Day six , May 23rd, was going to be another long day with scheduled major stops at Vatnajökull National Park, Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
We were up early the next morning and drove out to for Kirkjugólf (the church floor) so we could photograph it in better lighting conditions. I’m not quite sure why we spent so much time at Kirkjugólf because it is not that impressive. It is a bunch of rocks that appeared to be laid like a floor. It was a beautiful lication early in the morning.
There were a bunch of sheep wandering around. After all Kirkjugólf is located in a farm field. The short trail to the church floor passes Hildir’s Grave Mound.
On our way back to Horgsland for breakfast we decided to stop at the N1 and get gas. Up to this point we had purchased gas at manned stations but in this case it was early in the morning and the station wasn’t open. Unfortunately the instructions were not in English, some stations let you select the language for the instructions but this wasn’t one of them. To make matters worse the credit card did not work and we couldn’t figure out why so we continued on our way back to Horgsland. Just before we arrived for breakfast a bus load of German tourists came in. It was like locus invading a prime field.
Just after leaving Horgsland we encountered a wasterfall along the road. Unfortunately we couldn’t get really close to Foss a Sidu but it was a beautiful setting.
We only drove a short way when we encountered Dverghammar (Dwarf Cliffs). Our German friends had stopped so we thought we had better stop. Interesting organ like basalt column rock formations like those at the Church Floor. In both photos you can also see Foss a Sidu in the background.
We had just gotten back on the road when we encountered this little unnamed waterfall along the road. We stopped but at this rate were never going to make it to Hofn which was our final stop of the day.
Our next major stop was to be Vatnajökull National Park which is about half way between Kirkjubaejarklaustur and Hofn. On the way we stopped periodically to take photos of the surrounding area. At first we passed along a volcanic escarpment. As we continued on we started to see the glaciers of Vatnajökull National Park.
At one point we pulled off after driving over the new Skeidararsandur Bridge. This is a shot of what remains of the old Skeidararsandur Bridge after the a volcanic eruption caused a huge glacial flow down the Skeiðará river. Ice bolders the size of houses and weighing 100’s of tons crushed the bridge.
We turned off onto the road to the visitors center Vatnajökull National Park. Our plan was to spend some time hiking in the park. Some of the trails were closed because of the conditions but the trail to Svartifoss was open. Svartifoss is known for its columnar basalt amphitheater. There were quite a few people hiking to it the day we were there and it was difficult to photograph because of the small viewing area and all of the people.
We decided to circle hike so from Svartifoss we hiked over the mountain to the Sjónarnípa viewpoint overlooking the Skaftafell glacier and surrounding mountains. On the way we pass this view of an unknown waterfall.
We spent quite a bit of time at the Sjónarnípa overlook. There were a surprising number of hikers at the overlook although not nearly as many as were at Svartifoss. There were some beautiful views of the glacier and surrounding mountains. I managed to get a few close-up photos of the glacier.
The trail up to this point was fairly good but the trail above the glacier leading back to the visitors center was steep and rocky. I’m glad my wife made me bring a hiking pole stick because it came in handy on this portion of the trail. Iceland is not a place you can pick up a hiking stick along the trail.
After finishing our hike we were off to our next destination which turned out to be Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon. We passed glacier after glacier on our way to the Lagoon.
Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon is the smaller of two lagoons emanating from the Vatnajökull glacier. It was almost solid with icebergs that had broken off from the glacier.
Just a short drive down the road is Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. It is larger and a much more popular destination. As I started looking at the pictures of the Lagoon I realized that my wife spent her time photographing the Lagoon as a whole.
I spent most of my time photographing close-ups. of various things. Ice in the Lagoon, Ice on the shore, and a couple of brave girls standing in the freezing water.
There were about a half dozen Common Elders swimming around in the Lagoon. As we walked along they came quite close to us. It was clearly mating season and the males were giving the mating call. There was, what appeared to be, a pair of Elders with another male showing great interest in the female. It was fun to watch the interaction as we walked along the shore with them.
I was actually a bit disappointed with our visit to Jökulsárlón. The Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon empties into the ocean through a small inlet. The ice in the lagoon flows out into the ocean then is pushed back onto black sand beaches. This creates a backdrop for some stunning photographs. Unfortunately the tide was coming in and keeping the icebergs in the Lagoon. There were none on the beach to photograph.
We finally arrived in Hofn late in the day.
More photos and a complete listing of my Icelandic blogs can be found on my website.