Adding to the charm of Iceland, many land formations such as the Skútustaðagígar Craters have been recognized as the Icelandic gems. When you enter the Mývatn area, the first attraction you will find is the Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters. They are often known as rootless cones or rootless craters as they have no end, as normal craters would usually do. The Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters are called pseudo craters as they are not caused by the actual explosion of volcanos, but are a byproduct of their flowing lava.
This natural phenomenon takes place when piping hot lava flows over cool, wet grounds and pressurizes the earth downwards. This causes steam to be trapped under the weight of the lava, producing extreme pressure. When this pressure becomes too great, steam explosions are triggered, creating depressions in the ground to form these mesmerizing pseudo craters. The Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters were formed during the eruption of Lúdentaborgir and Þrengslaborgir around 2,300 years ago.
Enjoying the Skútustaðagígar Pseudo Craters
On entering the Mývatn area, the first beauty that will catch your eye is this breathtaking row of craters enveloped with low vegetation. You will find marked walking paths through the area, along with a much shorter, circular route on the western end that will take merely 20 – 30 minutes to hike around. You can easily walk around the bowl-like landmasses with this route, or take a hike to reach the top for a magnificent view of the scenic surroundings. The large forms are covered in grass, and sometimes sheep can be seen grazing around. You can walk around the cluster of craters, exploring them one by and one and hiking up the provided staircases if you desire.
The craters themselves make a picturesque haven for photographers and nature enthusiasts, along with the magnificent view from the top. Surrounded by the remaining wetlands of the Lake Mývatn area, these craters are a quaint hotbed for birdwatching. Many species of birds and ducks are found in the nearby waters all year-round, inviting bird watchers and nature lovers from all over the world.
The first pseudo-craters remain accessible in the winter season as well. Though you cannot hike the entire loop of craters, the path and staircase to the top of the first crater are still easy to access and walk on. In fact, the snow-covered craters make an even more tranquil scene than usual. The bowls can be seen laden with snow and the pond is covered in a blanket of white. The view is completely different and loses color, remaining only black and white. This monochrome has a unique view and doesn’t fall short of any movie scene.
A Hub for a Myriad of Species
Along with a fantastic view, the Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters are a great spot for observing various bird species. Waterfowl and other species of water bird are popularly spotted here. The surrounding areas can be explored to find Meadow Pipit, Northern Wheatear, and White Wagtail. Merlin can be found hunting for small songbirds, along with the occasional short-eared owl out for a flight.
The overview of the Mývatn lake also offers an added reward of beautiful birds residing there. A great number of waterbirds can be spotted here, with the common species also found in great numbers. These common species include the Tufted Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, and Whooper Swan. Some rarer species such as the Barrow’s Goldeneye, Harlequin Duck, and Goosander can also be seen around the area. A large number of Red-necked Phalarope can also be observed closer to the shoreline, but only occasionally. Nearly 150 individual species can be enjoyed for the perfect birdwatching experience in this specific part of the lake.
As the site is located just south of the ring road, it is easily accessible and offers complete ease of navigation. You will find a large parking lot next to the road, along with several pathways leading you around.