Surreal: Geothermal area Namafjall Hverir

Surreal: Geothermal area Namafjall Hverir

Just a stone’s throw away from the tranquil Lake Myvatn, the door opens to a surreal world. In the Georhermal region of Namafjall Hverir, probably Iceland’s most impressive solfatar field, volcanic activity is at hand.

It bubbles, steams and hisses, a biting smell of sulphur is in the air. Wads of smoke rise hissing from mounds and crevices. Small mud pools shoot out of grey water basins every minute.

Bizarre world: ochre Mars landscape

The sight seems unreal. The ochre desert landscape is reminiscent of the pictures of a Mars expedition. If you didn’t know better, you might think you had landed in the backdrop of a science fiction movie.

High temperature area at Namafjall ridge

Initiator of this bizarre play is the mountain ridge Námafjall. It belongs to the volcanic system of Krafla and is still volcanically active today. At its foot lies Namafjall Hverir, probably Iceland’s most impressive high temperature area. In dazzling colours the area reveals how much activity there is inside our earth.

Volcanic activity: Solfatars, fumaroles and hot mud pots

Three kinds of volcanic phenomena create the feeling that the devil has his fingers in the pie at this place. So-called solfatars (places where among other things water vapour, hydrogen sulphide and elementary sulphur escape), fumaroles (places where volcanic vapours and gases escape) and boiling mud pots (hot iron sulphide broth) interact to make the Hverir boil like hell.

Hiking trails through the area

Proven paths lead visitors past silver sulphur fields, grey mud pools and up the 485-metre-high mountain ridge. Officially, the high temperature area is named Hverarönd. In travel literature this area is often called Namafjall, Namafjall Hverir, or just Hverir.

Export hit sulphur: raw material for gunpowder production

Until the 19th century the sulphur released was mined on the Hevrir and exported as a raw material for the production of gunpowder. Today, the area has another – admittedly much more charming – use as a tourist attraction. Its unique natural landscape is well worth seeing. That is why the geothermal area should be an absolute must see for Icelandic visitors.

Best travel time, directions, tours & accommodations

For Central Europeans, the summer months in Iceland’s northeast are already sensitively cool. Thus, those who do not travel to the region to observe the northern lights should in any case aim for the summer months from May to August. Then, the days are bright for a long time and also the sightseeings are not covered by snow. Due to the cool temperatures, it is also recommended to bring warm clothes for the summer months.

The Namafjall ridge is a good 90 kilometres east of Akureyri and can be reached from there by car in just over an hour. The high temperature area Namafjall Hverir or Hverarönd is located on the east side of the mountain. The area can be reached via the Námaskard pass. It runs along the ring road from Mývatn to Egilsandir. The ochre-coloured desert landscape can already be seen when crossing the top of the pass.

In the Myvátn region there are numerous guesthouses and hotels in all price ranges. Vogar Camp Ground, not far from Hverir, is particularly beautiful. With Daddi’s Pizza there is even a culinary highlight directly on the campsite area. Nevertheless, camping is only recommended for the hard-boiled. The nights in the tent can be quite cool even in the summer months.

About 60 kilometres north of Namafjall lies Europe’s most energetic waterfall, the Dettifoss. Both sights can be ideally combined in a two-day tour on the ring road. Those who do not have so much time on Iceland can also book an organised tour from Akureyri to the so-called Diamond Circle. Besides a visit to Namafjall and Dettifoss, this tour contains further highlights. Among them a side trip to Lake Myvatn, to the Asburgy Gorge as well as to the Vatnajökull National Park. If you want to relax a bit, you will also find numerous, less packed tour alternatives.

Camera tips: Motifs & Equipment

The Hevrir offers a variety of motifs. From exciting pattern structures in the sulphur fields to rising columns of smoke to splashing mud pots. A wide-angle lens (ideal 15 – 28mm) should not be missing within the photo equipment. A telephoto lens with a focal length of about 200 mm is suitable for details of the surface structure.

The most beautiful photos are taken at day times of sunrise or sunset. Then the light is particularly soft and envelops the area in an amazing atmosphere. Due to the width, panoramas can be taken. If you want to freeze the splashing movement of the mud pots, find out here, how it works. Another tip for the absorption of the damps swaths: In backlighting, their structures come into their own particularly well.

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