Like a royal necklace, one bedazzling jewel after another stuns your eyes as you turn another corner, climb another mountain, skirt the sea on a gravel road or bathe in the milky turquoise waters of a volcanic crater.
This is the north of Iceland where the country hugs the arctic circle, waterfalls playfully tumble down mountain gorges and rainbows leap up to meet you not to mention terrain that is referred to as Mars on Earth. I was bewitched or was that be-trolled? You never know where the little devils might find you.
At the right time of year, if you spend five days here, there’s a 90% chance you’ll see the northern lights. It’s a jewel that will leave you mesmerized and to see the aurora borealis would be a dream come true. It was for me.
The north is also a land of wildlife. Here I caught a great tail flip from a humpback.
How do you do it? Go to Husavik and catch a boat from there. I took a traditional Icelandic Schooner but if you get queasy like me in tumultuous waters, I would certainly advise against doing it this way. Most of the people, including myself, had such difficulty keeping our breakfast down, it was near impossible to enjoy it.
Much of Iceland has been shaped by volcanoes as I’m sure you already know. And, if you can make the hike, Krafa crater was my favorite in Iceland. I was fascinated by the color and the fact that the water is 30 degree Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) despite being a stone’s throw from the north pole! Why? Think of the geothermal activity in the area.
Oh and did I mention there are more than 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland of which some of the largest are in the north? These jewels are everywhere like diamonds separating the rubies, sapphires and emeralds.
Somewhat surprisingly, the north is not the coldest place in Iceland. In fact, by Icelandic standards, it’s rather moderate. But don’t break out the suntan oil just yet as after all it is still Iceland! What else did I learn or experience in Northern Iceland? Near Mytvan Lake you are going to see handfuls of people walking around with a fly mask on – yes – one just like horses wear. I grew up on a horse farm so I know about flies but the flies in Mytvan are legendary. Never seen anything like it. It might have actually been annoying if that weren’t so many that I couldn’t stop laughing at the whole situation. Moreover, in Mytvan Lake you will experience the smell of sulfur and I mean more so than when you were in 10th grade Chemistry Lab. The lake, your shower, the sink tap, every bit of the water in the area has that sulfuric odor but it is the freshest water in the world and you get used to the smell or at least the Northern Icelanders say they did.
Experiencing Iceland is letting go and allowing her to wrap you in her stark and mysterious cloak. She’ll show you a new shade of herself in the blink of an eye. But to really see it, I again, encourage you to get off the Ring Road.
As for where to stay in this area? Stay either in Mytvan on the lake at Hotel Gigur or in Aldeyjarfoss. For me, Hotel Gigur right on Lake Mytvan was just amazing. I loved the hotel. I loved the people. The burger was probably one of the best I’ve ever had and so I ate it at every meal and, of course, the central location is great for exploring the entire area. I recommend you spend 3 or 4 days using Hotel Gigur as your base to explore the entire area.
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