day 9: jökulsárlón glacier lagoon

….on the road again….remember that song by country singer willie nelson? well, talk about an eventful road trip on this, the ninth day of our iceland ‘jaunt’.

after our icy hike at skaftafell, we wiped ourselves dry and hit the no.1 highway yet again to our next destination; the jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

skaftafell national park fell behind us as the snow never ceased to keep falling. sleep threatened to cast us all under her spell once again as the wheels of our old 80s dodge tour van trudged on through the icy no.1 road.

- our cool retro dodge tour van -

– our cool retro dodge tour van -

this went on for about half an hour and then there it was, slipping quietly into view – jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in all its glory.

- jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is a spectacular tourist attraction -

– jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is a spectacular tourist attraction -

i tried to get my first glimpse of the lagoon by pressing my face closer to the misty windows and when i did see it, i was again lost for words.

i wasn’t the only one.

excited exclamations of ‘oohs, aaahs and wows’ slipped out, in turns, from the rest of the group.

fascination glazed the faces of our group as the the rest of the lagoon came into full view.

our van turned left into what was probably the main entrance to the lagoon the day before but was now smothered in snow. seconds later, we came to a full stop just by the lagoon’s edge.

the spanish couple behind me, who hadn’t said very much the whole trip, due to their weak english, i suppose, were suddenly filled with so much energy as they whipped out a coolant filled with waffle sandwiches and other lunch treats.

my friend and i ate a bit of the picnic grub before we decided we needed something other than waffle sandwiches to warm us up, so we walked into the rest-stop diner and ordered a bowl of soup each.

as we were settling down at one of the diner tables, we were delightfully surprised by the appearance of ratna, our south coast guide from two days before. apparently he was bringing a group in from reykjavik to the lagoon.

“wow!” i said “that must’ve been quite a drive seeing how the roads are all messed up today.”

“yes,” he replied. “it’ll probably take us about 3 to 4 hours to head back to reykjavik but you get a different view of the lagoon this time of year, so why not?” he chuckled lightly.

i nodded my head in agreement, suddenly realising that we had quite a drive ourselves back to vik. ‘just as long as we make it back in one piece and before dark,’ i thought.

the lagoon was, of course, not all iced up, thank goodness, so i was able to get some pictures of the place. my hybrid DSLR, the NEX had once again juiced out on me at the hike so everything you see here is courtesy of my mobile camera. forgive the crappy pictures, guys.

- jökulsárlón glacier lagoon; view from the left. -

– jökulsárlón glacier lagoon; view from the left. -

jökulsárlón is a large glacial lagoon on iceland’s southeast coast that stems down from europe’s largest glacier, vatnajökull (see map at end of post). the vatnajökull used to huddle the icelandic coast, with big chunks of icebergs breaking off from it and rolling out to sea. but this glacier has been receding inland for quite awhile now, hence why the lagoon was formed and why icebergs can now literally be seen floating on it to get to the coast. outside of the poles, there is no where else that one can experience such a landscape. this is why it’s considered a natural wonder of iceland, drawing visitors from all over the world, all year round.

- jökulsárlón glacier lagoon; view of a bridge. -

– jökulsárlón glacier lagoon; view of a no.1 road bridge. -

this place has also had the honour of being a set for major hollywood blockbusters and music videos, including the first installment of christopher nolan’s batman trilogy, “batman begins”. being a huge batman/dark knight fan, it was definitely a plus point for me being able to visit the site. :)

- jökulsárlón glacier lagoon's pretty snow-covered floating icebergs -

– jökulsárlón glacier lagoon’s pretty snow-covered floating icebergs -

boat tours are available at jökulsárlón when the weather permits and if you’re one of those really psyched to get into the water, there are some diving opportunities. just ask. of course, you’re welcome to dive into the lagoon during the winter – just make sure you have a handy hypothermia-treatment tank on the ready nearby. :)

- jökulsárlón glacier lagoon has a small dock for visitors to take pictures -

– jökulsárlón glacier lagoon has a small dock for visitors to take pictures -

speaking of boat rides, we were supposed to take one ourselves but unfortunately, surprise, surprise! due to the weather conditions, we were unable to do the trip. :(

but our guide more than made up for it when he took us opposite the lagoon, across the no.1 point of the island that meets the atlantic to witness the last part of a glacier’s journey into the sea. the black sand beach is where you can experience the incredible phenomenon of being so close to beached and floating icebergs. check out the pictures below. simply unbelievable, eh?

- watching icebergs in the distance -

– watching icebergs in the distance -

- final stage of the journey for the icebergs that have broken off the breiðamerkurjökull glacier -

– milky white and blueish icebergs floating on the waters of the atlantic ocean -

some of these icebergs are milky white, while others give off a bright blue hue, which is due to the interplay of sunlight and the ice crystals within it. i wish i could’ve stayed up there all day just staring into those icebergs had it not been for the cold. i mean, how many times in one’s life do you get to see and touch a part of a gi-normous glacier eh?

- i just had to take a picture of myself in this surreal, out-of-this-world place -

– i just had to take a picture of myself in this surreal, out-of-this-world place -

whatever it is, it was just surreal standing there, watching icebergs all over the place. too bad i didn’t bring a glass and a mixer. i could’ve concocted myself a little drinky, on the rocks, of course! haha! (c’mon you must’ve seen that coming!)

- final stage of the journey for the icebergs that have broken off the breiðamerkurjökull glacier -

– final stage of the journey for the icebergs that have broken off the breiðamerkurjökull glacier -

all in all, the group spent a good half an hour taking in all the sights and sounds of this beach before we realised that time was catching up on us. sad to say, we had to bid a fond farewell to this place. i knew i didn’t want to leave so soon.

- beached and floating icebergs make this seem like some location in outer space -

– beached and floating icebergs make this seem like some location in outer space -

i then collected a few volcanic rocks from the beach as a memento of my visit before heading back to our van for the journey back to vik…

for more unbelievable photos of jökulsárlón, head here.

here’s how you can get there:
just get on the no.1 from reykjavik and head east. jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is between the skaftafell national park and the harbour town of hofn.
destination A: skaftafell national park (which has been a part of the vatnajökull national park since its establishment in 2008)
destination B: jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
destination C: town of hofn

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