Another surreal place waiting for you in the north-eastern Iceland, right next to the lake Myvatn, is Hverfjall - the volcano with one of the best preserved crater in the world. Although after climbing the Mt. Pico, this one, with its 400 meters, looked like just a tiny hill to me, the feeling of hiking around this perfect crater for almost an hour (approximately one kilometre in diameter) was still an exciting experience.
Although at first this volcano may look like just a stretch painted in many shades of grey, soon after you will be admiring it, while wondering how something so simple can be so beautiful.
I suggest visiting Hverfjall as a part of your Diamond circle tour, a tourist route that is a northern response to the famous Golden Circle, including the canyon Ásbyrgi, the mighty Dettifoss Waterfall and the Mývatn lake that I already wrote about. Unlike along the Golden Circle, here you will find far less tourists which helps you feel like you are on another planet while hiking up the volcano. There are plenty of agencies offering this tour, but the best is to do it in your own (rented) car. As everywhere in Iceland, driving feels great, the roads are almost completely empty and you can stop and take photos every time you see something interesting.
Our hike started next to a supermarket in the village of Reykjahlid. It's where you will find a Tourist information Center and make sure you will be taking the right way. There are only two official paths to go up, while all the other routes are strictly prohibited, because the area is protected. For a more challenging way up take the path that is found at Dimmuborgir, an area full of dramatic lava structures. Get ready for a short walk to the base, followed with the steep hike to the top. If you have been skipping the gym these days, there is another, easier path. I saw a family with a small children doing this one, so everyone should be capable of doing it. This one starts next to the visitor’s parking area.
All the efforts pay off once you find yourself on the edge of a perfectly symmetric, 140 meters deep crater. If you are lucky with the weather (this is difficult to plan while traveling around Iceland), you will be rewarded with a beautiful view over Lake Myvatn once on the top. Make sure you are prepared for some strong winds uphill, and remember the Icelandic saying:"there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing". Good hiking shoes are also essential, no matter which way up you decide to take.
Even if this was just a small effort, you deserve to relax after it. Remember you are in Iceland, there are plenty of thermal springs and natural swimming pools. Check out some of my favourite hot pools and springs, or drop by the closest one, the Myvatn Nature Baths.
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