Kerið: A Volcanic Crater Lake in South Iceland

iceland tourism private land

Kerið is a volcanic caldera in the Grímsnes volcano system in southern Iceland, formed as a result of an inward collapse of a volcano about 6,500 years ago. The caldera is about 270 m [886 ft] long and 170 m [558 ft] wide, with a depth of 55 m [180 ft]. Its lake’s depth varies between 7-14 m [23-46 ft]. Kerið is known for its visually attractive palette. The lake has a distinct teal colour due to the soil’s minerals. Its surrounding hills are composed of low bushes, moss and red lava; the red colour is due to the oxidation of the magma’s iron (hematite). 

Visiting Kerið

Kerið is located on a private property owned and managed by Arctic Adventures. As of 2024, the entry fee is ISK 450 [$3.25, €3], and it is open all year. Swimming or drinking the water is not allowed. It is one of the destinations on the famous Golden Circle route, which includes stops such as Gullfoss waterfall, Haukadalur geothermal area and Þingvellir National Park. 

It is easily to get to if you are on a self-drive tour and it is also a featured stop in many of the best Golden Circle Tours. Below you will find a list of recommended Golden Circle Tours with a stop at Kerið:

How to get to Kerið

Via Route 1 and Route 35, Kerið is a 67 km [42 mi] drive from Reykjavík city centre. From the capital, drive south on Route 1 for about 55 km [34 mi] before turning left on Route 35 towards Laugarvatn lake. Drive for about 13 km [8 mi], and you will see the parking area on your right. Kerið is right by the parking lot, so hiking is not required; however, there is a 1.4 km [0.9 mi] trail around the caldera for added vantage points.

Climate and weather conditions

Kerið is accessable all year round. Overall, Kerið experiences relatively cool temperatures throughout the year, with precipitation occurring in all seasons. Visitors should be prepared for variable weather conditions and dress accordingly, especially if visiting during the colder months.

For photography, the best times to visit Kerið will differ by season:

  • Summer (June-August): Early morning or late evening during the golden hour for soft, warm light.

  • Spring (April-May): Aim for golden hours to highlight the thawing landscape and contrasting colors.

  • Autumn (September-October): Early morning or late evening for warm foliage tones, with midday clear days offering crisp light.

  • Winter (November-March): Daylight hours, especially late morning to mid-afternoon on clear days, for stark contrasts between snow and volcanic rock.

Remember, Iceland’s weather is variable, so stay flexible and consider how light affects your composition.

In summary, Kerið is a scenic volcanic crater lake, ideally located on the Golden Circle Route. It is very easy to access, it’s photogenic and suitable for kids, seniors and anyone in between.

Most Fishing Permits for Summer Sold Out

salmon fishing iceland

Fishing permits for the majority of Iceland’s salmon rivers have already been sold out, according to Jón Helgi Björnsson, chairperson of the Federation of Icelandic River Owners (Landsamband Veiðifélaga).

In a statement to RÚV, Jón Helgi said that despite a difficult economic situation domestically and abroad, it’s been a very good year for fishing permits, with many of the best rivers already being sold out.

However, Jón Helgi noted that despite healthy sales of fishing permits in the last years, the popular outdoor sport has seen a slight decline recently. “The best fishing is probably in East Iceland,” Jón Helgi stated, “but there were a lot of small salmon there last year. I think we can expect a small improvement from last year, which was a slow year.”

Jón Helgi also noted that increasingly, people practice fishing for the outdoor experience and the socializing, and less so for the fish. Because of changing trends in fishing, large portions of the annual catch are released back into Icelandic rivers: “This practice is also necessary because these stocks are under a lot of pressure from the environment. It is necessary to treat these stocks responsibly, and in recent years, we have seen some results from our effots.”

It is possible to buy a fishing permit (Veiðikortið) for access to lake fishing in some 36 lakes throughout Iceland. For rivers that run through private land, most notably including Iceland’s salmon rivers, separate permits are required. The first salmon of the year are expected to begin appearing around May 20, with salmon fishing season then starting at the beginning of June.

