Published: July 29th 2012July 29th 2012
This was an ocean day, although Vatnajokull was ever present. After a short ride to Oraefi we boarded a tractor pulled hay ride. However, there was no hay on the trailer, and we headed out over a sandy plain that had once been farmland to the offshore landmass of Ingolfshofoi. This is near to where Ingolfur Arnarson, Iceland's first Nordic settler, first made his home. The area is a protected breeding ground for sea birds. Upon crossing the sand we climbed up a sandy hill to the ridge then walked across grass covered rock and stone to cliffs where we observed groups of puffin, the national bird. Along the way we observed skua guarding their nests and young. Skua fiercely guard their own nests but are notorious for robbing other species' nests. I did not see that here but, while on Antarctica I observed Gentoo and Adelie penguin defending their eggs from skua. We slid down the sand hill to meet our tractor; reminiscent of Cape Cod's dunes near Provincetown except this was black volcanic sand. Back by the shore we checked the remains of a sperm whale and a longfin pilot whale. The tractor towed our trailer back across the
sand that had experienced volcanic eruptions in 1362 and 1727; abandoned as farmland after the last eruption.
A short ride took us to Jokulsarlon. Throughout the day we crossed many rivers and streams on "disposable" bridges. With glacial floods a distinct possibility, bridges in this are built sturdily, but with replacement in mind. Jokulsarlon is glacial lagoon where icebergs calve off of the Breioamerkurjokull area of Vatnajokull. After a short wait we boarded a LARC-5, built in Peoria, and took a ride through the lagoon among the small icebergs, bergy bits , and growlers. After the boat ride we walked along the beach where ice passed from the lagoon to the sea, many pieces stranding on the bar and breaking up before heading out.
Heading northeast along the coast we arrived at Hofn and our hotel on the Hornafjorour.
There are more photos below