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Islands of the North Atlantic Trip report

South via glaciers and waterfalls

We checked out of our hotel near Hofn in the rain this morning (8th). Grim. Oh well. Now in character for how we imagined Iceland, instead of all the lovely weather we’ve been having.

First stop was the Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon, to see the icebergs. This was a bit meh, I’m afraid. Rain, cold, lots of (other) tourists, and smaller than the Grey Glacier lagoon in Patagonia, or (duh) any of the glaciers we saw up close in zodiacs around Svalbard. It was just a hop over a bridge away from the Jokulsarlon Ice Beach, famous from many photos. This is the black sand beach where the icebergs that have drifted out of the aforementioned glacier lagoon are blown up onto the beach, where they sit, melting pretily. It was still cold and wet, but the ice against the black snow was certainly beautiful.

From there it was a long-ish drive around the coast, to get to the Skaftafell waterfall, inside the Vatnajokull National Park. Along the way we stopped many times to see the glaciers, and we kept looking out for Öræfajökull, the conical snow covered volcano that is prominent along the coast, but it spent the day hiding in cloud, even when the rain stopped.

By the time we had parked at the Skaftafell car park, and paid our parking fee through the very cool automated (number-plate based) kiosk in the national park visitor centre, the rain had cleared away, which made the 2km-ish hike up and in to the falls much more pleasant than it would have been if wet. Very cool falls, spilling over a columnar bassalt wall. From up on the track, there were also great views across the endless glacier-river delta that surrounds the whole area, pushing the coastline far away to the south. Flat as a pancake, criss-crossed by streams and meanders. Hardly any vegetation.

We had a decent bowl of lamb soup for lunch at a nearby petrol station caffeteria, and then pushed on to try to find an old turf-roofed church that the guide books said was about half an hour away, near the mountain Lómagnúpur, but we didn’t find it. Lots and lots of other interesting scenery, of both the flat and mountainous kinds.

Reached our farmhouse guesthouse just after six, checked in, and then immediately drove back to the town of Vik, about ten minutes back up the road, for dinner.

Big day.

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