Námaskarð – Iceland - Atlas Obscura


A sulfuric martian landscape that looks far better than it smells. 


If you’ve ever longed to walk on the barren red terrain of Mars, experiencing Námaskarð will get you close.  

Situated on the north side of Iceland’s Lake Myvatn, this geothermal wonder of hot sulfuric mud springs and steam springs (solfataras and fumaroles if you’re a geology nerd) is otherworldly. Black rivers and bubbling pools of sulfuric mud cut through a landscape that’s rich with colorful minerals and is continuously steaming. 

While picturesque,  one of Námaskarð’s most notable characteristics simply cannot be captured by photography – the smell. Oh, the smell! The eggy stench from the sulphuric mud and steam is pungent and unrelenting. It’s enough to make you woozy if you get too close to a steam vent. There’s a reason why you won’t find vegetation in Námaskarð. Take one deep breath in and you’ll know right away. 

Námaskarð is a magnificent example of how strange and “unearthly” our planet’s natural landscapes can be, and just how pungent they can be as well. 

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