|The Geo thermal activity became a fascination for all of us. It smelt terrible though.|
The earth sizzles and smells but looks exotic
Being in Iceland gave me a fair idea now what earth must have looked like in nascent stages. There is no predictability in what you would come across next and after a couple of days we were no longer surprised by what came along as we drove from one place to another. This does not mean that fascination deserted us. Each new thing concerning nature fascinated us and we hungered for more.
As we drove towards north Iceland and crossed the Myvtn lake area, we could see smoke from a spread out area. Many cars were parked there to see this wonderful Geo thermal phenomenon of this place called Námaskarð which earns its notoriety chiefly because of its sulfurous mud springs and steam springs. You can smell sulfur in the air and it is extremely overpowering. While the rocks sizzled and smoked, the gurgling sound of hot pools could be heard a few hundred yards away as it spurted small quantities of hot water. Pathways have been made and certain areas had been cordoned off to avoid accidents. We walked around these rocks, pools and the sizzling earth in a very disciplined manner.
|This is next to Námaskarð pass. The color and feel of landscape is very different in this area. I loved the way the road meanders in between the brownish hills. |
The Myvatn area itself can surprise you by it's beauty as well as ugliness. Some parts of earth look as if the inside of the earth has erupted and come out on surface. Someone described it as earth turning upside down. The Myvatn lake is nice and was formed due to volcanic activity and nearby are sizzling lava fields as well as the Krafla Caldera. Krafla lava fields have walking trails and that is another experience as rocks could be hot and falling on them dangerous. Nature itself is strange. While these volcanic activities sound unattractive, they have produced areas having rare fauna and flora. The fish are the best and birds found here are rare.
|The boiling pool. I think it was 100 mtrs deep. It would keep gurgling and spitting.|
|My wife Devicka doesn't like strong smells but here surprisingly she looks very comfortable even as sulphur smell rules the atmosphere.|
Dettifoss- The strongest falls of Europe
While you get the views as per the photographs above, not very far from here are the strongest waterfalls of Europe called the Dettifoss. The falls are 100 metres (330 ft) wide and have a drop of 45 metres (150 ft) down to the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. While coming towards Myvatn we had taken a detour to go to Dettifoss as these falls are pretty famous. The road going to the falls was not too good but once you reach the destination, you feel refreshed seeing the gushing water. You have to hike down to the falls from the parking area. There were just basic toilets here and once again there were no tickets and no please to eat or drink. Many people were walking to another falls around 45 -60 minutes hike away. We didn't do that but lazed around and walked around. The water is slightly brownish here and it's all to do with volcanic activity. The area around Dettifoss is rough and rocky and it's difficult to believe that just a few km's away the grounds are green and lush.
|The sound is deafening as the Dettifoss plunges deep down the gorge.|
|The Jökulsárgljúfur canyon cut by river and the rocky landscape near the Dettifoss waterfalls.|
The Northern Capital -Akureyri
|View from our apartment.of a town normally covered with clouds. Cruise ships come from Norway.|
One would have liked to spend more time at the Myvatn area as it had a lot to offer and lot of interesting 'nature' to offer including a Geo thermal hot bath, but it poured incessantly so we went for lunch. My son Kartik was interested in Volcanic caves and Krafla lava fields but as the rain refused to stop we decided to drive on to our apartment at Akureyri. Akureyri is the second largest town of Iceland and known as the Northern Capital. Our Halllandsnes Apartments were bang opposite the town on a hill and we had the sea between us. The apartments had in it's vicinity a gushing waterfall and it was boiling hot water ! It was while we were in Akureyri that Iceland played an important match of Euro 2016 against England and came out victorious. Iceland Captain Aron Gunnarsson was from Akureyri so the entire town went doubly wild. It was a night of celebrations all over Iceland.
|Victory of England meant all night of celebration and hangover the next day.|
We were in Akureyri for 2 days and our time in Akureyri was a relaxed time as we went for long walks, bathed in hot tub, had self made barbecue dinners and we went for a drive near the tiny but scenic airport and found a lovely Christmas shop. Christmas in Iceland is very different from rest of the world and not only do celebrations last many days but for the tiny population, it is the biggest social networking time. As an excursion from here, we drove to the North town of Husavik on Arctic sea, famous as a Whale watching centre. Akureyri itself was pretty and had some good restaurants and supermarkets. After being in wilderness for last few days it was good to see some civilisation and to have some places to shop and good restaurants to have meals.
|After roaming around the whole day the hot tub in open was soothing.|
|We enjoyed these barbecue dinners and had to shift in shade as it would rain each evening.|
|Christmas shop. It was very sweet and interesting.|
Husavik - A place for whale watchers
Husavik was a small little town ( population around 2300) and it seems that anyone who comes here does so for whale watching. They call it the Whale capital of Iceland. There is almost a guarantee of getting very close to whales. We had seen enough whales during the Alaska cruise so gave this a miss. It was also very cold and windy and the idea of being in a boat in Arctic sea for 3 hours was not very appealing. We met a few people who had been for a boat trip and they had all seen whales from close quarters during the trip.
It had been a lovely drive and we drove through Goðafoss ( Waterfall of the gods). This was another spectacular waterfall and by now we had lost count of the number of amazing falls we had seen.
|Goofoss falls have a lot of stories associated with them.|
|This church is the landmark of Husavik. Don't miss the lavender coloured mountains behind the church. All over Husavik we found these lavender mountains.|
|The Arctic sea. Cross this and you are at Arctic circle. You can see full town of Husavik in this snap.|
End of driving
The drive to Reykjavik was as scenic as what we had got used to. Though it rained incessantly, it was a pleasure driving on those curvy roads with mountains, rivers, lakes, sheep, horses and lush fields.
It was a relief returning the car to car rental agency as we had had no mishaps but then we were equally sad to end this 7 days of driving in the most beautiful country that we had ever visited.
|From 7) above we drove to Reykjavik 8) in around 6 hours (including stoppages and lunch).|