Valhalla’s Gateway: Iceland’s Picturesque Inferno

Image by: hkvam via Hottnez

It’s incredible to think that snaps like this are real – not the work of a special effects artist or a genius with acrylics. Yes, the simultaneously serene and geologically seething landscape of Iceland is a reminder that there’s no more sparkling a creative maestro than Mother Nature herself. And nowhere epitomises this more than the geothermal lagoons of the country’s Námaskarð pass.

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Image by: bishop72 via Hottnez

Námaskarð is renowned for its volcanic clusters of bubbling mudpots, or solfataras, as well as its fizzing jets of volcanic gasses and steam, called fumaroles.

Image by: **ANNE via Hottnez

Where water is in short supply in a geothermal hotspot like Iceland, what little aqua vita there is rises to the surface in places where the ground is rich in volcanic ash and clay. Solfataras are born. The sheer size of the boiling mud pools – metres across – is awe-inspiring in itself. Mix in the beauty of the colourful mineral deposits they produce, and the fact that they’re also known as paint pots seems even more appropriate.

Image by: sweden otsi

While you absorb the colours on display here, it’s worth remembering you should also keep some distance. Better to avoid letting the sulphurous fumes get up your nose. Better too to watch your step. Get too close to the mud springs, and the ground around may be liable to crumble. And while the absence of security guards adds to the freedom of the place, it also means there’s no one to fish you out if you land in a simmering spot of bother.

Image by: little frank

The lack of vegetation, hot, turbulent activity, and pervasively sulphurous fog of this magnificent location gave wanderlust-fuelled blog Hotnez the feeling of having arrived at a gateway to hell. But with the flood of incredible hues vying for your attention, an artistic heaven seems just as conceivable.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4