we pulled away from the city, it started raining and it didn’t stop raining the entire day.
The drive to Mývatn was beautiful regardless of the rain, we even drove over some snowy mountains.
We got distracted as we were driving towards Mývatn by a random waterfall on the side of the road. I noticed a pull-out on the highway, so I asked Justin to stop, and it turned out to be Rjúkandafoss, and there was even a really short trail to the waterfall. So why not? We decided to walk up the trail and get a closer look at the waterfall.
Rjúkandafoss is one of the lesser-known waterfalls in Iceland, which is the home to as many as 10,000 different waterfalls. It has a height of 139 meters and the river Ysti-Rjúkand is at its base. It was a really easy hike to the base of the waterfall. I think there are ways to get to the top of the waterfall, but we didn’t really look for one. It was a pretty waterfall and a rather memorable one on Ring Road.
After our brief hike to the base of the falls, we went back to the car and continued on our way towards Mývatn. Our destination was Dimmuborgir, and being the dorks that we are [well mostly me, I suppose, since I was the one paying DJ], I blasted the band Dimmu Borgir as we were driving towards Dimmuborgir. I’m also pretty sure I’ve seen the band Dimmu Borgir in concert before, but it was a really long time ago when I still lived on the east coast. While I don’t dislike their music, they aren’t my favorite symphonic metal band, but I do appreciate the vocals Shagrath added to March of Mephisto by Kamelot. It was raining pretty hard when we pulled into the parking lot of Dimmuborgir.
Dimmu means “dark” and “Borgir” means cities, or forts, or castle, so Dimmoborgir literally means dark city/fort/castle. It is a lava field and consists of various volcanic caves and rock formations that are reminiscent of cities or kingdoms or something similar, which is how it got its name. It is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions.
The area consists of a massive lava tube that collapsed and formed from a lava lake in a large eruption in the Þrengslaborgir and Lúdentsborgir crater row, which is to the east, and happened about 2300 years ago. At Dimmuborgir, the lava pooled over a small lake, and as the lava flowed across the wet sod, the water within the marsh started to boil, and the vapor formed the lava pillars which range from the size of a drainpipe to several meters in diameter. The lava flowed towards the lower ground in the Mývatn area, the top crust collapsed, but the hollowed pillars of the solidified lava remained. They estimate that lava lake must’ve been at least 33 feet deep based on the tallest structures that still remain. The lava flow surface is still partially intact around the Dimmuborgir region and Dimmuborgir itself sits below the surrounding surface area. The entire area is characterized by large hollow-cell and chamber-like structures that formed around bubbles of vapor and some standing lava pillars. A lot of the chambers and pillars are large enough to house humans, which also helped give the area its name.
As with everything else in Iceland, Dimmuborgir was also in Game of Thrones, it formed the background where Mance Rayder’s wildling camp is.
As places in Iceland go, I would consider Dimmuborgir to be one of the easier ones to walk around at. There are a lot of paved, short, and easy trails to the more popular attractions, and even the attractions that are a bit further away are still on well-marked paths, though Justin and I did get slightly turned around walking from the Kirkjan or Church formation. The trails have to be paved and marked because the land around the formations is so fragile and the wrong step could ruin a formation. So it was very easy to walk around there, and there is a lot to see even if you aren’t the most mobile person. The trails are also really well maintained. It wasn’t very crowded when we were there, but it was also pretty cold and rainy, which might’ve turned some people off. We took the longer path to the Kirkjan formation, and as I said, it wasn’t a really hard hike or walk or anything.
After we ventured through Dimmuborgir, we decided to check into our lodging for the night. Our lodging for the night was an Airbnb in Laugar, which was about thirty-ish minutes from Mývatn.
It was simple and comfortable. There was also a hot tub there, but we didn’t really get to check that out because it was raining the entire time we were there. We had some dinner after we checked in. I had some oatmeal, and Justin had some ramen. I read a little bit, and then it was time to drive back into Mývatn because we had reservations at Mývatn Nature Bath/Jarðböðin at 7:30 pm.
Mývatn Nature Bath/Jarðböðin is very similar to Blue Lagoon. The water is pretty much the same milky blue color that the water at Blue Lagoon is, and in many ways, it’s a smaller clone of Blue Lagoon. We lucked out when we went there since the weather was still pretty crappy and rainy, but even though the weather did somewhat affect our experience there, mainly due to the water temperature, it was very empty, most likely due to weather. The baths consist of 3.5 million liters of water with temperatures that range from 97 to 104 degrees.
Since the water isn’t chlorinated, you’re required to shower completely before going into the baths. There were some private showers and also a group shower. The showers were pretty roomy, and the water was really hot and they had shampoo/conditioner/body wash as Vök Baths did. You can order drinks to drink in the baths, but we did not.
Due to the weather being crappy, I didn’t really find the baths as hot as they should be. The colder temperature of the rain messed with the hotter temperature of the springs, so it was pretty much cold on the surface, and the heat was really only felt on the bottom. The water, for the most part, was lukewarm, except for the areas in the baths where the hot water was filtered in. We spent most of our time standing by those so we could enjoy the hot water. The baths aren’t that deep, the deepest part of the lagoon is about 4.5 feet or so. The bottom of the baths is covered with rocks. We still enjoyed our time there even though it wasn’t a true hot springs experience. Justin enjoyed standing in the man-made waterfalls at the springs. I enjoyed watching the drunk Karens hit on foreign men.
We stayed at the baths until they told everyone that we had to leave because it was closing. I got this picture of the baths as we were leaving.
It was close to 10 pm as we were leaving, and you can see how light it still was outside. We were maybe 20 or so minutes from The Námafjall Geothermal Area, if that, also known as Hevrir, and we decided to check that out as well too…. because why the hell not? It’s not like it was dark or anything.
Hevrir is very similar to Yellowstone National Park if you have ever been there. There are tons of smoking fumaroles [openings near a volcano] and boiling mud pots. The landscape ranges from different shades of brown and the entire area reeks of sulfur. Hevrir is geothermal in origin and located under the Námafjall mountain and it belongs to the Krafla volcano fissure zone. The fumaroles have a depth of 1000 meters, the temperatures are above 200 degrees Celsius, and the water that is under the ground comes to the surface as steam.
In popular culture, to continue to tradition, this was also used in Game of Thrones. Hevrir was used in the first episode of the third season. As Sam walked through a blizzard to try to get back to his men through blinding snow, the blinding snow was actually heavy steam from Hevrir.
When we got there, we were the only ones there, and we had the place to ourselves.
[all taken with my phone because I didn’t see a reason to bring a DSLR to a hot spring]
After exploring a bit of Hevrir, we drove back to our lodging, it was still raining.
The next day it was off to Goðafoss and Akureyri.