Iceland – Ice Ice Baby!

Iceland – Ice Ice Baby!

If water – be that in falls, lagoons, pools or the sea – had been the dominant theme in the preceding days of this trip, then the agenda for our second full day in Iceland was all about ice. For this is Iceland after all, and glaciers and icebergs are surely on the agenda of everyone who visits this country. That includes a group of teenage girls and their teachers…and I was among the latter!

Whilst volcanic conditions are never far from Skaftafell – indeed the frequent tectonic activity (Iceland has some 20 earthquakes a day, you just can’t feel them) is responsible for much of the glacial movement in the region – here you get huge swathes of ice in its most pure form. And better still, you get to hike on it! Under the supervision of a fully trained guide, and you equipped with crampons, pick axe and harness, naturally.

Even from a distance, the vast field of ice that stretches like an askew, rumpled duvet from the distant snow-capped mountains down to the wasteland of the valleys below is quite a sight. Once you get up close to, and then on to, it the sublimity of the scene before you becomes even more apparent. At first glance the jagged, towering banks of the glacier can seem impenetrable, but once you’re eased on to it via a more accessible entrance you get to relax and simply enjoy the breath-taking surroundings.

I say ‘relax’ but it’s important not to let your guard down completely, as your gait is important to get right to avoid slippage (even with crampons on), and crevasses lurk at hidden corners in which a fall could be fatal. But examining the glacial formations and contrasts among the layers of colours up close is fascinating, and the mountain backdrop isn’t bad either! And so no surprise that this is another move location – Rogue One, Batman Begins and Interstellar all had scenes shot here.

There was even stuff to keep the girls amused. They were able to smash at the ice with their pick axes and eat the pure, clean ice of the glacier, and on the walk back they had fun trampling on the thinner sheets of ice, cracking it like glass underfoot. One of the teachers seemed to think it was a good idea to get them to sing Let It Go from Frozen…not what I would have done, but it did give me an idea for a future thing we could do…

The other ‘icy’ experience came later in the form of Jokulsarlon Glacial lagoon and beach. Many people say that this is their highlight of Iceland. It’s not hard to see why.

Whilst in the summer you can take a boat out on to the water, the sheer amount of ice in the lagoon in winter is stunning, and some of the formations are remarkable. We were lucky that the towering centrepiece iceberg – which either look like a pair of hands cupped in semi-prayer, or the jaws of a reclining dinosaur, depending on your perspective – was there when we were (our guide said it hadn’t been just a week prior), and it was complemented by both the surrounding sheets and the smaller icebergs we could see eddying toward the sea.

It’s also possible to spot seals among the icebergs, although they can be timid, and we only saw ones in the distance. What we did see were people standing on the blocks of ice in the lagoon, flagrantly ignoring the warning signs in so doing. They got a dressing down from our guide for that and, to their credit, also a few words of disbelief directed at them from some of our girls!

The sea nearby is also worth a visit, where huge block of ice are beached on the shore, with the froth of the incoming tide rushing around them. It is the perfect opportunity to eat ice, try and spot seals and, of course, simply marvel at the natural beauty of the scene before you. You’ll find yourself doing a lot of that in Iceland!

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16 Comments

  • Emma

    May 1, 2017 at 4:30 pm Reply

    Looks amazing! Some fabulous pics 🙂

  • Priya

    May 1, 2017 at 5:11 pm Reply

    Iceland is always so mesmerising. Great pics and great post. Lucky you got to travel and experience ICeland. I am still waiting for visiting this amazing place. I love love this place too much.

    • Joe

      May 1, 2017 at 5:36 pm Reply

      Thanks Priya. There’s no doubt that it is a special place, and I was lucky to visit for free with the School I work at! Hope you do get to visit one day 🙂

  • Christine K

    May 1, 2017 at 6:15 pm Reply

    Usually one gets to see photos of the Blue Lagoon and Reykjavik. Such a nice change to see these very icy landscapes of Iceland. Looks like everyone had a great time and that photo of the group is dynamic. Certainly captures a memorable moment.

    • Joe

      May 1, 2017 at 10:16 pm Reply

      Well, those are indeed two very iconic and picturesque destinations. But to me these will always remain the definitive Icelandic experiences 🙂 We did have a great time, and the glacier hike was a genuine highlight, no doubt about that!

  • Amanda Keeley-Thurman

    May 1, 2017 at 8:28 pm Reply

    How awesome. Iceland is at the top of my list. There is such great airfare right now too. I want to get on a plane right now!
    Amanda Keeley-Thurman recently posted…10 Insane (But True) Facts About GlasgowMy Profile

    • Joe

      May 1, 2017 at 10:17 pm Reply

      A sign that, maybe, now is the time to go. I certainly recommend it!

  • Vibeke Johannessen

    May 1, 2017 at 9:01 pm Reply

    This looks so nice. It seems like Iceland is a top destination this year and last year. I see so many posts about it. I haven’t been there yet even though I am from Norway, which is pretty close to Iceland. I would love to visit in Winter and Summer as well. I know that it is many places you can’t get access to during winter. The icebergs look so unreal. It looks pretty scary to walk around there but good you had guides and you were in a group. It is crazy that it is so many earthquakes in Iceland.

    • Joe

      May 1, 2017 at 10:20 pm Reply

      Well, I would love to visit Norway but have not got round to it yet. Funny how those things work out! It’s true that during Winter you might not get to see everything, but we were lucky, and got to do the glacier hike in part because it was so unseasonably mild. It may look scary, but it was very safe with our excellent guides 🙂

  • Rachael

    May 2, 2017 at 3:39 am Reply

    I would love to spend a day in Iceland going around to see different glaciers and ice fields. Such a beautiful country!
    Rachael recently posted…Best Bites of San Francisco: Fog Harbor Fish HouseMy Profile

  • Matilda

    May 2, 2017 at 11:51 am Reply

    Would love to visit Iceland soon! Such a beautiful country!
    Matilda recently posted…15 Gifts for Women Who TravelMy Profile

  • oursweetadventures

    May 3, 2017 at 4:48 pm Reply

    This makes me want to go to Iceland even more. I love the description of the glacier as a crumpled Duvet. Perfect description. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Joe

      May 3, 2017 at 5:17 pm Reply

      Hey no worries, and thanks for your kind words 🙂

  • Sandy N Vyjay

    May 4, 2017 at 1:37 am Reply

    A superb trip that you had. I guess in visiting Iceland visitors should join glacier trips to experience Iceland to the fullest. In a way you only not be able to get to know that place you will also have a chance to get to know other people. Iceland is a dream destination and we hope to get there someday.
    Sandy N Vyjay recently posted…6 Reasons why a stay at the Radisson Blu Hotel GRT, Chennai is an unforgettable experienceMy Profile

  • Valerie

    May 4, 2017 at 4:52 am Reply

    Wow! This sums up everything I’ve dreamt about Iceland. How perfect does it look.

  • Riely

    May 5, 2017 at 3:26 am Reply

    Such an incredible experience. I would love to venture to Iceland one day and explore these icy lands. The Glaciers in your photos are stunning! Nothing I have seen up close yet. Thank you for sharing.

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