Finally, as we reached the southern coast, with Vatnajökull lurking above us, we got to experience ice in Iceland.
The day before, we had cruised around from Dettifoss on the northern side of Vatnajökull, driving through the eastern fjords to the southern edge of this same mighty glacier, before overnighting in Höfn. I neglected to take any photographs of our dinner we had at the Höfn Hotel, as I had anywhere else for that matter. It would seem that my food blogging skills are null and void, so you will have to take my word for it. All the hype you read about the lobsters (more like langoustines, if you ask me) from this part of the world is absolutely spot on – save for the nomenclature. It might be that you have to break the budget somewhat, but a plateful of langoustines washed down with a cold draught beer was the culinary highlight of the holiday. That’s not to say that the oven-baked Ocean Perch the night before wasn’t delicate and juicy, nor the rack of lamb the night before that wasn’t succulent beyond imagination – and the salmon that first night? WOW!
Ok, before I go and start drooling – let’s carry on, shall we?
I’m currently fixated on blue. From the crystal blues at Geysir’s hot-springs and the varying shades of aqua marine of the sea at Tsitsikamma (ok, it’s not Iceland – but it is blue. Don’t you get it already?), now I get to feast my eyes on the frosty, glacial blues of icebergs floating mere feet from the shores of Jökulsárlon.
Ice sculptures of all shapes and sizes litter this vast lake before tumbling out to the sea beyond. Here’s a couple that I spotted – what do you see?
Some seem more compact, made of smaller crystals – others have large bubbles of air estimated to be anywhere up to 10,000 years old.
Some icebergs are pure snow and ice; others striped with layers of ash from past volcanic eruptions.
The morning started out cold, yet still; drizzling, yet atmospheric.
If you are lucky, you can see seals playing in the currents as the lagoon empties out to sea. We saw some, but not for long enough. The Arctic Terns were only slightly more obliging.
The black gravelly beach is also worth a visit. Smaller icebergs wash up on shore, allowing you a closer look.
I wasn’t the only one with my nose pressed up against the icebergs, looking for cool bubble shots, by the way ;)
As we were about to carry on our journey westwards towards Vik, the weather dramatically cleared. Now, we were able to see Vatnajokull’s ice giants marching down the slopes from the hills above.
It is a magical place, where I took over 200 photographs in a few short hours. If we had stayed longer, I’m sure I would have taken several hundred more. It was a very popular place to visit – as I am sure you will all understand why: it is a stunning location – but the truth of the matter is that it won’t be around for ever.
Apparently, the marching giants reached the mouth of the lagoon (not that it would have been much of a lagoon, I suppose) only 70 years ago. In just a few decades, the glacier has receded dramatically. Who knows how long it will last?