Posted by: travelrat | September 10, 2019


Hverir 2

Namaskard: 22nd June 2019

A short bus ride took us to Namaskard. an extensive field of steam vents on the slopes of a mountain called Namasfjall. It’s a surreal, desolate ‘other-worldly’ sort of location; someone said some episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’ were filmed here. The first thing we noticed was the smell; as we got off the bus, half our party wore accusing expressions; the other half wore ‘It wasn’t me!!!’ expressions. I recognised the characteristic ‘rotten egg ‘ aroma of a volcanic fumarole … I’ve smelled it before, on Nea Kamini, Santorini’s volcano. The ‘rotten egg’ smell of the stink-bombs of youth (do they still have them?) … which the scientists call hydrogen sulphide.

A fumarole is a vent in the surface of the earth from which volcanic gases and steam issue. The steam comes from underground water, heated by magma lying relatively close to the surface. In Iceland, in common with other countries where this kind of geothermal activity is common, the power is often harnessed, as a source of domestic heating and hot water; it’s even sometimes used to generate electricity,

I remembered the words of a guide on Santorini, who said the existence of a fumarole is not necessarily an indicator of an upcoming eruption. She said:

‘If it was, the nearest person to our boat would be the second person into it!’

If this was Britain, they would have the area fenced off, a Visitor Centre set up and charge a tenner a throw to get in. But, here, there’s just a rudimentary car park and an information board … and tape around the fumaroles and pools of boiling mud … which you go beyond at your peril.



  1. It wouldn’t need the smell to persuade me to stay well away from that mud.

    • The danger areas are taped off. I didn’t see any rangers or anything around to enforce the restrictions … but I’d guess they’re unnecessary, because everyone seemed to be keeping a respectable distance away.

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