Day five in Iceland and it was time to venture out of Reykjavik. The nice people of Reykjavik Excursions had provided us the Glacier Lagoon excursion for gratis. We had not been paid to or had been asked to write a positive review in exchange. It was going to be a long day starting with a pick up at 7am and not returning until about 10pm. We were travelling all along the South coast to Europe’s largest glacier – Vatnajökull. So large that it covers 8% of the total land space in Iceland.
Our guide for the day was Guamundur Orn Ragnarsson or ‘Gus’ for short. Gus did a great job at keeping us entertained along the way. He had a huge knowledge of Iceland and told us lots of interesting facts about the landscape we saw along our journey. He told us stories of Iceland’s many volcanoes and their history of eruptions. One story in particular was very familiar, about Eyjafjallajökull which was the volcano that erupted back in 2010 causing a huge ash cloud to spread across Europe and ground most of the flights. Barry and I had our own memories of this as it almost stopped us from being able to fly to America to get married.
Having been on our coach for a couple of hours, it was time for the first stop at Seljalandsfoss. It was a 60ft waterfall, embedded in the Icelandic countryside. There were lots of mini waterfalls that we saw along the way running down the mountainsides but they were largely due to the amount of rain that was running down from the hilltops. This was the perfect excuse for Barry to get out the drone and get a birds eye view of it. As he messed around with his new toy, I walked straight up to the waterfall and headed for the walkway to go round it. You could actually walk right behind and view the waterfall from the back. Naively I didn’t think about how wet I might get doing this and given that I had Barry’s camera with me, I didn’t think he’d be too impressed if I waterlogged it. I did manage to hide it in my coat before it was too late though!
We’d only been given 15 minutes to check out the falls, which wasn’t nearly long enough. By the time Barry had messed around with the drone and made his way along the path to join me behind the falls, 15 minutes had passed already. We quickly took some snaps and sped walked round the falls and back to the coach. We weren’t the last ones back though and when the last guy did finally return, Gus was quick to shame him in front of everyone to make sure he knew not to do it again!
Before long we reached our second stop of the trip and with that brought another waterfall – Skogafoss. I thought this one was much more impressive but perhaps that’s because the sun decided to come out and created a beautiful rainbow alongside the falls.
More drone shots and selfies later, it was time to get back on the coach and head further towards our final destination. Along the way we saw some beautiful scenery including lots more waterfalls, some cute little houses hidden in the hills and we even went through the largest lava field in Iceland. This was the remnants of an old volcanic eruption that happened a long time ago but went on for a good few years. Gus told us about a priest who prayed for his town to protect them from the menacing lava and as if by a miracle the lava skipped the town and carried onto the next one. Was it a miracle or was it just coincidence? You decide!
As we made our way closer the lagoon, we started to drive past huge glaciers and snow capped mountains in the distance including the highest peak in Iceland, Hvannadalshnúkur.
We made a quick stop for lunch where Barry and I tucked into some gorgeous lamb shanks and dauphinoise potatoes and then it was back on the road for the final 45 minutes.
As we pulled up into the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, I was taken aback by how amazing it all looked. One of my favourite things I’ve seen is Hooker Lake in New Zealand, but that was nothing compared to this. In comparison Hooker Lake was more like tiny ice cubes floating in a puddle; this was huge chunks of glacier floating in a sea. Barry had booked us onto a boat trip that took us round the icebergs. It was like those duck boats that go from land to sea that you get round the Thames in London. We were all given a lifejacket as we boarded – I’d be more concerned about freezing to death if I fell in than actually sinking!
Cruising round the lagoon and in amongst the icebergs was definitely a highlight of the entire trip. It was very cold and windy but fantastic and well worth the five-hour drive to get there. There were so many shapes and sizes and one of them even cracked apart as we went round, dropping into the water and bobbing around sending a mini ripple effect out and around it.
Our guide got us some 1000-year-old ice out of the water to hold. I don’t know how they know how old it is – I’m pretty dubious to be honest – but if I take their word for it, then at least I can say I’ve held a 1000 year old block of ice!
We sailed round for a little bit longer and checked out all the different shapes and colours of the bergs. My particular favourite was one that looked like a dinosaur backbone.
After about 40 minutes, we were back on land and back on the coach where we made the long journey back. Gus regaled us with more facts and even sang us a little song – best guide ever!