Originally, Kyle and I planned to drive from Höfn to Hallormsstadur; however, we decided last minute to alter our route. Our new goal was to reach Myvatn by sunset. We made this decision due to three things:
1- Kyle and I were nervous about our lack of experience driving a Manual car in the mountainous landscape of the East Fjords.
2- Volcano Bárðarbunga was erupting. Kyle and I had been keeping close eye on the reports regarding the safety of traveling throughout Northeast Iceland. Since there was a chance (small) that Bárðarbunga may cause a larger eruption, there was potential for a jökulhlaup (icelandic for to describe a sudden and threatening release of glacial melt off) or flash flood. It was believed that Jökulsá á Fjöllum would flood rapidly. According to the reports, the possibility of such a event was low. We decided to high-tail it to Myvatn before the reports had a chance to change.
3- Also, we wanted to spend two full days in Myvatn and didn’t want to compromise any other plans. (We ended up staying only one night though… You will find out why by reading on.)
We set out early on our 5 hour journey.
The first hour was intensely beautiful and we were virtually alone for hours.
We just saw this sweet horse.
We took the Ring Road (Route 1) all the way to Egilsstaðir.
There was a small section of rough dirt road when the highway jetted inland. This patch of road included a semi-steep mountain pass. Kyle and I were not anticipating this type of behind-the-wheel action, so at the time it was stressful. But looking back, this was nothing compare to some of the mountain passes out here in the Pacific Northwest.
We reached Egilsstaðir starving and decided to have some delicious hamburgers from the N1 (gas station) restaurant. In Iceland, many of the gas stations had sit down restaurants. I believe many Americans would shy away from food served at a gas station; however, this option is a wonderful dining choice while you are on the road in Iceland — sometimes your only option.
The drive from Egilsstaðir to Myvatn was unworldly.
It look like we were driving on the moon. We did not see a single car on the road. This stretch of road was one of my favorite!
We climbed to such altitudes that our ears kept popping.
Finally, we reached Myvatn! Our first stop was Námafjall geothermal area. When we step out of the car, we were instantly hit by the intense smell as well as swarms of midges. Midges are small, extremely annoying flies. The swarm of these flies were so intense, Kyle and I immediately jump back in our car and drove to the nearest (and only) store to buy nets to go over our heads.
Myvatn means “lake of midges.” These little pests are seasonal and all the reading I did before our trip suggested that we would not be their during there hatch. However, we were told they hatched at an unusual time this season. Bummer! But Kyle and I were determined to make the most of Myvatn – with our head nets.
Since it was getting dark, Kyle and I decided to find a place to camp for the night. We ended up camping at the Hlid Campground. The facilities had clean shower (communal) and bathrooms, which we much appreciated after a long day in the car and after being bombarded by the midges.
The midges are what drive us out of Myvatn the next evening.