Lake Mývatn & Reykjahlíð Iceland: Krafla Crater, Hverir & Grjótagjá Cave

We awaken this morning to an absolutely beautiful arctic summer day in Reykjahlíð in north central Iceland. The sun is bright and lends its gentle warmth to the land. You may recall we just spent the day in Askja yesterday. The F-road was so horrific that we had a soda bottle explode and a cranberry juice container burst in the trailer. Everything in my kitchen utensils bag is covered with sticky stuff, plus all our swim suits smell like rotten eggs from our dip in the Viti Crater. My first order of the day is to clean up everything that I can. Luckily it is such a beautiful day! For some reason this campground has no roof cover over their camper’s kitchen sink in a country that gets plenty of rain.

You may remember that we are all smelly yet this morning from our swim in Askja’s Viti Crater yesterday. The pathetic thing is that when we go to take a shower this morning we discover that the hot water coming out of the faucet stinks like rotten eggs, too. Oh well! No getting away from it, I guess!
We had pulled into the Vogahraun campground at about midnight last night. We tried to  camp on the shores of Lake Mývatn, but the campground was literally so full that we could not find a place to park. It ends up we got a pretty nice spot at this campground just down the road. Last night we had literally just dusted off our belongings, set up our tents and crawled into bed, smelly and exhausted! 

In the background you can see the huge Hverfjall volcanic crater. 

I am cooking up some pancakes for breakfast. I brought along some of the Kodiak protein pancake mix from Costco. The pancakes are yummy and super filling, and just perfect for this trip!

 

We have to take everything out of the trailer to clean it up, because it filled up with volcanic dust from the road to Askja. Now I might reiterate here that I am particularly annoyed at the car rental company that would rent you a trailer, knowing full well that you are going to put your valuable gear into it, that is neither waterproof, or even remotely dustproof! I clean  everything as best as I can. 

Am I having fun cleaning everything? I dunno, you decide!

Across the street from our campground we find this interesting restaurant. Now, to be fair, I had read about this restaurant in the Icelandair magazine on the way here. The restaurant is inside of a barn. Dinner service, at least what we are after, begins at 5 pm. That’s when they start milking, and you can literally drink milk straight from the cow!
You may know that David was raised on a dairy farm and he drank unpasteurized milk his entire childhood. When I was a kid my parents used to buy milk straight from a dairy farm in big five gallon buckets. I remember my mom and dad coming home with the big buckets of milk. We would skim the cream off the top, and sometimes even churn butter. Our kids, on the other hand, have scarcely even seen cows, much less drank their milk fresh from the udder. 
I don’t know if there is another restaurant like this anywhere in the world. Probably not. At least there’s likely none such dining establishments in the United States, where the government has virtually shut down almost all sales of unpasteurized milk.  

We decide that we will just burn up this day in the Mývatn Lake vicinity, which ends up being a good decision. We don’t have to rush anywhere, for once. This evening we will come here for dinner!


David discovers suddenly that the front driver’s side tire is flat! I am sure it took a beating on the road to Askja even though we drove incredibly slowly and carefully! Thank goodness it did not go flat yesterday when we were driving in the highlands at dusk….when we were seeing random beings that weren’t actually there after all…..David has to drive the car off the grass in order to be able to jack it up.

Now there is a real problem. Who can figure out how to get the spare tire off the car…..

Finally Tristan gets wise and pulls out the owner’s manual. 

Okay……so this is how it is done!

This random British man sees that we have a flat tire and he pulls up next to us to help us out. I guess he brought this car from England by ship. He has an interesting set up in the back, with a little homemade table that he folds down off the back door……

The nice thing is that he has some power tools to loan David. 

Luckily I brought this tarp along so my handsome husband doesn’t have to lay in the rocks. 

Ahaaaa….there is the British man’s power tool!

Once the tire is changed and the flat tire is returned to the spare tire’s place, David grabs the hose and sprays down the trailer and car. Gotta get all the volcanic dust out of the trailer before we pile our stuff back in. 

We have a great view of the Hverfjall crater right from our camping spot. I guess you can hike on the edge of this crater. After driving for hours through lava fields yesterday I have about zero interest in hiking on a volcano today. Maybe I will regret the decision later.

 

Finally the trailer is packed. I hang up all the wet laundry on my hooks and the clothesline that I have installed inside the trailer. Here you see Jasmine filling up her water bottle from a large collapsible 4 gallon water jug that I bought from REI. I love this thing! Its super light and compact, and extremely useful on this trip! 

Soon we are on our way for another day of adventure. We spent the entire morning working on cleaning up our gear. It actually feels really goood to take just relax a bit. 

Check out this cool view of the Hverfjall Crater from across Lake Myvatn.


Our first order of business takes us past another cool geothermal electrical plant, the Krafla Power Plant. Iceland is pretty awesome in that almost all their energy comes for renewable sources. We have to drive under the hot water pipes. Since we already toured a power plant on this trip we don’t get a closer look here, other than to say, “been there, done that”.

The views are beautiful!

We park our rig and head on over to check out the other “Viti Crater” at Krafla. Don’t ask me why they have two of them in this country….

 Little sister and brother-in-law. 

This crater boasts of very beautiful blue water, but it is not warm water. I tell Kristoff to stand on this ledge, which makes some of my other family members upset at me. It actually is not really that dangerous a spot, if you ask me, but it generates a lot of excitement. 


We stop at this random outdoor shower when we leave the Krafla area. Yeah, the water is hot. If we hadn’t already showered this morning this would have been a perfect place to do so! 


Just down the road is the Hverir geothermal area with mud pots and steaming rock formations. We get out of the car and walk around for a bit. There’s a lot of tourists here!

Boiling hot mud pots!


I tell you, this is the second time here in Iceland that I get a photo of the sun in a shape of a star! 

While we were looking around at the geothermal marvels about 10 tour buses showed up in the little parking lot. We are boxed in between two buses. It’s really not that fun to back up with a trailer when you are smushed between two buses…..

We stop just to check out the Mývatn Nature Bath. This is a large hot spring pool, which is often touted as a good alternative to the Blue Lagoon that’s located near Reykjavik. This pool looks okay, but not exciting enough for us to drop the cash needed to get in. We are going to go to the Blue Lagoon soon enough, so we opt to save the money. 

We make a stop at the Grjótagjá cave. I had read up a bit on this place, and it sounded like maybe it was a nice little quiet place to visit. Not so….there’s tour buses here, too! There’s so many people stuffed into a little opening trying to see the cave that we head up the hill first, just above the cave. Looks like the earth is splitting in half up here!


One wrong step and you’re down!

Oh no…..help…..he went down!


Finally the tour bus prepares to leave with its 50+ tourists, and we have a chance to check out the lava cave. It’s down here somewhere!


The cave has a beautiful thermal spring inside, but the water temperature is 50 degrees Celsius making it too hot for swimming. Apparently this cave was used for filming some steamy love scenes in the movie Game of Thrones. It is very pretty, but I have to say that my photos did not turn out that great. Next time…..

Check out this cave man!

As we are driving in the little town of Reykjahlíð I find my dream car…..Man.   Oh man…….we should have rented this Sprinter……Wouldn’t have to worry about river crossings with this baby! Of course it would be prohibitively expensive. You could totally live in this beast!

 
Needless to say, there is not really that much to do in this town of 300. We saw most of the sights today that are in the area. Well, honestly, we could spend another day here if we really wanted to do everything, but there’s no time for that. For instance we could rent bikes and cruise around the lake. We spend our last hour looking at displays in the tourist center……yawn…..

It’s dinner time! Let’s go milk them cows……