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Kálfastrandavogar - Höfði lava pillars at Mývatn

The amazing Mývatn Area in North-Iceland - Part I

Regína inside Lofthellir cave Mývatn

Mývatn in North-Iceland is my all-time favourite area in Iceland and should not be missed while visiting my country. The Mývatn area is called Mývatnssveit, but we Icelanders always refer to it as going to Mývatn.

At Mývatn, you can f.ex. walk on the rim of the pseudocraters Skútustaðagígar, see beautiful lava pillars by Lake Mývatn, walk through amazing lava formations in Dimmuborgir - Dark Fortress, visit a cave with geothermal water and bathe in the Mývatn Naturebaths, which are referred to as the Blue Lagoon of the North.

Top photo: inside Lofthellir cave

Klasar at Kálfastrandavogar Mývatn

Klasar at Kálfastrandarvogar

Here you can also visit the spot where the lava flood stopped right by a church, camp in a lava field, hike on the sandy volcano Mt. Hverfjall, crawl into the lava cave Lofthellir and see amazing ice sculptures and many, many more things, which I am going to show you in the Amazing Mývatn Area in North-Iceland I-IV series.

And if you travel a little bit further east you can see the bubbling mud pools by Mt. Nàmafjall and visit the area referred to as Hell's kitchen.

Leirhnjúkur mud pools in N-Iceland

The geothermal area Leirhnjúkur by Krafla

And in the Krafla area, you can go for a very interesting hike in the mud pool area of Leirhnjúkur by the Krafla central volcano and walk on the rim of a crater filled with the most beautiful blue lake, called Víti or Hell.

There are just endless interesting things to see and do in this area.

Skútustaðagígar pseudocratersSkútustaðir pseudo craters in the Mývatn area in northeast Iceland

Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters in the Mývatn area

As you enter the Mývatn area the first place of interest are the Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters. These pseudocraters are often called rootless craters or rootless cones as they have no end to them as do normal craters.

This natural phenomenon is formed when lava flows over wet ground and pushes the ground down. This causes a lot of steam to be trapped under the weight of the lava which then causes a lot of pressure. When the pressure becomes too great it causes steam explosions and the formation of these beautiful pseudocraters.

Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters were created in the eruption of  Lúdentarborgir and Þrengslaborgir some 2,300 years ago.

Skútustaðir pseudo craters in the Mývatn area in northeast Iceland

Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters

It is possible to walk on the rim of the pseudocraters and paths will lead you to two of the craters. There is an excellent view from here of Lake Mývatn and the surrounding areas.

Mývatnsstofa Information CentreDifferent types of lava at Mývatnsstofa Information Centre

Mývatnsstofa Information Centre - different types of lava

At Mývatnsstofa Information Centre, which is run by the Environmental Agency, you can get all the information you need about the Mývatn area, given that you need more information after reading my 5-part travel-blog about this area ;)

Here you will also be able to visit a small geology exhibition. Mývatnsstofa opened up in a new location in 2021 by Skútustaðagígar. 

The Grænavatn Turf HouseThe Grænavatn Turf House Mývatn

The Grænavatn Turf House

As those of you, who read my travel-blog, know, then I love turf houses and have written about almost all of the turf houses left in Iceland. I find the turf houses at Grænavatn to be so beautiful. The turf houses left in Iceland are all unique and the two-storey house with a turf roof at Grænavatn is so big and majestic.

I have written a special travel-blog about Grænavatn turf house, which was built in 1913. Grænavatn is a settlement farm, meaning that the Vikings built a farm here, so there might have been a turf house in this location since the Settlement of Iceland.

The Grænavatn Turf House Mývatn

The Grænavatn turf house

The turf house is not visible from the main road, but it is located midway between Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters and Dimmuborgir lava formations. The turf house is located next to the farm at Grænavatn, so let's be respectful while visiting it as this is the driveway to the farm. 

