Another unforgettable natural beauty in Iceland is Jokulsarlon, meaning “glacial river lagoon” in Icelandic. It is also commonly known as the Glacier Lagoon. It is about 230 miles (about 400 km) east of Rejkjavik.
Before coming to Iceland, this one was on top of my list. Just looking at the pictures of floating icebergs looking like giant Swarovski crystals shimmering under the light was enough to dream about what I will be seeing.
After exiting the ring road of Iceland, Route 1, we park our car. (We did rent a campervan from a similar site to Rent.is, but we also rented a car to drive around and explore so we took the car to ensure safety on the roads) Gail and I put on our thickest sweaters and jackets since we assume it will be very cold on the boat. You can already feel the temperature difference when you are near the lake. We are a bit upset since it is a cloudy day. The pictures may not come out great. I try to capture this magnificent beauty as best I can.
I think the whole boat ride is like a dream. I have never been this close to any iceberg, let alone on a lake completely covered with hundreds of them. The crispness of the air matches the crisp look of these giant sculptures that nature has carved for a thousand years. The colors are unbelievable. Some icebergs are opaque and some are semi-transparent, letting the light softly pass through their bodies. All shades of sweet light-blue colors play with the lights and blend into the pure whiteness of the chunk ices.
These icebergs constantly break off the Breidamerkurjokull glacier, an outlet of the Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Europe covering 8% of Iceland. They slowly sail into the sea through a short river.
Our guide tells us that the lake was the setting for two James Bond movies (“A View to Kill” and “Die Another Day”), and also for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Batman Begins, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and Beowulf and Grendel. She then picks up a chunk of ice and passes it to the passengers. We are all excited. Touching a chunk of an iceberg ice transforms you to what it was like a thousand years ago when that piece of ice was formed. Now, I feel part of that history.
The Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon’s surface is at sea level, salty sea water flows into the lagoon at high tide bringing seals, salmon and herring with it. We love the Eider ducks swimming in one of the most spectacular lakes that I have ever seen.
Renee Blodgett’s Iceland’s Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon article in Huffington Post gives a good summary of how this lagoon is formed:
“The Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is one of the most amazing natural wonders of Iceland and one of the most popular attractions for travelers to visit. The lagoon started to form in 1934 when the glacier started to retreat in the area. In 1956 the size of the lagoon was 4,5 square kilometers and in 1975 the lagoon had reached the size of 8 square kilometers. Today, the size of the lagoon is estimated to be around 25 square kilometers and it’s constantly getting larger as approximately 500 square meters of ice break off the glacier every year. Jokulsarlon is the deepest lake in Iceland with maximum depth of 260 meters in front of the glacier edge.”
If you visit, make sure to take a walk to the black sand beach where the short river meets the ocean carrying melting icebergs into the sea. You will see amazing ice blocks sitting on the black sand beach. Unfortunately, we missed the beach part. I will save that for a later visit.
Unfortunately, the Breidamerkurjokull is melting rapidly, more than 100 meters every year. It is estimated that there is a 21 km fjord under the glacier soon to be totally visible.
Hope you enjoy the pictures.