What is wild is the contrasting scenery we see in the course of a mid-day drive during Day Two of our visit to Myvatn and the area just beyond it. First, Grjotagja, a steaming underground grotto (once a “hot pot” where locals soaked until shifting streams of magma made it too hot). Then, a black, smoking hillside. After that, we crest a hill and descend into a world of southwestern U.S. reds and browns. and we’re in Hverir, where mud boils and rocks blow off steam.

Myvatn from Kate Rice on Vimeo.

We drive past a surreal geo-thermal power plant complex, walk up the side of a dormant volcano and see a vivid blue pond in its caldera. And then, it’s back to the car for a drive through miles and miles of black lava fields and we’re at Dettifoss, a roaring torrent that is Europe’s largest waterfall (according to Iceland, anyway). A short walk beyond that, and another waterfall: Selfoss. And we hadn’t even finished our day yet! Our timing was perfect; a day or so later, authorities briefly evacuated Dettifoss due to concerns about the eruption of the Bardarbunga volcano!