Vatnajokull, Europe's largest glacier and icebergs of Jorkulsarlon glacial lagoon

Jokulsarlon Travel Blog

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We leave the "Montana lava fields" and continue our journey to the Glacial Lagoon. Along the way, we many several more areas of shifting waterways of sediment, making its way out to sea.

We start to see some of the glacial valley outlets that extend off of Vatnajokull. They are currently in a receeding pattern. Some of the glacial outlets even classify as ice falls. Below these areas are great expanses of volcanic sediment plains. They look like black sand deserts. The glaciers have also carved very intersting shapes from the volcanic rock. Our guide kept seein trolls but, I think she was in a troll state of mind. The size and scale of these natural wonders are impressive, especially as we kept getting closer and closer.

We cross Iceland's longest bridge, which is over an ever changing river of sometimes water and somtimes just sediment pushing past it.

Built to withstand floods of 317,000 cubic feet per second, the bridge was no match for the 1.6 million-cfs gusher unleashed by [the eruption of Vatnajökull volcano in 1996, which melted much of the snow on top of it]. For a few hours the volume of the water rivaled the flow of the world's second largest river, the Congo. No lives were lost, but damage to roads and utility lines is estimated at one billion Icelandic kronur ($15,000,000 U.S.)��"a vast sum for a nation of  265,000 citizens. Crossing the bridge, it's amazing that it's said to be built to that strength, given that it looks to be very basic and made of cheap materials.

At one point, we had to stop in the middle of the highway and wait for two opposing tractors to finish their conversation before we could continue on our way.

It was a bit funny.

Iceland´s highest peak, Hvannadalshnjukur is in Vatnajokull Glacier and rises 2110 meters above Iceland´s south shore. As we approach the lagoon you can reall get a feeling for the enormity of this site. To get to the beach at the glacier we have to cross a small suspension bridge and again wait for traffic and construction. Oh, also, these bridges are only one lane. In the middle there is an area for opposing cars to pass each other. This was typical for the bridges we passed on our journey.

We park our bus near the beach and get out for our first reall look at the lagoon. We were to be the next group on the amphibious vehichles. They would hold up to 25 people. As there were more than 25 in our group, I went in the second group hoping to get a better spot.

Everyone was trying to push their way onto the first one. I got was able to get a nice spot and staked my claim. We were given lifevests for our safety incase we ended up in the water......yeah, right. They said we would only last 5 mintues in the water before hypothermia would set in.

We set out down to the shore and then push on in. It was surreal to be in the water with these icebergs. We were told that the iceberg being shed, at this point, are around 1500 years old. The engine of the vehichle was really loud but, the view of the ice and the glacier was amazing. The white, blue, and gray colors of the bergs were like artistic sculptures. There were all shapes and sizes with some of them looking like chunks, grated, freeform, and some had geometric designs in them.

It was like a gallery of ice but, the art kept rolling, shifting, and moving out to sea. It was fantastic that I was able to witness one of the earth's living processes rarely seen by many people.

A guide met us out at the foot of the glacier. She transfered from a rubber speedboat and brought with her a chunk of glacial ice to show us. She ice she held was perfectly clear. She told us that when the ice was first shed by the glacier it would be blue, with white and sometimes the black sediment. As it is longer in the water it would purify and become clear. She let us hold the ice for pictures and then broke it into smaller pieces so each of us could hold it or even taste it. Mine tasted clean.....not really much taste, honestly. It was really something, to be able to hold a 1500 year old piece of glacier.

We drifted around for awhile more, being able to just absorb nature and be apart of it, if only for a short time. It was something that I will never forget.

We make our way to the shore, get off the vehichle, and had  a bit more time to explore the moraines or the shore, great places for different views and unique pictures.

It was time to go, now, so we board the bus and take a last glimpse of the lagoon and the glacier as we start our return to the west.

Please excuse some of the pics that are obviously taken from inside of the bus.....they are still great vistas, if not great pictures.

mountaingirl says:
The pictures of the glaciers are simply beautiful :-)
Posted on: Sep 14, 2009
Dr_Seuss says:
Impossible not to be impressed at Jokulsarlon, or to take at least 100 photographs :-D
Posted on: Sep 09, 2009
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photo by: maka77