The Geothermal area Krýsuvík
At Krýsuvík, dramatic red, green, and yellow coloured hills frame an expanse of steaming volcanic vents and boiling hot springs. Only a twenty-five minute drive from the centre of Hafnarfjörður, Krýsuvík is one of the most striking landscapes in Iceland. A well-maintained boardwalk winds through the bubbling and hissing field and information signage explaines the geology of the geothermal area. Strong hikers can climb to the massive steaming vent (solfatara) at the top of the hill for a spectacular view of the ocean, the fields and the lakes.
Beside the mudpots and sulphur deposits are wildly colourful crater lakes. The Grænavatn, Gestsstaðavatn, and Augun lakes are explosion craters formed by volcanic eruptions. Grænavatn Lake, the largest at 46 meters (150 feet) deep glows a deep green, coloured so because of its thermal algae and crystals that absorb the sun. Gestsstaðavatn Lake draws its name from Getsstaðir, a nearby farm, abandoned during the Middle Ages. On either side of the main road are two small adjacent lakes, called Augun (eyes)
Just a few minutes' drive from the surreal landscape of the geothermal area are the stunning Krýsuvíkurberg Cliffs. Here, thousands of sea birds nest in the rugged hillside beside the crashing Atlantic surf. For a peaceful jaunt, hike along the track to the end of the cliffs where it's possible to spot kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills, and other birds as they dive into the sea or frolic with their flock.
CAUTION: The boiling and steaming geothermal vents are dangerous. Do not walk on them or attemt to touch them. Always stay on the designated path. If you are heading into the lava ro mountainous regions, inform someone of your travels and be sure to tell them when you expect to return. There is no bus service to Krýsuvík so a car is required. Also note that some of the road is unpaved.
Kleifarvatn Lake measures around 10 km2 in area, and as such is the largest lake on the Reykjanes peninsula. It is situated between Sveifluháls in the west and Vatnshlíðar in the east. A limited amount of water runs into the lake, and there is no visible surface drainage. The surface water level in the lake changes in pace with the local ground water level, which has varied by almost 4 meters in the space of a few decades. Trout fry were introduced into the lake around 1960, and fish thrives reasonably well in the water. A monster resembling a huge serpent, as large as a whale, has reportedly been sighted in the lake. It generally remains above the surface of the water for two minutes at a time.
For those who wish to explore the area on foot, the Hafnarfjördur Tourist Information Centre now offers a detailed map of the Krýsuvík area, showing hiking and walking routes and describing the local history, geology, folklore, sightseeing attractions and plans for the future development of the site.