Vatnajökull Glacier

Europe’s largest glacier, and the third largest in the world (after the ice caps in Antarctica and Greenland), Vatnajökull was a highlight of my time in Iceland.

My first glimpse of it was crossing the Skaftárhraun lava fields from the 1783 Laki eruption. Now covered in moss, they were an erie and to my eyes beautiful landscape to travel through. In the distance was Vatnajökull, filling the horizon with ice. As we drove toward it a tongue of the epic glacier came into view.

My first close up view was the iceberg filled lagoon at Svínafellsjökull, looking quite otherworldly with white and black icebergs floating in the brown waters.

Svínafellsjökull was just a warm up though for the quite incredible Jökulsárlón, justifiably one of the most popular places in Iceland. Fifty years ago the glacier fed directly into the sea, but it has retreated so much since (which is quite terrifying and consistent with almost every other glacier I’ve seen) that a lagoon has been created in which icebergs gradually melt before becoming small enough to pass out to sea.

We took a boat ride through the lagoon, though you can see plenty from land, and it’s worth heading to the beach for the surreal sight of them washed up on the beach.

Author: jontycrane

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