In the astonishing environment of lake Mývatn some corners are often inexplicably forgotten or pass unnoticed. Maybe because they are hidden a bit out of the most traveled routes or maybe because there are too many wonders in the area. In any case you can’t say you really know Mývatn area leaving some places unmarked.
A stone’s throw from Reykjahlíð, the main town of Mývatn in the north-eastern corner, an apparently regular moss field is cracked by an impressive fissure named Stóragjá. Climbing down to the bottom of it you would feel a weird anguish feeling increase within you. In some part the walls are so close to each other it almost looks like the earth is swallowing you while you walk. A poky hole is the entrance of a cave which was a popular spot to dive into the warm waters. Unfortunately now it is no longer safe to do that because of some dangerous algae.
Driving towards East from the town, a sign will point out where to turn to reach Grjótagjá. The car park is just in front of the entrance to this other cave inside a gaping fissure. And this is absolutely something else. The water that fills the cave is brightly blue and utterly clear, the air inside is warmed up by the heat of the water and the whole setting is otherworldly. The bottom of the pool is as rocky as the ceiling and the surface of the water seems to be a mirror reflecting the same picture both upwards and downwards. Again, unfortunately it’s not possible to dive into the tempting naturally heated pool (danger of falling rocks from the ceiling). The outside top part of the fissure is less impressive than Stóragiá but the wild and barren landscape is wonderful.
From Grjótagjá is already visible the broad dark silhouette of Hverfell, not far from the eastern shore of lake Mývatn. The 2700 year old crater is almost perfectly circular and its top is reachable from the parking. The uphill path is steep but easy and short, it takes only 10-15 minutes to get to the summit. Up here the breathtaking panorama stretches from the reddish and dark hills half covered in moss in the East, dotted with steam rising from the ground here and there, to the sparkling lake surrounded by lush green vegetation. Moreover the view of the huge crater itself is stunning and the walk on its rim gives different angles of the scenery which is of course the same but that seems to mutate step after step.
How to get here:
Once in Reykjahlíð, Stóragjá is just across road n.1, at the corner with the junction with road n.848. Panels and signs will help you to find it.
Grjótagjá is about 3km away from Reykjahlíð. From the junction with road n.848, drive 2,5km on road n.1 direction East until the junction with a small road to the right. A panel helps in finding the place.
To get to Hverfjall drive 3,5km from Reykjahlíð, direction South, on road n.848. A sign at a junction to the left points the way to the crater. The parking is 2,5km away on a gravel road.