We woke up early to get a start on our day. We had a long drive ahead of us and wanted to try and beat the crowds to the glacial lagoon!
We drove a few minutes outside Kirkjubæjarklaustur to check out a natural occurrence called kirkjugólf, or the ‘Church Floor.’ When I stepped outside the car, I was hit with the coldest, most bitter wind I had ever experienced! I quickly slipped on all my outer layers and we power walked down the icy path to view the attraction.
We were worried it might be covered and unviewable, but soon found it amongst the snowy path. We learned that the columnar basalt outcrop was created when cooling magma contracts and it’s always perpendicular to the cooling surface. It was really cool to see! Most of the other basalt columns we saw on our trip were too tall to view the top or walk on.
We drove another 10min and quickly got distracted by a gorgeous waterfall on our left! After finding a pullout to park in, we realized that there was a path and that we may have stumbled upon the pathway to see Dverghamrar (which was already on our list of things to see!)
We followed the path down some rocks and it opened up to an amazing gorge filled with basalt columns and a perfectly framed view of the waterfall. We spent some time exploring the area in solitude.
We decided it would be best to drive straight to the glacier lagoon and then stop at other attractions on the way back to the hotel, so we hopped in the car and made the couple hour drive out east.
Wowy wow. The glacier lagoon took my breath away (and not just from the bitter cold!). We parked by the beach and walked over a ridge to see miles of ice chunks just sitting on the beach and washing up with the waves. So unreal.
We spent some time wandering and weaving in-between the ice. It was really entertaining to watch all the tourists almost get taken out by waves because they were so busy posing with their backs to the ocean!
We crossed the road to the other side and marveled at the icebergs in the lake. Unfortunetly, the wind and cold was a little too much for me and we left shortly after.
With half our day gone, we continued driving until we saw a car driving up a promising pullout. It was an incredibly bumpy road, but we decided to check it out. The potholes on the road were enormous and we realized it was going to take us a while to make it to end, but it was too narrow to turn around, so we kept on driving. I’m so glad we did! We ended up finding a path that led to an amazing view of the vatnajokull glacier. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
“It would be awesome to see a chunk of ice just break off right now” Danny said, as we stared across the vastness of it all.
“nah, it’s probably too cold for that now” I replied.
Just then, we heard a terrifying CRACK that sounded like distant thunder. It was quickly followed by the sound of ice crashing into each other…and while we didn’t actually get to witness it, we sure felt the power behind it. I keep saying that the land that makes up Iceland has magic in it, and this was just one instance where we felt it.
Our next stop was at Skaftafell National Park. It was a couple hours out from the sun setting, so we knew we had to make the most of our hike there.
The famous waterfall in the park is Svartifoss. It is surrounded by lava columns and is quite an impressive sight! Unfortunetly for us, it was extremely icy and slippery when we went. The trek down to the waterfall looked very dangerous and we saw many people who were clinging to the path and crawling down. We decided to just admire it from afar and then turn back.
We choose a different route back to the entrance of the park and were rewarded with streams, solitude from the crowds, and an amazing spot to hang out watching a different waterfall.
Exhausted, we decided to head back to our hotel, but naturally, we got distracted by one more photo opportunity along the road. Totally worth the stop.
We promptly fell asleep after arriving back at our hotel, but it wasn’t for long! We got a phone call at 10pm saying that the Northern Lights were showing!
We rushed outside and was met with the most amazing and inspiring sight I’ve ever seen. The lights danced around the sky and I was mesmerized. The colors and intensity of it kept changing. It was really the perfect ending to such a crazy day filled with wonder.
Up next: Geysir