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Iceland The Globe Travel Guide
© David Williams

Iceland: what to see and do


Page 2.
The glacial lake of Jökulsárlón. Just sit back and watch the ice floes drift slowly towards the sea.
The village of Reykjahlíð sits at the northern shore of Mývatn in northern Iceland.

At Skaftafell National Park, which sits just below Vatnajökull, visitors have a marvellous chance to explore one of these glaciers as its snout is only 1km from the campsite. Above the campsite, signposted walks on the hillside lead over the moorland to viewpoints that are perched high above the glacier. Only 50km farther along the ring road from Skaftafell is the glacial lake of Jökulsárlón. Here, icebergs crack off the edge of the 4km wide Breiðamerkurjökull glacier into the lake and then drift slowly towards the sea. James Bond visited the lake in the film A View to Kill in a submarine, but tourists can take a more leisurely boat trip amongst the icebergs to get a closer look at these cold but starkly beautiful natural sculptures. Snowcat and skiddoo trips are available on nearby Skálafellsjökull, another part of Vatnajökull.

Iceland sits atop the volcanic Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the long chain of mountains that is being formed as the European and American continents move slowly apart. Today, the two halves of the country are separating by about 2cm a year and at Mývatn (a lake in the north-east of the country) visitors can see the effects of the recent eruptions caused by this continental drift. Since 1981, the district around the lake has been slowly rising and falling because of the movements of molten rock deep below the surface. On a number of occasions the ground has opened up along fissures, sending tall fountains of red-hot lava high into the air. Although there have been no eruptions since 1984, the ground is still moving and the hot rocks below the surface are still giving off gases that have a strong sulphurous smell. Near the eruption site are tongues of fresh black lava, large pools of hot bubbling mud and deposits of sulphur. Wisps of vapour rising lazily from the fissures add to the excitement of exploring such a place. The name "Mývatn" means "midge lake" and countless numbers of these insects provide the food for many of the district`s birds. Mývatn is one of Europe`s most important wildfowl breeding areas, and ornithologists come from all over the world to see the lake`s tens of thousands of birds which include Barrow`s goldeneye, harlequin, whooper swan and great northern diver.

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