Glaciers in Iceland

The glaciers were hands down my favorite thing in Iceland. Top of the list.  The thing I immediately say when people ask me what my favorite thing was.

Glaciers.  Hands down.
Iceberg in Jokulsarlon, Glacer Lagoon
Iceberg in Jokulsarlon, a Glacier Lagoon
Why?  Because they are ancient, majestic, and a little scary.  Because they were overwhelming.  And if you held your breath and there was a quiet moment, you could hear them thinking.  I swear.  There was something about them that was other-worldly.  I could of been on another planet or in another dimension.  I know, the cold might have gone to my brain, but there are moments where a place feels holy.  I hold onto those moments.  I had one of those moments at Svinafell Glacier. The world seemed to be holding it's breath....

Svinafellisjokull and Lagoon
Svinafellsjokull and Lagoon
On my recent trip to Iceland I had a chance to visit two glaciers and two glacier lagoons.  The glacier lagoons are at the snout (edge or end) of the glacier.  The melting glacier forms a lagoon and parts of the glacier break off forming icebergs that float and eventually melt in the lagoon.

**Fun fact:  Did you know you only see 1/8th of an iceberg above water?  That might of been why the Middle Sister was worried when we took a boat ride in a Glacier Lagoon (video below).

And to keep the educational part of the program going, here is a little more information about the glaciers I saw in Iceland:
  • All glaciers were part of the Vatnajokull ice cap and in Vatnajokull National Park. 
  • Vatnajokull is an ice cap that "feeds" outlet glaciers.
  • About 11% of Iceland is covered in ice caps and glaciers.
  • Glaciers need to be thick enough to sink and move under their own weight.  The glaciers in Iceland are receding and a glacier there recently lost it status as a glacier because it no longer fit this criteria (insert sad face here...).
Vatnajokull National Park and me; the Iceland Ninja!  Photo by Maureen
Vatnajokull National Park and me; the Iceland Ninja!  Photo by Maureen
I visited Iceland with a group called GeoTours (review coming soon) and we had two days where we explored glaciers. The weather on those days was wet, cold, and overcast.  It actually made for some beautiful photos.
GeoTours group at Svinafell Glacier.  Photo by Matt Ebner
GeoTours group at Svinafell Glacier.  Photo by Matt Ebner
The areas we visited were:
  • Svinafellsjokull (glacier)
  • Skaftafellsjokul (glacier)
  • Fjallasarlon (lagoon with icebergs)
  • Jokulsarlon (boat ride past icebergs in lagoon)
GeoTours group at Svinafell Glacier.  Photo by Matt Ebner
Selfie at Svinafellsjokul

Mo at Svinafellsjokul
Mo at Svinafellsjokul
Tips for visiting glaciers:
  • Dress in layers.  It was cold, and it was summer.
  • The Svinafell Glacier had the shortest walk to access, but I would recommend taking a glacier hike with a guide if you want to WALK on the glacier.  Guided tours included everything you need to safety walk on the glacier.
  • Wearing hiking boots was a good idea when walking to Svinafell glacier. I wore them for all my trekking to view the glaciers and was glad.  Skaftafell glacier has a big black sand beach that you needed to trek to access it.
  • If possible, take a boat ride in Jokulsarlon at the Glacier Lagoon.  This was MY FAVORITE thing in Iceland.
  • The Jokulsarlon lagoon has an inlet at the ocean.  Check the black sand beach to see if any icebergs washed up there.  The tide was coming in when I was there, but next trip I plan on spending a lot of time in this area and am going to check the tides to see icebergs on the beach!
 The Middle Sister and I were making short videos we posted for our family during this trip and below I have put all the Glacier videos together.  If you have a chance, I highly recommend seeing the glaciers in Iceland.

Glaciers of Iceland- June 2015 from everyAugust on Vimeo.

Let me know if you have any Glacier tips or questions in the comments below.

Enjoy the journey!

**This is part of my Iceland adventure in June 2015.  Read more about it HERE.**

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