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Published: September 19th 2021
Iceland day 6 & 7 from 22
No need to be up with the lark on Saturday as we are staying local, ready for a late afternoon treat - or at least when we woke we thought our booking was for late afternoon.
Hostel kitchen facilities for our travelling breakfast and then out, just 3km up the road, to what looked like an interesting little local museum celebrating the life of a notable Icelandic author. Cute outside wall to the building, looking like a giant bookshelf (and also a hiding place for a geo-cache).
As we were arriving, around 09:10, Paul noted that he had just received an email regarding our "trip" booking for later that afternoon. We were booked for the last trip of the day, 16:20, but the weather conditions were such that the last two trips of the day were cancelled. We sent a quick email reply saying we were only 30 minutes away and could be flexible for any other slot that day.
As it was we didn't enter the museum as it was expensive, and it wasn't as if we even knew the author. Instead we headed off to the trip depot.
Once there they offered us 13:10 or 14:30. We initially said the latter but immediately thought "what if the weather gets worse earlier" so (re)booked for the 13:10.
We were at the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. This iceberg strewn lagoon is 17 km² at the end of a glacier tongue which itself comes off Europe's largest glacier. The lagoon is up to 300 metres deep, and its area is expanding as the glacier retreats.
The lagoon is full of icebergs, which have calved themselves off from the front end of the glacier. They then slowly drift across the lagoon towards the sea. Occasionally, even though the lagoon is so deep, the 'bergs are that large that they get stuck on the bottom allowing the water to work around their edges and form fantastical shapes.
Eventually they make their way out to sea, beneath a bridge carrying the Route 1 ring road, along Iceland's shortest river, barely 1 km long. At sea they get battered about by the tides and the waves and smaller pieces then litter the black sand beach.
We returned to the parking lot, and a hot coffee and chocolate was in order as the
rain started to come and go. At around 12:30 it was time to get kitted out for our rib - boat - trip across the lagoon to the face of the glacier.
There are 3 ways onto the lagoon
- kayak, a bit too high risk for us
- amphibious vessel, secure but only does close to the jetty, not across to the face
- rib - reinforced inflatable boat - a fast paced thrill ride.
We were booked for the latter, but first we had to be suited up. For all passengers that meant a full body inflatable immersion suit plus a life vest.
Suitably attired the "Captain", as he introduced himself, loaded us into the rib, the 7of us perched on the rigid side tubes and hanging on for dear life every time the Captain opened up the throttle. On the way across he stopped several times at different 'bergs explaining some of the different colours and ice effects. We also saw some of the lagoon's resident seals. But not too many, apparently they don't like rain - who knew eh?
He slowly took us along the face edge of the tongue whilst keeping a
safe distance. Turns out the main danger is not from large blocks that can drop into the sea. Rather, it is that the water melts the ice in such a way that there is an underwater ice shelf extending many metres out front of the glacier, and if a piece breaks off from that it can shoot up to the surface.
After we had been out for around 45 minutes it was time to head back, direct, at speed. This wasn't that pleasant as the rain was pretty relentless by then, so it was a case of bending face down & toughing it out. A great trip though.
As we were getting off the rib the Captain told us that that was the last trip of the day. The weather was too bad now for any more trips. It was a good job we had changed times.
Sunday was back to steady driving through stunning landscapes. Still travelling further east for around 200 km before turning northwards. Today we have left the vast volcanic and glacial plains behind and were travelling mostly on a narrow strip between high plateau and the sea. If there was an international
market for scree we're sure Iceland would be market leaders.
The land around this south eastern corner appears quite fertile. Many sheep, and bale after bale of plastic wrapped harvested silage.
Mostly we moved from brief stop to brief stop
- outside a FossHotel to find a geo-cache. It looked empty, felt like a scene from The Shining
- Höfn - we needed to drop into here for fuel, and we got a couple of caches too, but as a place it was disappointing. But one cache was at a memorial to the first plane to land in Iceland in August 1924. 4 planes set off from Seattle for an around the world trip that took nearly 6 months. The next cache was located amongst a scale model of the solar system which lines the foreshore at a 2.1 billionth scale for both the sun and planets and their orbits. That shoreline also had some pseudomorphs of trees - 'fossil' outlines of tree trunks preserved by molten magma 5 million years ago.
- at a beautiful stopoff we took time for a soup brew-up whilst admiring the view.
- at the Hvalnes Nature Reserve on the lake behind
a mile long black sand beach were hundreds of whooper swans
-a coffee stop at a lovely little fishing port, Djúpivogur. Just on the edge of here are the Eggs of Merry Bay, an art installation by a local artist Sigurdur Grudmundsson. This is 34 polished stone eggs - not real size! - on plinths, representing local birds.
We now have a couple of nights in an actual hotel, rather than an hostel, inland, in Egilsstaðir. We are starting to keep our eyes peeled for the Northern Lights. We have an app which has been showing confirmed sightings on northern Iceland.
Tot: 0.041s; Tpl: 0.023s; cc: 6; qc: 24; dbt: 0.0057s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb