Glaciers and Lagoons
Day 3, Monday
This was the day I had my Glacier Hike scheduled for. The weather forecast all week until 8 AM THAT day said it would rain heavily all morning and afternoon. I got to the national park at 9 AM for my 10 AM hike and the sky was clear, the sun out and the temperature warm! WARM!! Warm enough for me to want to take my jacket off because I was sweating on the glacier during my hike! I know I shouldn’t get excited for warm weather in May, but if you’ve had a chance to read my previous post about a day of chill and rain, this was nothing short of a miracle. This is just an example of how crazy quick weather changes in Iceland and how unpredictable it can be. Like I mentioned in my previous article, try not to get disappointed with bad weather, because eventually you will have good moments like this. Maybe not specifically during your glacier hike, but at some other time that counts!
My second morning on the ring road started off by heading to the Vatnajökull National Park (Vaht-na-yo-kyut) to do my Glacier Hike! Jökull = Glacier, so that’s another Icelandic word I now know! The national park consists of the Vatnajökull glacier itself, the largest ice cap in Iceland and one of the largest in Europe, and the several glacier-tongues it pours into. Because of the vastness of the ice cap, there are several hiking stops across the park and several tour companies that lead it. I did some research and found the Skaftafell Glacier Hike to be scenic. Interestingly, Skaftafell was its own National park till 2007 when it was absorbed into the Vatnajökull National Park. Or maybe it’s not that interesting, I just decided to throw in a fact to sound smart..……
An actual interesting fact, my tour guide told me they filmed ‘Interstellar’ there and had just wrapped up filming ‘Game of Thrones’ a few weeks earlier! The view really did look like it was from a different strange and beautiful planet.
I opted for a 2-hour basic Glacier Walk ‘blue-ice’ experience with mountain guides for $110, totally worth it! From the outside, all glaciers appear white in color. But on the inside, once the ice is super-compressed without any air bubbles, it appears blue. As you can see from the pictures, there were areas of visible blue-ice. There are tougher hike options and Glacier Climbing options, for the more adventurous. Here’s a detailed account of my experience, things to expect on your hike and all the gear you will need!
The minute I got done with the hike, just as I was backing out of the parking lot, it started to rain and got super-cloudy. Close call!
As the day was dedicated to a glacial experience, the next obvious stop was the Jökulsárlón Galcier Lagoon. A glacier lagoon is basically a pond filled with melted run-off glacier water and huge chunks of ice floating on the water. As the ice if from within the glacier, it’s usually blue. There are tours that take a boat onto the lagoon and float around between the ice. This is only open during the summer as the whole lagoon is frozen over during winter.
I booked the 45-min amphibian boat tour for $40 that was scheduled for 4PM. I got there sooner than expected (around 1:30 maybe) and the weather looked like it would only get worse. So I asked if I could be moved to an earlier tour and got on the 2 PM. Thing about tours is Iceland, they’re very flexible and co-operative – what with the weather, last minute cancellations, re-bookings, etc. Ofc, this is all based on availability!
By the time I was done, it was freezing and windy and raining. I decided to call it a day and checked into my guesthouse for the night. I spent the night at Hofn, which is about 2 hours away from Vatnajökull and is a lot cheaper than Hof. For $69, I picked the Set berg Guesthouse which is basically a farm house surrounded by mountains, springs and goats. The owner was telling me that there were a few geothermal baths in the area to go to, but I decided to catch up on my book and open that wine I picked up at the airport.
Please feel free to ask a question or leave a comment below! If you missed it, here’s my first day of the Ring Road Diaries – Southern Iceland.
Next up: East Fjords and Fishing villages