Day 2 South Coast and Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon Tour

Pulling back the curtains in my hotel room after a restful night’s sleep, I was rewarded with a beautiful blue sky and a shining sun. Taking my seat again in the dining area for breakfast, a generous offering of cereals, fruit, yoghurt, eggs, breads and cheese, the view beyond the window was inspiring. The ocean was a dark blue, set against a light blue sky, that met pure white snow.
 
We were soon on our way, first stop at the black beach at Jokulsarlon. Set against the backdrop of glacial mountains, icebergs drifted peacefully past before being thrown by the ocean’s waves. But scattered all over the beach were more icebergs of various sizes and shapes.  Sculpted by Mother Nature, each iceberg was a unique work of art. I was in photography paradise,  carrying my tripod and SLR along the beach in an attempt to capture the beauty. We spent forty five minutes here, long enough for most, but as an amateur photographer, frankly I could have been left here for another forty five minutes.

 A short journey of a few minutes across the bridge, we arrived at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. The actual size of the lagoon felt deceptively hidden by all the icebergs and snow covering its surface. However, a walk along its edge, with ice that looked like glass cracking underfoot certainly gave me a good idea of just how large the lagoon is. With too much ice on the surface, and a boat ride not possible, I hiked up the mound which gave me a fantastic aerial view of the lagoon.

 
As we journeyed on towards our glacier hike, the landscape of Iceland’s south east coast finally revealed herself under a clear blue, sunny sky. The mountains looked formidable, towering around us in the mini bus.  We passed the mountain of Lonagnupur which had an 800 metre vertical drop.

 
The landscape of Iceland sometimes felt like another planet. The earth was a pure white as a result of the snow. It looked like it could have been soft, white sand. When the wind started to blow, the snow drifted across the land like moving fog.

  
Our last stop before the journey back to Reykjavik was our glacier hike. Equipped with a helmet, ice-pick and crampons (just make sure you watch the demonstration of how to fit these before actually trying it), we set off on our glacier hike. It was a shame it had been snowing the last few days, as the glacier was covered in snow. Had it not, I imagine we would have been walking on glistening ice. Nonetheless, it was another great experience, with undulating type columns of ice covered in snow, and a hike down and through  an exposed part of the glacier, that looked like glass.

 
As our mini bus took us back towards Reykjavik,  with the ocean on our left, and glacial mountains on our right, the sun started to set, casting the sky in a soft pink colour. Feeling full of gratitude, this was a fantastic two day tour showcasing some of Iceland’s best landscape.

I highly recommend this trip with Extreme Iceland. The small group experience that is part and parcel of a mini bus tour resulted in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere where I got to know my fellow travellers over the two days. I know some companies offer this trip in one day, but frankly, two days is a definite minimum for the south east coast.

Thanks Ingo and Extreme Iceland. This will be one travel experience I’ll always remember fondly.

http://www.extremeiceland.is 

Day 1 of the South Coast and Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon Tour

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My two day South Coast and Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon mini bus tour with Extreme Iceland was one of the highlights of my thirteen days in the amazing country that is Iceland! It was originally a three day tour that included the ice cave, but Mother Nature has a mind of her own, and the cave had started to melt. So this part of the trip was cancelled.  Regardless, this south coast tour took in some of the best landscape Iceland has to offer.

Being the first person to be collected, I sat in the front seat, my favourite place. What I personally love about the front seat is the view of the road being travelled ahead. Other than actually driving, being passenger up front is the next best thing for me. Plus I’m not one to fall asleep in a moving vehicle either, especially with so much visual stimulation beyond the windows.

Iceland is very flat, with less than one percent of the country covered in trees. And as it snowed most of the day, the landscape beyond the window looked like flat snowfields. The white of the snow merged with the sky, and the mountain ranges remained hidden from view. Instead, only some rocky outcrops could be seen, along with some volcanic rocks on the ground.

First stop was Seljalandsfoss. Foss means waterfall, and this one was sixty metres high. Into the winter wonderland I trekked to view Seljalandsfoss, and onto the track that takes you behind it. The ground was very icy under foot, and very muddy behind the waterfall. So much care was needed on the approach, but it was worth it. There’s something special about standing behind a waterfall and seeing it cascade down in front of you.

Skogafoss was the second waterfall to be viewed.  The landscape here felt expansive, with various shades of grey set against a white snow backdrop.  There is a metal staircase that leads to a viewing platform at the top of the waterfall, well worth the hike up to see the waterfall from above, as well as the land below.

The black beach at Vik was impressive, especially because the black volcanic sand and rocks contrasted against the white snow. The ocean had some strong currents, and we were warned against standing too close with our back to the waves. Some people have been dragged into the water, and drowned as a result.

Our evening was spent at Smyrlabjorg, a small village by the ocean, with towering mountains around. The guesthouse was so beautiful, with some amazing photographs on the walls depicting the northern lights and Jokulsarlon. I love landscape photography and I felt like I was viewing an exhibition. I definitely recommend eating dinner with the group, which is not included in the tour price. The vegetable soup was freshly made, the trout delicious, and the chocolate cake rounded off the three course dining experience with a glass wall looking out to the ocean.

With an overcast sky forecast for the area, trying to catch a glimpse of the northern lights was not possible, even though the activity was good. A brilliant day spent, I couldn’t wait to see what day two would bring. Stay tuned…

(Photos uploaded on the Gallery page)