One of the most notable natural gems in Iceland, Mývatn is approximately a 45 minute drive from Akureyri in the north of Iceland. Quite near the Krafla volcano, Mývatn is a shallow lake in an active volcanic area. This 37 sq km (23 sq miles) eutrophic lake has an average depth of only around 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) and is surrounded by wetlands. The lake and the wetlands around it provide an ideal environment for an extensive array of fauna, most notably a collection of breeding ducks, of which there are some fifteen to sixteen varieties. The name of the lake comes from the Icelandic words “my” and “vatn,” which mean “midge” and “lake” respectively. Most likely this is because of the extensive algae that provide the right breeding conditions for midge and blackfly larvae, which attracts a large and varied bird population.
Visitors should not be bored at Mývatn. There is plenty to do in the way of hiking, fishing, sightseeing, and exploring the stunning natural phenomena in the area, which includes an active volcano, lava flows, hot springs, interesting geological formations, and craters. Located in the rain shadow of the Vatnajökull icecap, Mývatn is the fourth biggest natural lake and driest area in Iceland. The nearby river Laxá has a rich supply of Atlantic salmon and brown trout, making it a popular fishing spot. The lake has two hamlets – Reykjahlid and Skutustadir – both of which offer a good selection of accommodation, restaurants, grocery stores, swimming pools, petrol stations, and several outlets for renting cars and bicycles.
This is an extremely volcanic area and is protected as a nature reserve. The lake was formed 2300 years ago by a significant basaltic lava eruption, and the landscape around it is dominated by volcanic landforms, such as psuedocraters and lava pillars. Between the period 1975 and 1984 there were nine eruptions here. It is an area of great beauty and extreme contrasts.