Part 6: The Ring Road, Day 4
I promise this is not just a story about cows. It just starts with... A bunch of cows. There are also hell craters, dark castles, a visit to Mars, and waterfall that exists on a definite tundra.
After our wild drive over the snowy mountain (that we still don't know the name of - though I do think I pinpointed it on a map) we arrived at our guesthouse in Mývatn. I will recommend this place to anyone and everyone looking for a place to stay in this area of Iceland. Not only is the food at Cowshed Cafe the best meal I had on the trip, but it's adorable.
This was our supercute cabin, which we immediately loved. I am forever sad that we didn't get to take the porch photo we planned, but alas.
One thing I will note, and this is a general thing about Icelandic hotels/guest houses - the walls are super thin. A guy in the cabin next to ours spent a good 15 minutes gross-hacking up all of the snot in his lungs and we heard every wet, disgusting second of it until I loudly (BUT HELPFULLY) pointed out that there was tea in the cafeteria and he promptly stopped. I mean... Maybe that was obnoxious of me... But you guys didn't hear it. We did. For a long time.
The cafe itself has windows into the cowshed and the milking room. This may sound odd to some, but it was right up my alley.
After breakfast, we walked into the shed to say hello to the ladies and their calves.
Also known as the Dark Castles, because of their odd and imposing shapes, these bizarre formations at Dimmuborgir are actually collapsed lava tubes. We walked through a few different paths in the area and also had some fun in the gift shop.
The crater all the way to the left is Hverfjall, which is responsible for the tephra that covers Mývatn.
That gift shop fun I was talking about.
If you've ever wanted to go to Mars, but can't afford the ticket... Or you know... Are not an astronaut, just go to Námaskarð. I'm pretty sure this is exactly what Mars looks like. This was definitely another favorite stop on the trip, despite the overwhelming sulfur smell that permeates the area. The landscape is fascinating!
I have ridiculous amounts of video of boiling mud pots.
I decided that a cool thing to do would be to circle the vent while filming (a different video) with my GoPro. The second I hit the steam, I was damp all over and enveloped in sulfur stink. Let that be a lesson. Video is cool, though.
Krafla Víti Crater
Víti is not really the name of the crater, it just means "Hell Crater," which seems legit, though apparently people swim in there when not frozen, so who knows.
It is a steep hike to get up to the rim of this bad boy. The view from the top is incredible though.
Gotta love that wind.
There are actually two craters and the information I keep finding online is not terribly informative other than that they're Krafla explosion craters, referred to as Víti craters, and one is surrounded by some additional geothermal hotspots (the less frozen one). I don't know if only ONE is called Víti and if so, what the other is (who are you, pretty crater???) but either way, you can't really visit one without the other and it's totally worth the trip.
(FYI, I really wish there were an @Steller theme that allowed for the inclusion of panoramic photos.) (*Hint Hint. Nudge Nudge*)
For scale, the next photo was taken from the bottom of the smaller crater, right before crossing over an insufficiently rock lined bridge in some pretty nasty looking sulfur water, to climb up the other side. There are two people up top looking tiny.
There was no snow coming up the slope of the crater, but there was a ton of it going from one crater to the other, and coming back out to the parking lot. I'm sure this is not always the case, but oh man was that unpleasant. And muddy.
Mývatn Nature Baths
After a rough few hours walking through sulfur clouds and hiking around craters, the Mývatn Nature Baths were a welcome relief. Though not quite as lux as The Blue Lagoon, it was a lovely and relaxing time.
One thing I preferred (to Blue Lagoon) is that the floor of the baths is a sandy clay/mud. Tarina mentioned that Blue Lagoon had been on her first visit but must have been paved, as it was a rough, almost concrete feel.
It was also MUCH colder here than it was at The Blue Lagoon, making any trips out of the water (once in) pretty tragic. You pretty much want to mad dash for the lockers, but it's slippery, so you can't. Also, fewer private showers/changing areas (for those of us who are modest).
Vogafjós Cowshed Cafe
In an effort to keep things in order, I'm sharing this now instead of at the beginning of this story when I first mentioned our guesthouse. I did want to share the photos of our delicious food, though. Or... Mine, anyway. And that hilarious panorama. Seriously @Steller - panoramas.
Best meal I ate in Iceland. Try the Geyser Bread Ice Cream. Thank me later.
The Tundra (aka. Dettifoss)
"From now on, all trials and tribulations will be weighted against getting to Dettifoss, i.e.: "Oh... Was it was bad as Dettifoss?" Trekking over an Arctic tundra to get to this behemoth and then immediately getting soaked by its mist after 2 seconds standing at the lookout, then having to trek back and not die. Rated as a moderate hike, FYI." - My Instagram post re: Dettifoss
A moderate hike. Through a narrow snow trench for endless kilometers.
Occasional signs reminded us not to leave the "path" due to water and ice beneath the snow. How much? How deep? Who knows. And our safety net? Popsicle sticks with strings laced between them. That should make sure nobody falls. We'd already assumed as much, but this pretty much solidified our idea that Iceland's guide to tourist safety is pretty much: "Have fun! Don't die! Oh! And please don't litter!"
Here is a video of the mist and wind (the sound you hear is also how it feels when it smacks you in your face and it's freezing outside).
Sidebar: Dettifoss is actually the most powerful waterfall in Europe, so the magnitude of that was pretty awesome (and obvious) to see.
Selfoss is a little ways upstream of Dettifoss. I guess you could call it the pretty sister, though unfortunately, due to all the snow, it was roped off and impossible to get any closer than we did. Not sure if that's always the case or if there's another way to get there.
And just so you can understand where I'm coming from regarding the whole trekking through the snow situation...
a story by @thatlalagirl #iceland #ringroad #Mývatn #travel #spa #europe #goexplore #cows #travelphotography #roadtrip #crater #stellerstories #waterfall #volcano #stellerplaces #icelanding2016 #craterlake See more at ThatLalaGirl.com Flickr and Instagram Instagram: @thatlalagirl Stay tuned for the rest of my two week Iceland trip!