Lake Mývatn & the lava pillars at KálfastrandarvogarLava pillars in the Mývatn area in northeast Iceland

Lake Mývatn & the lava pillars at Kálfastrandarvogar

Lake Mývatn, Iceland's 4th largest lake, was created in a basaltic lava eruption some 2,300 years ago. There are so many wonderful lava formations in this area, including the lava pillars by and in Lake Mývatn.

The lake is 37 km2, with a depth of 2.5-4 meters and dotted with approx. 50 islands, many of which contain pseudocraters. The lake is protected as a nature reserve.

A Mandarin duck at the Sigurgeir's Birds Museum Mývatn

A Mandarin duck at the Sigurgeir's Birds Museum - I would love to see this colourful duck at Mývatn

The waterbird life here is very diverse, including 15 species of ducks that nest on a regular basis here at Lake Mývatn and on the Laxá river, and in few places in the world are there as many duck species gathered as at Mývatn. And then we have the stray ducks.

By Lake Mývatn, you will find an excellent museum, the Sigurgeir's Birds Museum, which I visited last summer and on which I have added a special travel- blog. At the museum, you will find specimens of all the breeding birds in Iceland bar one, the grey phalarope.

The photo of the Mandarin duck I took at the Birds Museum, but this duck can be seen from time to time by Lake Mývatn. I have never seen it myself, but would absolutely love to see it. It is amazingly colourful during the breeding season.

Flórgoði - a horned grebe at Lake Mývatn

I spotted this colourful bird Flórgoði - a horned grebe at Lake Mývatn

There is a lot of midge/blackfly at Mývatn, and the name of the lake literally means the Lake of the midge/blackfly. Due to the midge, the fishing here is very good and Mývatn is filled with trout and lake-char weighing up to 20 pounds.

The farmers by Mývatn net thousands of trout in the summertime and fishing through ice is popular in the wintertime. The midge is very annoying at times and has been known to bite, me included, so we have to wear flynets on certain occasions, f.ex. when we are painting the summer cottage and when I am picking the Iceland Moss.

Hávella - Old-squaw at Mývatn

I spoted this Hávella - Old-Squaw by Lake Mývatn

But it is only annoying at certain times in the summertime and then it gets so numerous that we have seen black clouds of it flying around. You might notice it when you drive through such clouds.

The very rare Moss balls can be found in Mývatn. The only other lake where Moss balls are common is in Lake Akan in Hokkaido Japan. And it can be found in Scotland and it appeared in Sidney as well.

Klasar at KálfastrandarvogarKálfastrandavogar - Klasar lava pillars at Mývatn

Kálfastrandarvogar - Klasar lava pillars at Mývatn

Kálfastrandarvogar is the name of the place where the most beautiful lava pillars in Lake Mývatn, Klasar or Strípar, can be seen. A gravel road leads to Kálfastrandarvogar and from there a relatively short hike leads to the lava pillars.

Klasar can be seen from above from the Höfði peninsula as well.

Regína by Klasar at Kálfastrandavogar Mývatn

Klasar at Kálfastrandarvogar

These are the lava pillars depicted on the postcards of Mývatn. Klasar were formed in the same way as Dimmuborgir when molten lava flowed over a lake and steam issued through vents creating these beautiful freestanding lava pillars.

Due to increasing traffic to the lava pillars in Kálfastrandarvogar, the area closest to the lava pillars has been fenced off.

 It is still lovely visiting them, but it is no longer possible to peek through the holes in the pillars as I used to do when I was younger.

Klasar at Kálfastrandavogar Mývatn

Klasar in Mývatn and Mt. Vindbelgur in the distance

I do understand that they have to be fenced off as too much traffic could ruin this landmark of Mývatn. 

Better to be safe and sorry here and keep this wonderful pearl of nature for future generations to enjoy.

A goat on the path leading to Klasar Mývatn

A goat by the path leading to Kálfastrandarvogar

The hike back and forth in a circle at Kálfastrandarvogar is approximately 45 minutes. It is a beautiful easy hike in lovely surroundings and it is very likely that you will run into some goats on this hike. 

Once we saw several goats by the path and they did not budge - this is obviously their territory. They are so cuddly and cute :)

Höfði peninsulaHöfði peninsula in the Mývatn area in northeast Iceland

Höfði peninsula and Lake Mývatn

Höfði is a beautiful peninsula in the Mývatn area. You can enter a gate at the parking lot and walk to the top of Höfði and have a breathtaking panoramic view of Lake Mývatn and the surrounding areas.

Höfði peninsula used to be barren until the proprietor of the peninsula and his wife started planting thousands of trees and plants during their summer holidays. They carried out this work for decades and after the husband died the wife donated Höfði to the county.

Regína by Lava pillars in the Mývatn area in northeast Iceland

Visiting Höfði back in 2010

Thanks to these hard-working people Höfði is now open to the public and we get to visit this beautiful green peninsula with a lot of vegetation, flowers and extraordinary views. 

There are some beautiful walks at Höfði, and seeing that my husband's family owns a summer cottage at Mývatn then we spend a lot of time at Mývatn and love visiting Höfði.

Kálfastrandavogar - Höfði lava pillars at Mývatn

Visiting Höfði in 2020

You will find paths around the peninsula and from the furthest point of Höfði, you will get a different view of the most beautiful lava pillars in Mývatn - Klasar of Kálfastrandarvogar. 

Lofthellir lava cave and the huge ice sculpturesLofthellir lava cave and the huge ice sculptures at Mývatn

Huge ice sculptures in Lofthellir cave

Hidden away in Mývatn is the extraordinary lava cave, Lofthellir, where you can find the largest ice sculptures in a lava cave in Iceland. Only one tour operator takes people down into Lofthellir cave as far as I know.

The visit to Lofthellir is quite an adventure as to reach it I had to squeeze through a narrow hole by the entrance to the lava cave - then swing on ice until I reached the main dome of Lofthellir with the amazing natural ice sculptures!

Lofthellir lava cave Mývatn

Visiting Lofthellir

Lofthellir was discovered by chance, as it were, in the 1980s after an earthquake. The roof of the cave seemingly collapsed in this earthquake revealing to us this amazing lava cave.

The lava takes on such beautiful colours and in the cave, you will see pink, red, yellow and multi-coloured lava rocks, some of them shiny and sparkling. And ice sculptures of all shapes and sizes - beware of not stepping on baby ice on the floor :)

 Lofthellir Mývatn

Inside Lofthellir

I have written another detailed travel-blog about my visit to Lofthellir cave, and I highly recommend visiting it given that you are not claustrophobic. 

The Extraordinary Ice Sculptures in Lofthellir Cave in Mývatn North-Iceland

Lofthellir cave Mývatn

Lofthellir cave

I have only touched on a few beautiful spots to visit at Mývatn - in chronological order - and will continue to show you more interesting things to see and do in my series of Mývatn travel blogs. Next, we are going to visit Dimmuborgir - the Dark Fortress.

To reach the Mývatn area you can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive up here in a couple of days.

The amazing Mývatn Area in North-Iceland - Part I

I have added many more travel-blogs on the Mývatn  area, there are just so many things to see and do here in my favourite spot in Iceland:

The Amazing Mývatn area - part I

The Amazing Mývatn area - part II

The Amazing Mývatn area - part III

The Amazing Mývatn area - part IV

The Amazing Mývatn area - a Compilation of the Sights

The Sigurgeir's Bird Museum at Mývatn - Breeding Birds in Iceland

Úlfhildur the Elf-lady at Lake Mývatn in North-Iceland - an Icelandic Folklore

A Wonderful Day of exploring the Extraordinary Mývatn Area in North-Iceland

The Extraordinary Ice Sculptures in Lofthellir Cave in Mývatn North-Iceland

A Unique Lava Walk through the Colourful Lava Field at Gjástykki in North-Iceland

Have a lovely time at Mývatn :)