Lake Myvatn in North Iceland - General Information
Area full of geothermal and volcanic features
There are few places in Iceland that can boast from a mountain scene like the one Myvatnssveit area has and people are most likely to enjoy that scenery upon the Myvatnsheidi heath. Most of the mountains in the neighborhood of Myvatn lake were formed in sub glacial eruptions few thousand years ago. All those mountains are easily reachable and the view from their tops is splendid.
We can design a tour for you to Lake Myvatn and surroundings, from Reykjavik. It is recommended that this tour is no shorter than 3 days. We can provide a guide, transfer, all activities and accommodation.
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Geological formation in historic times
There are only about 10,000 years since the whole area of Myvatn lake and surrounding territory was covered with glaciers. It was a barren wasteland, but shortly after that eruptions started and the glaciers mostly disappeared and vegetation established itself in the area. Around 3,500 years ago a great eruption occurred east of Blafjall mountain and the crater Ketildyngja was formed. A whole lot of molten lava raised down the slopes to the lowland and covered the countryside. The lava flow cut off every stream and river so a great lake was formed in the midst of the black desert that followed from the eruption, but due to the abundance of water in the area, vegetation soon caught roots and flourished once again.
And then 2,800 years ago, the Myvatnssveit area was once again hit with catastrophe when the notorious volcano Hekla erupted violently and spewed ash in a several hundred kilometer radius and the area was once again covered in ash, now white instead of black.
2,500 years ago eruptions again started in the Myvatnssveit area and mountain Hverfell(Hverfjall) formed in a major explosive eruption that only lasted for few days. A lot of material came from the crater that mounted the opening and formed what is now a 150 meter high volcanic cone.
Only 500 years later a massive eruption started once again in the area. The countryside literally was ripped apart by the giant convulsions of the eruption. The molten lava streamed all over the area and in one place it formed a molten lava lake. The lava lake was partially hardened when the rest of the molten magma was flushed out and out of it were the magnificent Dimmuborgir formed, but Dimmuborgir are virtually a one giant city of hardened lava formations, arches, spines and cathedrals.
The lava flow also created all of the pseudo-craters of the area and also most of the small islands in lake Myvatn.
The area took several millenniums to form the vegetative status its in today and all travelers admire and love, though there have been eruptions in the area in recorded history and most recent are the Myvatn fires from 1724-29 and the Krafla eruption 1975-84.
Around the year 1860 a heathen grave was discovered near Myvatn lake in Baldursheimur, many interesting artifacts were uncovered in that grave and along the remains of the viking buried there, was the skeleton of his horse, a sword, a spear, an axe, a shield along with an ancient chessboard and carved likeness of a man. This archaeology find was the stepping stone for other future archaeological finds and the foundation of an archaeology museum in Iceland.
Near Skutustadir Myvatn area travelers can find a small but beautiful church built in 1856. Close by are several pseudo-craters that were formed when the lava that formed Dimmuborgir ran into the lake Myvatn. The pseudo-craters were put on the National Preservation list in 1973, although the craters have been somewhat ruined by local farmers since then.
The lake Myvatn is the sixth largest in Iceland, 37 square kilometers. The lake is 277 meters over sea level and it has many islands and islets in it. The lake is fed by nutrient-rich spring water and has a high abundance of aquatic insects (Chironomidae) and Cladocera that form an attractive food supply for ducks.
The duck species composition is unique in the mixture of Eurasian and North American elements and of boreal and arctic species. Most of the ducks are migratory, arriving in late April - early May from north-western Europe. The most abundant is the Tufted Duck, which immigrated to Iceland at the end of the 19th century. The Greater Scaup is the second most common duck species.
A silica based algae was being produced from the lake and exported from 1967-2004, when they quit production. Today local people have been attracting tourist to their area using the healing powers of their natural geothermal baths and silica based bud baths, containing a unique blend of minerals, silicates and geothermal microorganisms.
The area is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. It offers a variety of accommodation services, restaurants and activities throughout the year. Explore the surroundings on numerous well-marked paths or follow the signs along the National Road guiding you to all major places of interest. Allow yourself to lose track of time while admiring the beauty of the landscape and abundant flora and birdlife.
Places not to be missed include Hverfjall, Dimmuborgir, Grjotagja, Skutustadagigar, Hofdi, Lofthellir, Leirhnjukur, Krafla and the hot springs east of Namskard, not to mention the craters of Ludent and Viti(Hell). There are some great hiking routes in the area too.
A total of around 450 people live in the district of Skutustadahreppi with around 200 in the village of Reykjahlid.