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Published: December 4th 2008
Off to Lake Myvatn today - midge and mosquito capital of Iceland! In fact that's what the word 'Myvatn' actually means. Strange to name a place after its most annoying inhabitant - hardly the best advertising campaign!
Lake Myvatn is also apparently a bird watcher's paradise although we saw surpisingly few - perhaps the cold was keeping everyone but the crazy English people indoors!
The lake is Iceland's fourth largest and apparently the world's most fertile spot on a similar latitude.
It was created after the ice age ended in Iceland some 10,000 years ago. However, it was really only formed about 3800 years ago when a lava flow blocked the valley to create a shallow lake.
The lake was created by a large basaltic lava eruption 2300 years ago, and the surrounding landscape is dominated by volcanic landforms, including lava pillars and pseudocraters.
After being bitten to death despite only being a short visit we continued on to the Hverfjall Crater. Created 2,500 years ago, it is one kilometre in diameter and the concave is 140 metres deep.
We were promised it was only a short walk so we shuffled up the
outside of the crater. Literally shuffled as the dust and gravel track meant it was one step forward and slide half a metre back down the hill.
Not surprisingly it took longer than expected to make it to the top and frankly, once we got to the top, it wasn't worth it! What looked like a dusty and colourless pile of dust from the bottom turned out to be exactly that from the top.
Then we got the lovely surprise that we were walking around the entire thing - not that I'm averse to exercise but, in ridiculously high winds when we had been told to leave bags (containing our water and, incidentally, my inhalers) on the coach, it was not the best idea in the world!
Then a horribly dusty and slightly scary downhill walk (or fall, slide, skid might be a better description of my rather inelegant descent!) down to the lava parks, formed by the lava flow cooling at different rates.
Then onto the second crater of the day - Viti Crater, literally translated as Hell's Crater - where I am ashamed to say I stayed on the warm bus with my book
instead of hiking up yet another hill. Apperently this one was slightly more impressive although I'd infinitely prefer a good book!
We ended the day with a visit to the local hot springs to relax after the climb. Beautifully warm (scarily hot in places) although the water had a very odd feel to it. It's quite hard to describe but the sulphur almost felt slightly slimy on your skin and bizarrely soft. I certainly wouldn't mind having a private hot spring in my back garden after a day at work though!
Had a quick detour to the waterfall Godafoss before returning to the hotel. Another amazingly beautiful waterfall (although there are a ridiculous amount in Iceland).
The name Godafoss translates as 'Waterfall of the Gods' and comes from the year 999 or 1000 when the Lawspeaker of Iceland, Þorgeirr Ljósvetningagoði, made Christianity the official religion of Iceland.
After his conversion it is said that upon returning from the Alþingi to his home near the waterfall, Þorgeirr threw his statues of the Norse gods into it. Þorgeirr's story is preserved in Ari Þorgilsson's Íslendingabók.
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