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Iceland – Meeting on Another Planet IX

Published: 18.1.2015
We moved to the rhyolite hill on the opposite side. It is what remained of Leirhnjúkur crater. The land is really strange yet beautiful.

17. 8. 2013

Víti crater, Leirhnjúkur

For the first time in my life I felt like on the moon there. Colorful shades you can see there are really hard to describe (rhyolite is igneous rcok of light color, in some cases it could have even shades of red). When you walk around it absolutely changes. You walk by smelly lakes, smoking sulphur, until you reach Hell. The crater is called Hell yet beautiful aquamarine water really doesn’t give any resemblance of hell. You have to follow designed roads in the area, and you really shouldn’t leave them as the terrain is unbelievably hot. It could surprise you how hot it is.  


In geological terms, Iceland is the youngest in Europe and it still evolves. Many tectonic forces compete in the terrain. Around 50% of the surface are sand zones, 20% greenery (meadows, forests, marshalnds), 12% glaciers, and 11% lava fields. The rest consist of sands. So there are not many places where people could live. Moreover, Iceland is one of the world’s most active volcanic areas. There are about 200 volcans in the country, about 9 of them have gone live since the 9th century (when the island was settled). More than 150 eruptions have been recorded. On average there is one eruption in five years. Life there really is not easy yet locals don’t give up and try to utilize everything the land gives them. For instance, people have been using warm water since time immemorial. At first to wash clothes or fo cooking. Later geothermal power plants were built to utilize hot steam coming up from deep drill holes. The steam is used to heat buildings. Warm water at many toilets across country might be a pleasant surprise to you.


Krafla geothermal plant is our next stop. We saw a short movie describing how hot springs are utilized to create energy. We cannot acces the plant itself. Yet there are photos and descriptions in the visitors room.

Námafjall - colorful ridge is another nice thing we have seen today. The first thing you see at the bottom of the mountain is Hverir – a huge field of bubbling mud pools. Hot smelly pools are really photogenic. The temperature there reaches even 200 °C. Even there you have to keep to designated trails and follow wooden pathways which lead you through the area safely. After lakes we see steamy apertures, piles of rocks, gravel, and ground cracked due to heat. Steam intensively streamed from the openings.


We climbed to the top of Námafjallu. It offers beautiful views of the landscape. I am saying that we climbed but for me it is one of the last peaks. I do not climb much any more. It is difficult for me to overcome 500 meters of altitude. Mirek, a great guy, is going with me. He refills me with energy and enthusiasm to go on. The effort is really worth it as we look at the whole area of Mývatn, from Hrossaborg to k Hverfjall.


I made it to the top. We are returning to the camp. We have many great impressions and even my memory card is full of great pics. What a better way to end the day, even the sun eventually defeated bad weather. A bath in thermal spas does the job. There are various options for bathing in the area. Today, we choose small spas of Jarðböðin. Many are interested in it and eventually 20 of us go. The spa consist of couple of small pools, and great wooden boxes inside of which up to 6 persons can rest. The temperature varies depending on the place. The best is just to swim and enjoy everything to the fullest. If you get enough of hot water, you can go to sauna which is common for men and women. Inside is 40 °C and we stay there for 3 hours and pay 2900 ISK. It is a group discount as usual price is 3200 ISK.


We absorbed the island’s atmosphere and assimilated to the habits of the locals. Elves and trolls have to be communicated with. So we ask them to change a rainy day to a sunny one. Thermal spa and joint bath is a great way to realize it. We join our hands and ask magical beings for help. In the morning, we find out that our plea fulfilled. We return to the camp at around 11p.m. It is really cold, about 6 °C. So I quickly go to the tent and to my sleeping bag.


Next time you learn how pseudocraters are created. Also, we will se the falls of gods, and Iceland's second largest city.


Text and photo: Magdaléna Radostová

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