Iceland, Day 3: Glacial Lagoon and Svínafellsjökull

The Glacial Lagoon, or Jökulsárlón, is one of the main tourist attractions in Iceland. It is located by the coast, between Höfn and Skaftafell, right off Route 1. The lagoon is formed by ice chipping off from the tongue of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. The chunks of ice of varying size slide from the glacier into the lagoon and float around as icebergs, gradually melting and drifting towards the mouth of the lagoon and to the ocean.

The first thing one sees when arriving at the lagoon is the parking lot and a few amphibian boats that take visitors to the lagoon:

Each of these boats can take a couple of dozens of passengers plus the skipper and the guide for a ~30 minute tour of the lake. The boat rides right into the lagoon and navigates around the icebergs.

The icebergs vary in size and in color. Some of them emit a turquoise glow, the others are just gray with dirt and dust accumulated on the glacier.

One doesn’t need to get on a boat to enjoy the beauty of Jökulsárlón, and many visitor do so from the shore. On one side the lagoon faces a range of brownish, barren mountains:

From the other side it is approached by a tongue of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, to which the lagoon owes its existence:

Blue, white and turquoise are the predominant colors, wherever one looks:

Eventually the icebergs are reduced in size by melting and drift from the lagoon to the sea via a narrow outlet:

After an hour long hike along the lagoon’s shore, we head west down the coastal highway towards Skaftafell. However we make one more stop on our way, putting on the crampons for a brief walk on Svínafellsjökull glacier.

Svínafellsjökull glacier is one of the arms of Vatnajökull, which is the largest ice cap in Europe.

It is probably the most popular glacier in Iceland for hiking.

The weather kept changing all the time during our hike, occasionally showing us patches of blue sky.

At the edge of the glacier the terrain looked rough, muddy and reddish with some volcanic rocks.

This concludes our 3rd day. We’re now heading towards Skaftafell where we’re going to spend the next day hiking around the Vatnajökull glacier.

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