This week we’re taking a close look at WIT Agent Wailana’s trip to Iceland early October. Today we continue on the Ring Road to Mývatn and Akureyi—checking out some amazing waterfalls on the way.
The NE Highlands, photo by Wailana
Dettifoss & Goðafoss
Though waterfalls are chiefly associated with the South, there are two memorable falls in the north part of the country that you must not miss on you road trip aroundIceland. On the empty road from West Iceland to Akureyri lies Goðafoss, the “waterfall of the gods.” Legend has it that in 1000 c.e., the high chief converted Christianity and threw his pagan idols down this waterfall. He might have picked a more dramatic location—the water falls a mere 39 feet down—but it’s beautiful nonetheless.
Dettifoss, photo by Wailana
Much more majestic is Dettifoss, which lies about an hour east of Mývatn. The most powerful waterfall in Europe, it is situated on the massive Jökulsá á Fjöllum river that flows from the massive Vatnajökull glacier. The falls are 330 ft wide and plunge 150 ft down into the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon.
Myvatn Area, photo by Wailana
Mývatn (pronounced “mee-va”) is a large lake in the north that is famed for its bird-watching, beautiful landscapes, and otherworldly natural attractions. Mývatn is also known for Hverabrauð, a delicious molasses bread that is slow-baked for 24 hours underground by natural geothermal heat.
Though the towns surrounding the lake are fairly tiny—the entire circumference home to only 450 inhabitants during the winter—you can easily base yourself in Reykjahlíð or Skútustaðir. Book far ahead–this is one of the more popular destinations in Iceland in the summer!
Dimmuborgir, photo by Wailana
Mývatn is a volcano lover’s paradise. What it lacks in verdant forests, the region more than makes up in the way of rock pillars, eruptions, and lava caves. Wander through Dimmuborgir, the “dark forts,” an area of volcanic arches, towers, caves and bridges. You can spend half a day exploring one of the many well-marked trails. Check out Hverfjall Crater, a massive tephra crater nearby. For some interesting lava caves, drive 45 minutes away to Lofthellir lava cave, which runs about 370m long and boasts some of the greatest natural ice sculptures in the north. The south side of the lake, Skútustaðir, is home to many pseudocraters. Krafla volcano is less than an hour’s drive away. Its latest eruption lasted from 1975 to 1984, and the area is still steaming. It’s definitely worth a visit to explore its striped lavafields, nearby geothermal field, hot mud pools, solfataras and fumaroles.
Grjótagjá Cave, photo by Wailana
About 45 minutes’ drive west of Mývatn is Iceland’s second largest city—Akureyri. With a population of 18,000—positively gigantic after hours and hours of farmsteads and wilds—the city is the unofficial capital of North Iceland. It’s a great base for exploring nearby Mývatn and Goðafoss, plus it has a few noteworthy sites itself. Don’t miss the picturesque town center, the Lystigarðurinn botanical garden, and the “art canyon” or Listagilið street—home to galleries and artwork. Check out Hallormsstaðaskogur, the largest forest in Iceland, something of an anomaly in a land without many trees!
Stay Tuned for Next Time: The West Fjords
Thinking about a trip to Iceland next summer 2014? Call 503-224-0180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to chat with one our agents! Wailana would love to share with you more of her firsthand impressions about traveling to Iceland!