I feel like I'm never going to out-do this adventure. I feel like this is why I was born to explore. Exploring a glacier is not something you get to do everyday. It's not something a lot of people get to do at all. How often do you hear someone say "Yesterday I went hiking on a glacier"? After exploring the south of Iceland, we went east.
This was the busiest part of our journey. I had a hiking guide waiting for me at 1.30pm at Jökulsárlón Glacier beach and we had left Vìk at 8am so we basically had half the day to visit the tourist locations. Without sightseeing, it would take 3.5 hours to make it to Jökulsárlón so we were pushed for time.
On the way, we passed Kirkjubäjarklaustur which has an impressively large lava field. The lava erupted from a volcano some years ago but it has moss growing on it, which looks and feels like green carpet. We stopped here to watch the sunrise.
Afer sunrise, we made our way to Fjorarogljufur canyon. It was icy getting to the top of the canyon but the views were worth all the falls. It seems tourists don't he know about this place because we were the only ones there.
As we headed off, a few miles ahead we started to see glaciers at a distance. They are blue and stand firmly between mountains. For those who don't know, glaciers are made up of fallen snow that, over hundreds of years, compresses into large, thickened ice masses. Glaciers form when snow remains in one location long enough to transform into ice. Glaciers are divided into two groups - Alpine glaciers, which form on mountainsides and move downward through valleys, and Continental ice sheets, which spread out and cover larger areas. Iceland has alpine glaciers. Glacial ice is a different color from regular ice. It is blue because the dense ice of the glacier absorbs every other color of the spectrum except blue - so blue is what we see!
The first glacier was Svinafellsjokull glacier which is located near Skatafell National Park. It is an outlet of the larger glacier Vatnajokull National Park. You can climb the glacier with a guide or if you have experience. When you first approach a glacier, the first thing that hits you is the colour then its size. You start to feel the power of nature and just how small you are in relation to everything else around you.
The next glacier along is Fjallsárlón, and it was so beautiful! It is just so awe-inspiring when you approach this lagoon for the very first time. On the lagoon, you can get up close the icebergs and glacier. The photos below demonstrates how big the icebergs that break away from the glacier can be.
We arrived at Jökulsárlón Lake and had enough time to go down the beach on the right side of Route 1. This beach is amazing! It has lots of icebergs which have washed up onto the beach.
The beach is black and fine, just like the one at Vìk. Black beaches are composed of volcanic minerals and lava fragments. I felt that this beach was the true meaning behind Iceland's nickname "Land of Ice and Fire". Fire has created the black beach. And ice is now forming on the beach. Stunning! It also later occurred to me that this place would be perfect for waiting on the northern lights.
I met Glacier Trips at the only cafe near the beach. My guide was blonde, blue eyes, good looking with a very good sense of humour. Typical Icelandic! They have some good genes. Anyway he led me to his 4x4 truck. It was a monster truck. Not your average 4x4 at all. The type of truck you see on an American truck show trampling on other cars. Anyway we set off at 2pm and the guide started to explain about glaciers. I had so many questions. How do they form? Why are they blue? Where was Game of Thrones filmed? Has he met Jon Snow? How are crystal ice caves formed? What training did he have to undergo? Could he save me if I fell into a hole? He answered all my questions.
Once we we arrived in the national park, we took a boat ride to the Game of Thrones location, where "white walkers" come from.
You have to be so careful when you walk on glaciers because some areas are brittle and you can fall in or trip and hurt yourself. Although you don't need a guide into the national park and it is all free for you, you still need a guide for your safety. Attempting to climb a glacier on your own is stupid. My guide told me about a German couple who were skilled climbers who attempted to walk up a glacier on their own. Their bodies have still not been found.
We took a boat back to the truck and continued on our journey to the ice caves. It is a bumpy ride and I'd found it difficult to see how anyone would attempt to make it to the ice caves with a normal 4x4. 30 minutes later, we finally arrived at a glacier outlet where there were a few other trucks parked.
My guide started to explain more about ice caves and their evolution, as we climbed and walked onto the glacier. At this point, the sun was starting to get lower, readying to set.
Some glacier caves are formed by geothermal heat from volcanic vents or hotsprings beneath the ice. Most are formed by water running through or under the glacier. The water often originates on the glacier’s surface and melts the ice. The black crystal caves are made up of ice and lava, whilst the blue caves are from the compacted snow.
The caves are phenomenal! Keen photographers would love how lights hits the corners and curves of the caves. I was on Cloud 9! This is why I visited Iceland. This is what I wanted to see. This is the adventure I wanted to have. And this is the feeling I wanted to feel. To feel well-travelled!