Monday, June 24, 2013

Day 8: Goðafoss, Mývatn, Skútustaðir, and Dettifoss

This morning we finally left Akureyri and continued on the Ring Road (Route 1) and reached Egilsstaðir, where we'll be staying until Wednesday. The drive took us about six hours, and on the way we made a few stops.

Our first stop was Goðafoss‎, one of Iceland's larger waterfalls.

Next, we traveled to Mývatn, a lake that had been created by a basaltic lava eruption 2,300 years ago; volcanic landforms surround the lake.

The name of the lake comes from the huge numbers of flies that live at the lake in summer. Fortunately, the souvenir shop sold mosquito headgear, which left us feeling very fashionable, but at least we were able to walk around without the fear of swallowing any bugs. (Yes, that's a bug that photobombed us.)

A short drive led us to Skútustaðir, the site of a national park, and where the Yule Lads live. (The Yule Lads' original role was to strike fear in the hearts of children; they're the sons of two hideous ogres, Grýla and Leppalúð.)

The park itself really does look like a place where these lads would live: It's full of pseudo-craters which are formed by steam explosions when burning lava encounters lakes or wetlands.

We took a 15-20-minute walk through the park, but there were several hiking options, ranging from a 10-15-minute easy stroll up to a multi-hour rather challenging walk; paths were well-maintained and well marked.

After lunch at Kaffi Borgir, we drove off to see Dettifoss, Iceland's biggest waterfall and Europe's most powerful waterfall based on its magnitude. Hiking optings around the waterfall ranged from 3.5 to 8 hours. The waterfall itself was really impressive - and we saw a rainbow over it (and I think I briefly saw a double rainbow).

Aside from a brief rainfall - which only happened after we'd seen the lake and the waterfalls - the entire day was warm and sunny - the best weather we've had so far. It struck us as such a cool thing to be able to stand on snow in late June, though!

Our hotel is one of the more comfortable places we're staying at; for the first time since we've gotten here, the shower is actually big enough, and there's enough counter space in the bathroom. Small victories.

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