Collapse of Midge Population Impacts Mývatn Birdlife

The ubiquitous midge is almost completely absent from Mývatn, the pointedly named ‘Midge Lake,’ this year. But while many people might celebrate the scarcity of the thick clouds of blackflies that generally characterize the region, RÚV reports that the population collapse, which happens on a cycle of six to nine years, will have a long-lasting impact on local birdlife.

In a normal season, there are as many as 100,000 hatchlings around Mývatn, says Árni Einarsson, director of the Mývatn Research Station. But this year, there are just under 1,000.

Mývatn, photographed by Bernello, CC 3.0

Midges are a vital food source for birds around the lake, but there are almost none now, Árni reports. As a direct result, “we’re not seeing any chicks on the lake,” he explained. “There are 20,000 pairs of ducks, but very few are raising any young. They’ve largely neglected their nests and stopped laying. Have abandoned their eggs, left them behind in the nests. And so those chicks that do hatch only live a few days.”

Árni estimates that the midge population has decreased by ten thousandfold this year. The drastic drop in midges can be attributed to fluctuations in Mývatn wherein midges devour all their food sources at the bottom of the lake. “The food on the lake bed runs out and then the midge population collapses and then the fish come and finish off whatever remains of them […] and there are no midges left.”

Árni says this happens every seven to nine years—it’s now been about eight since the last time the midge population collapsed. As a result, the bird population will be much smaller for the next two to three years. “This makes a dent in the stock,” he concluded. “It doesn’t renew itself.”

Scientists Propose New Theory Of How Marimo is Formed

Scientists researching the ecosystem of Lake Mývatn in North Iceland may have finally answered the longstanding question of how Icelandic marimo, or lake balls—are formed, RÚV reports.

Marimo are perfectly round spheres measuring 10 – 15 cm across and are, as National Geographic explains, composed of an algae species that is actually quite widespread in the Northern hemisphere: Aegagropila linnaei. But the spherical form of this algae is extremely rare and only found in a few places: Lake Akan in Japan, Lake Svityaz in Ukraine, and Lake Mývatn in Iceland.

Although Mývatn’s marimo were designated a protected species in Iceland in 2006, they almost entirely disappeared from the lake in 2013. It’s thought that an excess of cyanobacteria in the lake contributed to the marimo’s decline: photosynthetic cyanobacteria obscure the surface of the water and prevent sunlight from reaching the lakebed where marimo are formed. According to Árni Einarsson, the director of the Nature Research Institute at Mývatn (Ramý), cyanobacteria are a natural part of the Mývatn ecosystem, but pollution in the lake caused an unnatural increase that then had a trickle-down effect on species like marimo.

Despite their decline, however, a small number of Mývatn’s marimo have endured. For reasons that scientists cannot entirely explain, there is less cyanobacteria in the lake this summer and the water is unusually clear—clearer, in fact, than it has been since the 80s. As such, researchers have spent the season investigating, among other things, the necessary conditions for marimo formation. This has been something of a mystery up until now.

Árni says that the scientists now think that marimo can only form in shallow and rather turbulent water. They think they begin to grow on rocks and crags on the shallow bottom of the lake, like moss. Then, as they get larger, they are ripped from their perches by waves and agitation and sent rolling freely through the water. It’s still unknown if this explanation can be applied to the large marimo that once proliferated on the Mývatn lakebed, but it is currently the scientists’ best hypothesis.

Efforts have been made to reduce the amount of cyanobacteria in the lake and hopefully, this will mean that less of it will obscure the surface of the lake in the future.

Locals to Name New Lake

A campaign has begun to find a name for a new lake formed by a recent landslide in West Iceland, RÚVreports. The landslide, which occurred on July 7 on Fagraskógarfjall mountain in Hítardalur, is thought to be the largest in Icelandic history. The event flooded Hitará river, causing a lake to be formed one side of it – and the lake is here to stay.

The Icelandic Place Name Committee (Örnefnanefnd) and Borgarbyggð municipal council are working together to find a name for the new lake – as well as the landslide that caused it. Gunnlaugur Júlíusson, director of Borgarbyggð council, says the process began by inviting landowners in the area to submit suggestions. The suggested names are then sent to the Place Name Committee, which returns them to council with their comments. It’s he council which has the final say in naming the two new features of the local landscape.