I am up before dawn and packing my bags. Surprisingly, it was just after 9 am and I had beaten the sun up. I double checked my hostel room and headed upstairs for breakfast. I had some of my favorite local Icelandic yogurt while I did a quick weather check. The weather report was clear but I had learned over the last six days that the weather could change in an instant. I walked out of my hostel and into the bitter Icelandic cold. The sky was just starting to get light as I gassed up my car for the next stage of my Icelandic Winter Road Trip. I had a little over two hours drive ahead to get to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
My drive from Vik to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon was uneventful unless you count getting to see some reindeer along the roadside. I enjoyed my drive along the southern coast of Iceland. The grass might have been brown but it didn’t dimension the landscapes of Iceland.
I just before noon I got my first view of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. As the name suggests it is a Lagoon that is full of large chunks of ice (aka icebergs) that has broken off from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier.
The Glacier Lagoon hasn’t always been a fixture in Iceland. Between the 1600’s and early 1900’s, the site of the lagoon was covered by the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. As it started to melt, it left behind a carved out area that would become Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. The lagoon was officially formed in 1934 and is thought to be the deepest lake in Iceland.
Since 1975, the lake has been expanding. Currently, it is 18 sq km and is the lowest point in Iceland. I stop to admire the western side of the lagoon before driving across the small river that connects the lagoon to the North Atlantic. Route 1 has a specially designed bridge that goes over the small river. The Glacial River Bridge is designed with a coffer dam that prevents icebergs that float down the river and into the sea from hitting the bridge pillars.
I stopped at the small tourist stop on the eastern side of the Glacial River Bridge. The gift shop has a small café and is a nice place to have a warm cup of tea after a couple of hours walking along the shores of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. I spent time on the shores of the lagoon watching all the clear blue icebergs float around the lagoon.
I had hoped to take a boat tour of the lake but apparently that was an unrealistic activity. It was the warmest day I had had in Iceland. It was 8C. I had to settle for just walking along the shoreline and watching the icebergs floating around. I kept an eye on the lake for movement. It isn’t unheard of to see whales, dolphins or seals in the lake. The marine mammals will chase fish into the lagoon to trap them. I didn’t see anything.
I walked across route one on to the beach. The black sand beach is covered with small pieces of ice that had broken off the iceberg and carried back to shore. I am distracted taking pictures and had turned my back to the north Atlantic. Needless to say, I found out just how cold the water was when a small wave came ashore. My pants are wet below the knee.
The next day I drove back to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. I was hoping to find space for one of the Ice Cave tours. I got to the lagoon rather early so I could ensure I was the first person to talk to the guide when he showed up. While I waited for the guide, I spent some time by the lagoon shore reading my book, enjoying a warm cup of tea, and glancing up at the lake regularly.
I am getting to my favorite part of my Clive Clusser book when I notice some movement on the lake. A quick glance to check and see if it is something more interesting than the local birds. I start watching the water and quickly determine I am watching a pair of seals play in the water of the lagoon. I headed down to the beach and watched the seals until the headed back out to the Atlantic.
Have you seen the icebergs of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon? What is your favorite part or are you planning on visiting?