Southern Iceland Roadtrip Part 2: Exploring Glaciers and Vatnajokull National Park

DAY 3 Guided Glacier Walk at Solheimajokull and exploring Kirkjubaejarklaustur

We didn’t have too much planned today but our guided glacier walk with Extreme Island from 11am-2pm. Meeting location was at the Solheimajokull parking lot that has a small cafe, a huge lot, and a big yellow school bus which was our specific meeting spot. Our tour was the “Arctic Adventures: Glacier Experience” which cost 9500 ISK and was labelled as an easy walk with 1.5 hours on ice, while the rest was for instructional purposes. Our guide, Simon, who can be found through the instagram handle beaverhasnoname was a spectacular guide who was fun and informative which made our experience nothing short of amazing. We first had to get our harness, ice axe, helmet, and crampons fitted and then we walked about 20 minutes to the glacier. I actually found it a lot easier to walk with crampons than I expected.

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Solheimajokull is one of the smaller glaciers in Southern Iceland, but it was strikingly unique compared to other glacier that I would see later during my trip, because this one was covered with a lot of volcanic ash. The contrast of the black and white colours and hues of blue on the glacier ice was something I have never seen before! Personally, I felt like it made the glaciers a bit more eerie while adding dimension to it. Also, the glacier seemed to have a mind of its own as it looking quite mountainous and had a lot of sharp peaks of ice.  During our tour, we were able to learn about the different types of ice, such as why ice is blue (due to lack of oxygen), moulins (circular formations where water gathers creating a vertical hole), and about the different glacier formations we saw such as huge ice crevasses. We even got to rub some volcanic clay onto our way, making a war face that many others stared at as we walked by haha! Our group consisted of my friend and I, a German family of 4, and 4 British friends which made for a small, respectable group. We even got to drink some glacier water which reminded me of tap water from home.

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And in we go…

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Inside an ice cave

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As Simon said, “An axes primarily purpose is for posing with”

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Although our tour was only for the span of 3 hours, I found myself quite tired as we made our way to Kirkjubaejarklaustur which was where our guest house was located for the night. I knew that the town of Selfoss was small, but this town was even smaller! Unfortunately, our guest house did not provide us with a kettle or any other kitchen facility so I ended up having to make my cup noodles with the sink faucet while my friend settled for another sandwich. There is one restaurant located in Kirkjubaejarklaustur but like all other restaurants in Iceland, it was extremely pricey and we didn’t fancy much on the menu. We had an early night at the Klaustur-Hof guesthouse where we were upgraded to a private bathroom in a double room instead of shared bathroom, but we were thinking it was because it was so empty haha!

DAY 4  Fjadrargljufur Canyon, Vatnajokull National Park, and Svinafellsjokull Glacier

Before check out in the morning, we decided to go for a quick hike to Systravatn, which stands for Sisters Falls. Our guesthouse was located right infront of it, and we were joined by a few others who were making the short but vertical incline towards the top. At the top of the falls, there is a quiet lake and the scenery was incredibly flat. It reminded me a bit of the day I was walking around Lake Russvatnet in Norway.

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We then ended up leaving for Fjadrargljufur Canyon quite late. Unfortunately, although it wasn’t very busy when we got there, we arrived right when the sun was at the worst point, making all our pictures extremely dark or blinding with light. We spent about 45 minutes walking around the canyon, and I personally think the best view was at the farthest observation point where you really get to experience the grandness and depths of the canyon.

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We then made our way to Vatnajokull National Park to do our mini hike to Svartifoss Waterfall. When we arrived at the parking lot, we were a bit skeptical that we had arrived in the wrong lot as there were barely any cars, but I guess since this tourist point requires a bit more walking than the usual few minute walk, we assumed it wasn’t as well visited. The walk to the waterfall took about 30 minutes and it is a gradual uphill passing by a few smaller waterfalls along the way. Svartifoss is a waterfall that is surrounded by what looks like upside down lava columns that are all hexagonal in shape. We decided to walk down to the rocks and get closer pictures with Svartifoss!

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On our way back to the parking lot, there are alternative routes to take but we decided to take the same route back since it was the shorted, a total of 1.4 km as we wanted to fit in one more stop to Svinafellsjokull. To get here, it is literally a 10 minute drive, but due to all the pot holes on the unpaved road leading directly to Svinafellsjokull, it took us about 20 minutes driving to avoid all the potholes! Although we had a Landcruiser, we could feel all the dips and bumps and we were seriously wondering how other smaller cars were making it through. Svinafellsjokull was incredibly different than Solheimajokull because green mountains could be seen in the background, and the way the glacier formed resembled rolling hills more than sharp peaks. We were not able to go directly close to the glacier but we had some good view points from above. It was also really cool to see how big the glacier actually was as we couldn’t possible see the start of it. In a sense we were only able to see the tongue of it which was slowly receding.

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For the evening, we had out stay at Fosshotel Nupar which was definitely our fanciest accommodation for our trip. Fosshotel Nupar is a relatively new hotel and essentially the rooms look like shipping containers which was what drew us to this place in the first place. The hotel is also situated in the middle of nowhere which makes it a good place to spot the Northern Lights. At check in we actually signed up to receive a knock at the door if there were signs of the Northern Lights. At exactly 9:30pm, we received a knock and rushed outside along with other hotel guests. It was my first time catching the Northern Lights and I was amazed at how it moved through the time, changing directions. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn until then that a phone simply cannot capture this beautiful light except with a special app or a DSLR was definitely necessary.  Regardless it was just nice to watch the Northern Lights in complete darkness.

I hope you have enjoyed keeping up with my blog so far just as much as I have enjoyed sharing my adventures with you!

Until next time,

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