If you want to feel the heat of Iceland, go to Hverir, a large geothermal field of bubbling mud pools, hissing fumaroles and sticky red soil.
Once here, you’ll soon realise why Iceland is named the Land of Fire and Ice. It’s also the closest you’ll ever get to Mars on Earth. This isn’t the first time I’ve said this about Iceland, I’ve seen a very similar geothermal area in South Iceland called Seltun but Hverir is significantly larger which makes it even more impressive. (I don’t always subscribe to the motto ‘bigger is better’ but on this occasion I do).
You only need to see the large volume of steam emitting from the ground to know this is a high-temperature area and one you should take with caution. But before stepping close enough to feel the heat, it’s likely you’ll be able to smell this place first because it REEKS.
Pretty much the whole country is powered by geothermal energy, i.e. water heated by volcanoes and geothermal springs, so naturally it’s going to contain a lot of sulphur. And sulphur stinks of eggs.
However, call me crazy but I love the smell! I saw a few people covering their noses with the sleeve of their jacket but not me. On the contrary, I relish in filling my lungs with that eggy Icelandic whiff. If I didn’t know any better, I would say the smell has an almost phermonal quality. Just maybe.
Various colours of reds and bright yellows made from sulphur-stained earth can be seen on closer inspection, but what I found truly delicious were all the patterns found in the mud, as some of it thickened and cracked like the top layer of a chocolate brownie, whilst hotter areas bubbled like a pan of gravy over a hot stove.
Fact of the day: In previous centuries sulphur was mined in Iceland to create gun powder.
Tips when travelling to Hverir
- Wear good footwear, preferably boots because the ground can be very muddy and sticky.
- Remember to clean your camera lens afterwards because it’s likely to get steamed up. I didn’t realise this happened to my lens and it affected the rest of my photos for the day.
- Hverir is also known as Namafjall which you might see on road signs.
- Located in the Myvatn area of North Iceland, Hverir is one of several attractions that display the sheer force of Icelandic volcanism in all its tantalizing glory. All within a few minutes drive of each other are the tuff ring volcano of Hverfjall, the weird rock formations of Dimmu Borgir, Viti Crater and Grjótagjá lava cave which you can bathe inside during the winter – in the summer it’s considered a tad too hot so be warned!
Further reading: An Epic Road Trip in Iceland – Travel Itinerary & Tips