Our journey from Laugafell to Lake Myvatn involed a different route from the F821 we had used to come up from Sauodakrokur. Instead we jogged east to join the F26, which is the other, longer route that crosses the highlands that we had decided not to take during our first crossing where we had used the F35 Kolour route through Hreravellir. We were just picking it up at its northern end but at least we did that much. Turns out it was relatively easy, not nearly as challenging as the F821 had been when we came up.
The descent brought us into Lake Myvatn at a very decent hour, with lots of time to explore and stop for tea at a roadside cafe before looking for a campground.
Compared to the grey desolateness of Laugafell Myvatn was relatively tropical. Located at the northern end of the geothermal ridge that runs northeast – southwest across Iceland, the Krafla Volcanic field near Lake Myvatyn has a diverse range of active and idle volcanic craters.
One of the most characteristic features are the many lava ‘pillars’ that are found throughout the area, formed when by lava flows cooled by water. https://www.livescience.com/40318-lava-pillars-formed-in-iceland.html
But the best part of Myvatn was the “Nature Baths”, an absolute not-to-be-missed spot. Like the more famous Blue Lagoon near the national airport in Reykjavik, the Myvatn Nature Baths are not natural like many of the hot springs throughout the country, but rather consist of a large man-made pool. Several people we spoke to likened it to the more well-known Blue Lagoon near the airport in Reykjavik, except Myvatn is less expensive, less crowded, and more beautiful, offering a lovely view down the hillside toward the lake as you soaked. A feature we also took full advantage of was the ability to add beer to your ticket when you enter. You get a token (or 2 or 3) which you can wave at one of the attendants around the pool who then will bring you a cold one in a plastic mug. The afternoon we were there the sun was shining and it was a delightful experience. I did not think to take a photo, so am adding here a stock photo of the pool from the web.
Lake Myvatn was also the site of one of the more frustrating campgrounds we experienced in Iceland. Camping Myvatn was frustrating because it has a beautiful lakeside location, but the enjoyment of the site is severely limited by the way the owners manage it. It is run like a parking lot, in which the RV campers are required to line up so that no space is wasted and they can squeeze in as many campers as happen by on any given night.
I had parked at the end of a parking lot and opened the rooftop tent and erected the awning and table into an empty space beside us. The ‘monitor’ actually came by to ask me to keep to our space, which was a parking space with lines on either side. There ensued quite a battle between the monitor and us and some of the European camper owners in the vicinity, the monitor eventually retreated, but the incident took much of the pleasure out of the moment. The co-ed washrooms were also crowded and unpleasant, and if you wanted to wash dishes you had to do so at a line of sinks in the middle of a field with no protection from the elements. Stay away from Camping Myvatn! There are two or three other campgrounds just up the road.
Having leaned that lesson, a few days later after Maurice had flown out of Akureryi I transited back through Lake Myvatn, but instead of going to a campground I chose to boondock up across a rock track in the middle of a lava field, quite hidden from the road. This was one the only occasion were I camped wild in Iceland.
From Myvatn, Mauric and I headed north for an excursion to the Arctic Circle. It was an challenging end to Maurice’s visit, and both man and vehicle were put through their paces.