Spurred on by a Danish guy I met last night (at my campsite by Lake Mývatn), who assured me that a return trip walking to the Hverfjall crater could be done in five hours, I set off on the hike early.
It’s an interesting walk through lava fields of various ages, the newer ones are just bare rock, the older they are the more vegetation there is that’s started to appear, from mosses to shrubs. I went past a couple of geothermally heated pools, Grjótagjá and Stóragjá. I was expecting to see masses of steam but they were fairly modest affairs, whilst still impressively warm to the touch, not as visually spectacular as I’d imagined.
Hverfjall in the distance
Sure enough about two hours until I reached the base of the Hverfjall crater, and I started the steep climb up. It’s undoubtedly an impressive sight, though the unofficial “Hikers Messageboard” of stones at the base of the crater some what takes away from the experience, it’s all “Gunnar was here” and “Sigmundur 2004”, after hours of not seeing anyone I felt right back at the heart of tourist central.
On the way back I took a detour via Dimmuborgir, a network of paths among a lava field full of striking and unusual shapes of lava.
At one point I walked through an lava arch at the top of a hill, to be met by an army of Japanese tourists the other side who all seemed to want to take a picture of me walking through the arch. “You are a hero” one of them told me – all a bit bizarre but quite amusing.
I made it back to the campsite almost exactly five hours after setting off – a decent hike and I felt like it’d been a good introduction to Iceland.
After resting up for a couple of hours I wandered up the road to the Mývatn Nature Baths, a Blue Lagoon style geothermal heated pool. It was stunning – so relaxing to be in a pool looking out over lava fields, with hardly anyone else around. Kind of like having a really big bath in the middle of nowhere.
Mývatn Nature Baths – Steamy