Jökulsárlón: The Glacial Lagoon

So after a very long, but very beautiful drive along the south coast of Iceland – I finally made it to Jökulsárlón.

In case you missed last weeks post, here is a little background information about the stunning Jökulsárlón.

Jökulsárlón is an enormous glacial lagoon situated below the Vatnajökull glacier in south-west Iceland. This lagoon is a direct result of Earths warming temperatures and subsequent glacial melt. In this lagoon, calving from the glacier results in short term icebergs. Most of the icebergs in the lagoon are melting very rapidly, which has created this incredible lagoon which in the not so distant past – did not exist.

Once arriving at the lagoon I was pretty amazed by how beautiful it was! So many shapes and colours littering the lagoon – something new and beautiful at each turn of ones head.

I loved the way the glacial water gently lapped at black sand, and how the clouds appeared to be slicing the sky in two.

On this particular day I had forgotten to bring a neutral density filter for my camera, which was a shame, as my 12-40mm lens is a very bright lens, and there was so much sun and so much light that a filter to eliminate some of the brightness would have made a big difference in the quality of the photographs produced! However, you and live and you learn, and now I never forget to bring lens filters with me everywhere!

There are several companies located at the lagoon who operate boats and will take people out on the lagoon to see more of the icebergs and they are absolutely worth doing.

Hot tip: bring sunglasses! On sunny days the reflection off the water can be quite uncomfortable for naked eyes.

Many of the icebergs seemed to have developed quite uniform lines and angles, which makes sense. The water here isn’t subject to ocean currents and as such, there would be no waves to cause inconsistent melt.

I have said it before, and I will say it again; I am obsessed with all things wintery! Ice, snow, rain and freezing cold all appeal to me in ways that summer weather doesn’t, so I was pretty enamoured by all of the different icebergs, and could’ve spent all day (and night) looking for new ones.

The view of Vatnajökull sitting above the lagoon was pretty spectacular too.

Some of the icebergs looked almost soft and powdery.

While others looked extremely jagged and sharp.

From some viewpoints, the mountains behind the ‘bergs were what stole the show.

Having people in the background of some shots really helps to show just how large these chunks of ice are too.

After my boat trip into the lagoon ended, I spent quite a while just wandering along the typical (for Iceland) black sand shoreline and admiring the lagoon, the icebergs and the sense of quiet and peace that such a beautiful place afforded me.

Then just as I was packing up my things and getting ready to start the long drive back to Reykjavik, I saw something out of the corner of my eye…

Can you spot it?
Can you spot it?

Look at the above photo – can you see something in it that is a bit out of the ordinary?

If not – try and find the small ripples on the lower left and mid quadrants of the frame.

See it now?
See it now?

Yep, those little ripples are seals!

Apparently there are a small amount of seals who enjoy the protected environment the lagoon provides and can occasionally be seen from the shoreline!

I couldn’t get as close as I wanted to, but to be fair, I probably wouldn’t consider anything less than donning a drysuit and jumping into the water with them as close enough! However, just seeing the two of them popping up out of the water, diving down and twirling themselves around as they played was pretty amazing, and made what had already been an amazing adventure, even more incredible.

T H E   L O W D O W N
Getting to Jokusarlon: Drive the ring road south west from Reykjavik
Wildlife: Apparently the seals can be seen all over the lagoon so keep your eyes peeled at all times
Jökulsárlón Boat Tours: There are a few different operators, Extreme Iceland run the amphibious boat tour for 4500 ISK ($50 AUD) and Ice Lagoon Adventure Boat Tours run the more expensive but more fun Adventure Tour for 7000 ISK ($78 AUD)
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 12-40mm M.Zuiko pro lens
Remember: To bring sunglasses, warm clothes and neutral density filters for your SLR!

Lastly, I have created a new page on the menu called ‘Where Next?’, where I will be keep a regularly updated list of the places I will be exploring in the coming months. Please feel free to check it out!

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

51 thoughts on “Jökulsárlón: The Glacial Lagoon

      1. I’d love to go there to see the Northern Lights, but will have to wait until I’ve got final year out of the way! Lots to look forward to though having seen your photos!

      2. When will your final year be over? The next winter is predicted to be the last great year to see the northern lights in quite a long time (due to much more solar activity over the past few years than usual) if you could get there in December/January you that would be amazing!

      3. Is this next winter as in 2016/2017 not the one we are currently in?
        I’m going in september, which I know is on the cusp of Northern Light season, but many Icelanders have told me September is a great month to see the lights, because it’s getting to be darker, but you have the clear skies as well.

      4. Yep this next winter 2016/17 (as far as I am aware). I was in Iceland in September to see the lights and got several awesome shows! Have you considered a side trip to Greenland? The lights are beautiful in Iceland but are far more vivid (like what you see in pictures) further north into the artic circle (such as in Greenland).

  1. Lovely post – you got great weather! I actually have a post on my blog about doing this journey from Reykjavik and back in one day – crazy!
    I also got engaged at Jokulsarlon – so it’s a special place for me!

    1. That would’ve been a totally crazy hectic day! Did you do the drive yourself?
      Oh wow – what a wonderful place to get engaged – you’ll have to go back one day and relive it 🙂

    1. Glad you are enjoying! In several days I will be posting a rather in depth guide to travel in Iceland so hopefully I can be even more helpful 🙂 What is on your itinerary thus far?

      1. We’re staying mostly in Reykjavik but will be exploring the waterfalls and geysers in the area. We’re heading to the black sand beaches and the glacier lagoon. We’re also hoping to make a trip out to the abandoned airplane. Our last night will be relaxing at the Blue Lagoon!

  2. Great images! It was cloudy the day we went and I got a great image of a small cairn someone had built of beach stones with the ice in the background. Also, there was someone in a dry suit out there paddling around on a surf board (not a SUP). Cheers!

    1. It’s going steady – I don’t think I will be the winner though – too much tough competition! I will make it to Antarctica regardless though! Hopefully at the end of 2017 🙂

  3. We visited Iceland last summer and I’m really enjoying a virtual re-visit thanks to your blog. The glacier lagoon (and nearby icy beach) is definitely a can’t miss spot when visiting Iceland. Knowing how crowded it can be, I really appreciate the great job you did with your photos to give the impression that you were all on your own (except for the seals). We were told that the white, softer looking icebergs had the same side exposed to the sun for a long time, while the turquoise-coloured, more jagged ones had recently flipped so that the side that was underwater became exposed to the sun. Did you hear the same thing?

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