Saturday, May 16, 2015

Iceland - Day 5

May 16, 2015

We planned to spend the entire day hiking in Skaftafell National Park then the following day making our way to Höfn and hiking in Stafafell, but I couldn't handle the thought of being so cold and wet for 2+ more days, so we decided to shorten our hike in Skaftafell to a half day, visit the glacier lagoon a day earlier and skip hiking in Stafafell altogether. Instead, we ended up spending much more time in the Eastern Fjörds and it was well worth it. 

So we began the morning at Jökulsárlón, the most famous glacier lagoon in Iceland. The lagoon itself was pretty. And probably won't be around for much longer. The lagoon is filled with glacial melt water and the icebergs are formed when the retreating glacier (that currently hangs over the lake) breaks off. Eventually, the glacier will retreat past the hole in the underlying land where the lake is and the pieces will simply break off onto land. 

The lagoon is cool, but much more impressive is the icebergs that wash up on shore across the road. After an iceberg breaks off, it flows through the lagoon, down Iceland's shortest (1km) river,  Jökulsár, and into the ocean. The currents push the icebergs to the east and the waves eventually push the icebergs back (north) on to shore. Its a pretty incredible display of nature's power.

For perspective, this is a fairly small iceberg.

This is Jökulsár, Iceland's shortest river.

The little black dot in the river in the center of this picture is a seal!!

Views of glacial fingers.

This is a second, less impressive, less visited glacial lagoon.

After visiting the glacier lagoons, we headed for a hike in Skaftafell National Park. We visited Svartifoss, another of Iceland's more famous waterfalls with fabulous basalt columns.  

We then hiked further out into the park through the alpine tundra. We were surrounded with these plants most of the time. These iPhone pictures don't really show it, but the colors are subtly diverse ranging from purples to whites to oranges and reds. They reminded me of a variation of a Pussy Willow.

After hiking, we slowly made our way back to Kirkjubæjarklaustur. There are so many beautiful sights in Iceland.

 Foss á Siðu, I believe

Near the town, the Kirkjugólf is an interesting formation. The original settlers believed this rock group to be the remains of an ancient church floor, certain that such an organized structure could not be natural. It is, in fact, natural basalt columns that all end at the same height.   

 Stjornafoss, near our hotel. 


I'm not sure the name of the restaurant, but it was tasty! L had fish and chips and I had fish stew (not to be confused with fish soup).

After dinner,we sink washed some clothes! Notice the nasty water! Ick!

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