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Kleifarvatn is the largest lake on the Reykjanes Peninsula close to the geothermal mud pools at Seltún. The lake used to be around 10 km2 but in the aftermath of an earthquake in 2000 the water level it shrunk to around 8 km2. The visible surface drainage exposed a few boxes which were later identified as cold war era spy equipment and Icelandic author Arnaldur Indriðason used this event as inspiration for one of his crime novels. The lake has long been shrouded in some mystery, it is pretty deep, 97m (318 feet) maximum depth and neither the water supply nor the outlet is visible, even after it became known as “the draining lake”.

Volcanic beach on Lake Kleifarvatn, western Iceland. Beautiful landscape with mountains. Reykjanesfolkvangur Peninsula
Volcanic beach on Lake Kleifarvatn, western Iceland. Beautiful landscape with mountains. Reykjanesfolkvangur Peninsula

Close to the lake there is the geothermal area Seltún and since there is a lot of geothermal activity in the area there are numerous hot springs here and mud pots bubbling away. In the many lava fields which stretch out on the Reykjanes Peninsula, although there has not been an eruption here for 700 years, there are various geothermal fields. The Blue Lagoon water supply is geothermal earth-sea which produces silica mud known to have restorative properties for human skin. All visitors to Iceland should consider visiting The Blue Lagoon and Kleifarvatn is only 30 minutes drive from there. Keflavik International Airport is also close to the Bridge Between Continents and out here on the peninsula there are many good spots to wait for the northern lights should they appear on your chosen winter night in Iceland.

Kleifarvatn has arctic char thriving in it which was released in the 60´s and has done quite well making the lake a destination for fishermen. Divers also come here to snorkel in the lake exploring the volcanic bottom. 

Kleifarvatn is a short drive from Reykjavík and offers lovely little piece of amazing landscape which despite being so close to the city makes you feel you are somewhere out in the wilderness. With a little bit of imagination it is easy to start your own adventure here and wait for the ripples on the water to become the head of some prehistoric monster rising once again from a deep slumber, or wonder from behind which mountain the orc hordes will come running to attack the monster. Or maybe just take a moment and find yourself stranded on a different planet waiting for the next spaceship to break the clouds wondering whether the alien crew will be friendly enough to give you a ride back to the nearest space station.

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