Faroe and Iceland - Facts and Information
Iceland - Myvatn
An itinerary of our trip in Iceland between Egilsstadir and Myvatn
Comments on our experiences and what we enjoyed.


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The Ring Road - new and old
Heading north from Egilsstadir the road leaves Jökuldalar and climbs onto the plateau to skirt the interior on its way to Myvatn. All of this run is impressive but, too be frank, after a while it becomes somewhat boring. A fair chunk of this route is new. Consider a detour onto the old Ring Road, now Highway 901. We did this on the way back and it is worthwhile with some amazing views. The road is good but appeared to have been resurfaced recently and, with the little traffic it gets, was still rough. It passes through Mödrudalur, the highest permanent settlement in Iceland. We would have liked to spend longer there as it was a lovely day, but the strong wind from the interior was beginning to blow up a lost of dust. Not far from the current Ring Road along here Highway 907 turns south. We had hoped to get down there to the folk museum at Sænautasel. We knew that 901 was still closed when we went north, and unfortunately when we came back along it at the end of the trip 907 proclaimed itself closed at the junction.

A few miles before Reykjahlíd and Myvatn there is a large car park by the side of the road for the hot springs, mud pools and solfataras. This gets busy, but usually if you have time to wait the coaches clear and you have the place to yourself. There is a viewing platform and you can wander round the pools, but under no circumstances leave the paths. The surface here, when wet, sticks to footwear and is difficult to remove. However once rain stops it seems to dry out quickly. The same applies to the crater at Víti. Hverir is impressive and always worth a visit, but even outside the main season it was busy and there are less crowded sights nearby.

Near Hverir Highway 863 leaves the Ring Road and heads a few miles north to the Krafla geothermal area with its futursistic power station. This has been the site of relatively recent eruptions and some more may be due before long. The road ends at a car park by the lake filled crater of Víti. Most people stagger the few yards up the steps to the viewing area, tick the box on their sheet then leave. This is a pity as you can walk right round the crater (we didn't, the far side was still blocked with snow and the path closed to walkers) which is easy walking, although a little loose on one or two of the steeper bits. We went round both sides and found some nice little thermal springs and pools.

Just below Víti is another car park which gives access to Leirhnjúkur. This area fascinated us and we made two visits there. The first was on a rather dull, damp day but this was very atmospheric as there was a lot of steam issuing from the still warm ground in the lava flows. The second was a glorious day with super views, but much less steam. From the park a path heads across to some nice hot springs and mud pools. From there the waymarks continue across the old fissures to a cone. Having got there we thought at first that the path ended, but in fact it runs round to the left of the cone and through some incredible formations to climb to a good view point before returning to the pools and car park. Not many people seemed to go right round, which we think is a great pity. There are paths from here to Myvatn but they were closed due to snow when we were there in early June.

The main 'settlement' of Reykjahlíd is a rather spread out affair with limited facilities. However it is the main centre hereabouts, but we were glad we were not stopping there. We tried the special bread cooked in the ground, OK but certainly not special. Myvatn means 'midge lake' and it lived up to its reputation in places as near the shore the flies were unpleasant, even if non-biting, and driving through them in places they sounded like heavy rain on the windscreen. Myvatn is famous for its bird life, especialy at the south western corner. Myvatn, in aerial pictures, looks lovely but at ground level we thought it disappointing, although parts of the shore are very pretty. The pseudocraters are fascinating, we walked round those near Skútustadir, but to be honest you see them just as well from the road. However the little wooded peninsula at Höfdi has some very nice walks and good views.

Just north of Höfdi Highway 884 leads to a car park at Dimmuborgir. There are a series of waymarked walks amongst the fantastic shapes of the lava here. Further north still a track goes to a park at the base of the Hverfjall cone. Whilst this is made of loose material the path up to the rim from the car park is steep but stable. We walked right round the rim, which gives good views, but it's further than you realise. There is a path down the south side towards Dimmuborgir but this looked nastily loose.

We stopped at the farm guesthouse at Stöng for three nights. Initially its location three miles down an unsealed, unclassified road caused a little concern but the road was fine, the setting was splendidly isolated and we thoroughly enjoyed it. One day we went back early specially to go for a walk down the road beyond the farm along the slopes of Sandfell just to see a little more of this sort of country. It was barren, bleak, lonely - and we loved it!

More information
A number of worthwhile web sites are shown on the external links page for Iceland.

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