After an overnight stay in Vik, we continued to the east of Iceland – ahead of us were more waterfalls and something we had not yet seen in Iceland – a glacier. And not just any kind, as one of the largest in the world. Another day rich in scenic views, and incidentally the coldest during our entire trip.
Table of contents
Journey from Vik to Hofn
The day began with a good deed. The weather was not good, it was pouring the next day, so without hesitation we took a soaked tourist on foot. The Swiss, traveling alone, was not a very talkative traveling companion, but the time passed quite amicably anyway. We drove to exactly the same place, but we wanted to deviate a bit from Ring Road, so we parted at a parking lot on the main road.
That place was Fjaðrárgljúfur – a picturesque canyon with the Fjaðrá River, up to 100 meters deep, and approx. 2 km. The canyon was formed by water flowing down from a nearby glacier. We didn’t plan to stay here longer, and the weather wasn’t encouraging either, so we took a short walk around the area and returned to warm up in the car as standard.
However, we recommend this place to everyone, even during the ugly weather is beautiful and atmospheric!
Further you can also travel by car, but only in the 4×4 version :) This is informed by signs.
We’ve probably written about this a few times already, but we’ll repeat ourselves once again – just driving across the island is quite an attraction, look what views we had on the way to the glacier.
Nothing but stopping every now and then :)
After a long stretch of driving, we stopped at one of the roadside bars for something warm.
Hot soup (of the day) with bread tastes even better in this weather :)
It is worth mentioning here that almost every bar you encounter offers virtually the same types of dishes. Best of all, at virtually the same prices. So you don’t have to look for cheaper food, because there isn’t even anywhere :) For us this time soup, free water and some fish was enough ;)
After many stops, we arrived at Skaftafell – it used to be a separate national park, but in 2008 it was incorporated into Vatnajökull National Park (which is the de facto largest national park in Europe!). The Vatnajökull glacier located here is the second largest glacier in Europe by area! However, if volume is taken into account, the Icelandic glacier reigns supreme on the old continent.
A glacier expedition?
It was the first time there was a parking problem here – the whole place was swamped with cars and coaches, so parking was done wherever we could. Since this is the place from where excursions to the glacier are organized, many cars stay for a long time and unfortunately there is a problem with the availability of parking spaces.
Once we managed to squeeze in somewhere we set off for the tourist information, passing along the way several booths organizing the aforementioned tours.
Interestingly, you don’t need any experience to go on such an expedition! The companies offer expeditions for both old-timers and laymen who have never had crampons on their boots. You can choose in the level of difficulty and length of the route. Correction, you can choose when you book fairly early, because in high season it can be hard to find a vacant seat :)
The site offers many activities even for those who have no desire to walk on the ice. A number of hiking trails with different levels of difficulty begin here, including. to Svartifoss waterfall or Skaftafellsjökull glacier (also wheelchair accessible). Looking forward to seeing the glacier, we set off along the path to the east – the route takes about 1h (two ways).
When we arrived at the site, the first feeling we had was disappointment – the ugly, cloudy weather did not allow us to see the glacier in all its glory, and the glacier itself in this place is extremely gray, dirty, and not snow-white ;) Fortunately, after a while the clouds moved away a bit, and we could even touch the ice (in summer!).
Jökulsárlón – ice lagoon
Continuing east, more and more glacier tongues can be seen on the left.
There are also bays where boats with tourists float among large chunks of ice. However, we recommend you to go further, towards Jökulsárlón – this is a lake, formed from water flowing down from a glacier. You’ll recognize the place by the distinctive bridge and the large number of cars on both sides of the road.
The glacier here is magnificent, with huge chunks of ice floating on the water, and every now and then you can hear these chunks breaking off and bouncing off each other. The critters are flowing downstream into the Atlantic Ocean.
The views are simply amazing!
On the other side of the road is a dark beach. We recommend you especially this place – here you can see contrasting huge chunks of ice on the dark sand.
The glacier and lake itself have also appealed to many directors (this is where James Bond, Lara Croft and Batman, among others, were filmed). Especially look out for puffins and seals coming into the bay – we managed to spot one :)
It was the coldest place on our trip (it was about 4 degrees), but definitely worth getting to this part of Iceland.
We continued on to the place where we had booked our next overnight stay – Höfn. The accommodation turned out to be the most expensive and worst we had during the entire trip. Fortunately, it was only one night, so it was important to be able to wash, dry clothes and sleep :)
Enjoy the entire gallery: