Nothing prepared me for the drive along the Ring Road from Vik to Jökulsárlón. Located at the southeastern tip of Iceland following the immense Vatnajökull, the largest ice cap outside of the poles, is a drive of some of the most spectacular glacial scenery on earth.
At each slightly bending turn, one is rewarded with an enormous frozen valley of ice jetting off from the ice cap down into the black, hardened lava fields and dead gray sand. It is such an impressive sight that the drive took us double the amount of time to account for each and every stop along the way to take photos of these mammoth glaciers. The glacial tongues seemed to be everywhere and go as far as the eye could see. I continually had to pinch myself to see if I was really here in such an unbelievable place, in a world that is still in the process of being created.
Following are some pictures from along the way…
Sometimes pictures speak louder than words.
After leaving Vik, we soon encountered our first glacier off in the distance. Initially we thought it was a cloud. As we moved closer, we realized to our delight it was an enormous glacier sliding down off the mighty Vatnajökull ice cap. Covering area of 8,100 km², the ice cap represents 8% of the total area of Iceland! It is absolutely enormous and is loaded with frozen glacial rivers, lakes, and volcanoes.
A closer view of our “first” (of many) glaciers:
Driving along the Ring Road is a bit scary at points. You are constantly awestruck and enthralled by the sightings of so many glaciers that it is hard to keep your eyes on the road. Yet, you must pay attention! One-lane bridges like this one pictured below tend to sneak up on you fast.
The eerie landscape reminds you that you are in one of the world’s newest countries. Iceland is constantly forming and evolving every day.
Suddenly, we turn the corner and WOW!!!! We are shocked to see not one, not two, but four glaciers off in distance like clouds tumbling down a hill. I have never seen anything like this before.
Somehow or another, we are able to remain on the road (though it is really difficult to concentrate on driving!) and head off in the distance, in search of the glaciers.
Rivers are common in this part of Iceland. As the glaciers melt and flow down off the ice cap, rivers form bringing in glacial gray sand, rock and dirt. The sun tries to peek out from under the clouds, uncovering just the tip of the ice cap that goes beyond one’s imagination.
Another long, one-lane bridge brings us closer to our destination. This time we see a car! But thankfully they saw us too and waited on the other side until we passed safely.
At times the clouds are so dark and threatening that we are certain it will rain. But only a few drops trickle out. The heavens are not quite ready to release a downpour.
Then it suddenly and magically clears up, letting the sun cast a brilliant sparkling glow across the ice.
When we finally reach the parking lot of Jökulsárlón, the clouds dispersed, releasing the jubilant, glorious sun. Judging by what we had seen along the way, we knew we were in for a real treat.
As we walked up the dark mass of sand and rock, we had no idea whatsoever what awaited us behind those gray walls:
My heart raced in excitement and anticipation. I had never seen pictures of Jökulsárlón. All I knew was that glacial lagoon of Jökulsárlón was supposed to be a photographer’s paradise. I had heard about the brilliant diamond blue icebergs that floated gracefully across the lagoon. But nothing prepared me for my first sight of this slice of heaven.
Off in the distance as far as the eye could see, the glacier tumbled down off the ice cap and into the aquamarine lagoon, leaving icebergs the size of buildings drifting slowly and peacefully across the water.
The magical sculptured icebergs bewitched my soul. They glistened like diamonds in the brilliant sun.
I’m not really a religious person. But if there is a God, he must have cast a spell on Iceland: There is no place quite like this on earth.
Stay tuned….next post will continue to follow my adventure with a stop-over in surreal Skaftafell Park. About as far out there and “lost in Iceland” as you can get.