Mývatn - A view from our expert author

A pseudocrater at Mývatn, Iceland by orxy/ShutterstockA pseudocrater at Mývatn © orxy, Shutterstock

Soothing natural baths and superb wildlife viewing can be found in the area around Lake Mývatn.

The volcanic wonderland of Mývatn is a bright oasis at the edge of Iceland’s desert highlands. Black lava fields give way to young mountains, interesting crater circles, and a flow of inland streams and lakes. The largest of these is Lake Mývatn, whose myriad pools and archipelagos are laid out with all the precision of a golf course. Yet only nature is to blame for the vivid colours and sublime contrast on offer: one hillside might be carpeted in grassy green, but the next is likely to be scorched white and dusted with yellow sulphur. It all depends on how the wind blows.

It is the famous Krafla hotspot that transforms a beautiful lake into an extraordinary landscape. The magma reservoir sits less than two miles beneath the surface – a literal bubble of volcanic activity that keeps things bubbling. Between the hot springs and mud pots the crusted ground is cracked and bulging. The most innocent outdoor stroll takes one past cones and calderas right out of a textbook. If anything, Mývatn inspires reflection about how the rest of the earth was made.

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