Jökulsárlón

This post may be a bit unfairly named, as we drove almost 300km that day through gorgeous landscapes and beautiful views. Nevertheless the thing that really stood out and had an incredible wow-factor was  the glacial lagoon Jökulsárlón.

The evening before, as so many other evenings before, we had been discussing which route to take, which would be the most scenic one and which the quickest and what would be a good compromise between quick and scenic. (Really the question was usually more of a “how long can we drive before it gets dark”). In this case, it was “How long can we drive if we want to make the last, according to the internet,  ship tour showing of Jökulsárlón”. As some of you that have been around for a while may already know, the internet lies.  We would learn that too.  In this case the internet told us that the last tour would be at half past 4, so we were incredibly eager to get there in time. Or at least my sister was. My mum and I were “just” very eager.

Since we had to travel quite a way from our night in Egilsstadir until reaching Jökulsárlón, we decided to take road 1 all the way and leave early to be there in time. Now in most countries deciding on a road to follow and a time to leave, this would have determined what we would be doing the next day. Not so in iceland, the road 1 simultaneously led along the coast and some 80km further in through the mountains. Both roads were partially untarred and and did not have a huge difference when it came to the distance you needed to cover. This changed when the reception lady in Egilsstadir pointed out, that yes road 1 did take roughly the same time around the coast and through the mountains, but if you took the road through the mountains and turned off road 1 just a few miles before both ends rejoin you could save up to an hour. So we agreed on doing this.
The drive itself was absolutely stunning, it led through the mountains,  sporting some of the greenest fields I have ever seen. The countryside was laced with small and big rivers meandering undisturbed alongside, underneath and away from the road. The same spirit of freedom also applied to the sheep and to some of the bigger rocks that had decided that the street was the perfect place for them to rest or just stand about. Moving was out of the question. Luckily there usually was noone but us and the sheep and some arrangement could be made, in form of us driving around the sheep and the sheeps not moving but signalling friendly interest in what we were doing.
After enjoying the mountains it was time to go back down to the sea and follow the circumvented coastline down to Jökulsárlón. As we had been enjoying the mountains so much we were already rather late in time and so we had to speed up the drive and could no longer stop at each corner we wanted too. All of this because, as you may remember, because the last tour supposedly left at 4:30pm. We should find out that this was entirely untrue and there were ships leaving every 15min until 6pm, but by that time it was too late.  We never quite figured out where that company that “only” left at 4:30 was actually situated, but we felt a bit duped. Especially since we skipped a number of nice stops along the road to get there in time. On the plus side, the trip turned out to be less for 3 people than what the other would’ve charged for one person.

So a little sad about the opportunities missed, but not very much, because how can you be sad with a view like the one above? So we set out to buy our tickets and were told to wait 20 minutes as the next trip had already been booked out. What better thing to do than to start exploring the border of the laguna by foot. Already the view from the shore was stunning. So stunning in fact that we almost missed our boat. When I say boat I really mean amphibious bus-boat. Since the thing picked us up on dry land, drove to the next opening on the laguna and became a boat once the water was high enough. We learned alot about the lagoon, for example that it now spans over 17 square kilometers and that it is expanding so quickly not just because of global warming, but also because salt water is the natural enemy of ice. The real attraction though were the icebergs, they range from completely black to snow white going through every shade of turquoise (a lot of things seem to do that in Iceland.) The way the sun shine has a strong effect on the colors in the lagoon and in that sense we can consider us fortunate to have experienced both clouds and sun while being on the lake!

Even though I thought the lagoon was not going to be topped, I actually just had to take a few steps to realise that I was wrong. After disembarking from the boat, we headed towards the opening of the lagoon towards the ocean and there, you had the finest black sand beach I have ever seen and on this beach were all the icebergs had been washed onto the shore. The added contrast of the ocean water, the black sand and the white spume made the sight of the iceberg almost surreal. No matter if you were looking for small details or a global impression, it was awesome on every level! It can’t be put into words, the entire thing was so unexpected and breathtakingly beautiful, I wouldn’t know where to start. So see for yourself:

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3 comments

  1. Great photos. Jökulsárlón is really stunning. But I didn’t understand which road you drove form Egilstadir? Did you turn off road 1 to road 929 directly before Breiðdalsheiði starts?

  2. Hi,

    it’s good you made me check again. I just noticed that the alternative route I thought to be also road 1 is actually the road 92 and 96 according to google maps. Road 1 does not split up behind Egilsstadir, our maps must have been lying to us… >.>
    I think we took road 939, I guess that’s what you meant? The first 3 pictures were taken on road 939. Plus you cut off almost 60km of windy curvy roads and in my memories road 939, while not tarred, was in good condition.

  3. As an addition: I’m lating in posting my reports though.. The road was in good condition in August. I don’t know how it is now with possible snow and ice.


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