Day 3, Iceland

It was an eventful evening. As I said before, Dan and I planned a long road trip today to the southeast coast. An early bedtime was in order! We had just fallen asleep when my phone rang, with the hotel owner letting me know there was a small showing of northern lights. Well we jumped out of bed and threw on our coats and headed out to see a timid, but real show of the Aurora! As you can imagine, it took awhile to get back to sleep!

Northern Lights. A small dance, but a dance nonetheless!


We woke early, grabbed our box breakfast and hit the road towards Jokulsarlon. This is only place where a glacier (Iceland’s largest) touches the ocean… forming Glacier Bay and the Diamond Beach. The sun was shining and the drive was stunning! We are certainly feeling blessed with the weather once again.


We drove east on the ring road, past sites we had seen on our first day. From there we crossed an amazing alluvial basin… at one point flat prairie grassland, another displayed miniature lava cones for miles and then a strange landscape featuring undulating round rocks covered by a moss like substance. All the while, mountains and glaciers stood guard in the background. But first a little humour to start our day!

This farmer provides a colourful collection to keep the birds away!


Check out the barn buried in the lower left hand corner… keeps the horses or sheep nice and warm, while up above, the cliff side was alive with nesting birds!
Essex county in Ontario isn’t any flatter than this!
Such interesting rock deposits that ran for miles.
….and then a barren land filled with gravel! Stay tuned, I found out where it came from!

After approximately 4 hours of driving we reached our first stop: Glacier Bay, or Jokulsarlon.  Had we been here in May or later, we could have taken a boat out to see the calving icebergs.  We settled for exploring the edge of the bay on a couple of fabulous hiking trails.  Needless to say, we didn’t miss the boat!

Captivating pose!
The hike took us along some incredible vistas. We even saw a couple of icebergs calve or turn over! Noisy! They apparently get caught on the bottom and then get get flipped as the tide rises.
Fascinating watching these giants!


Next stop was across the highway to the outlet of the bay ( short glacial river actually). Destination Diamond Bay. Breathtaking in the beautiful sunshine.

Posing in front of sparkling diamonds
The land of Fire and Ice…well we certainly found the ice!


After a short walk along the beach we opted to make our lunch in our car. As we looked out, we saw two surfers riding the waves around a small grounded iceberg. If that wasn’t enough, we saw a whale surface just to the west of them! Amazing!

All over lunch while overlooking a diamond beach


It was hard to tear ourselves away from this magical place, but we had one more stop to make. In Skaftafell National Park, we hiked to one of the most beautiful falls in Iceland, Svartifoss. This falls is surrounded by basalt columns, making it appear like it has a pipe organ as a backdrop.

Can you see the organ pipes behind the waterfall?


By the time we finished our hike we headed westward towards our hotel. With another 3,5 hours left in our drive we needed to do a quick stop mid way to stretch our legs…and of course, we happened upon an interpretive site that explained the miles of flat plain and gravel we had just crossed. It turns out that in Iceland water can accumulate underneath glaciers because of the geothermal activity. When it breaches the ice dam a huge flood occurs… like dumping an entire lake out from beneath. This phenomenon is called Jokulhlaup or glacial flood. The strength of these takes out entire roadways and bridges for miles!

Jokulhlaup: now the international term for these glacial floods
Examples of damage done by these flash floods
Overlooking the same scene today!

After our stretch, we were awake enough to get ourselves home. Our cozy hotel awaited with a delicious Arctic Char dinner!

Cooked to perfection, but then again for $50 CDN it should be!

After a long day, we are ready for our bed! Tomorrow is our last day of exploring and we’ll be leaving this slice of paradise and heading into Reykjavik for our last night in Iceland. Stay tuned for more of our adventures! Until then….

Categories: Hiking in Iceland and the UK

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