Laxa (Laxá) River

Laxa (Laxá) River

Laxa is a common name for salmon fishing rivers in Iceland. One of the largest and most beautiful rivers to bear the name is the Laxa at Lake Myvatn. On the west corner of the lake, you can draw off the road by the bridge and perhaps spot some fishermen on the river bank. 

This is a great spot for observing harlequin ducks, a species that breeds in Iceland but not elsewhere in Europe. 

The female is brown with a white eye-spot but the male's breeding plumage comes in a stunning palette of colors. These small diving ducks are strong swimmers and quite acrobatic as they frequent the swirling rapids in the river. 

Lava erupted from fissures at Lake Myvatn follows the same course as the Laxa, heading north to Adaldalur valley, where it spreads out on the plain by Skjalfandi Bay.  

The lava forms small islands in the river bed and many of these are fringed with lush stands of angelica. The river twists among the islands, its foaming rapids a contrast to the deep blue of the quieter stretches. 

It is little wonder that the locals got upset when plans were drawn up many years ago to exploit this part of the river for electricity - they showed their disapproval by blowing up the dam!  The power plant was built far downstream and away from the lake.