Iceland: The Jökull (Our cruise on the Jökulsárlón)

Fortified by our delicious and varied breakfast at Hotel Halí, we packed up the car and prepared for another long day of driving.  First on the itinerary was a final stop at the Jökulsárlón.  We were determined to get out into that mass of floating icebergs so we decided to take a boat tour.  And of course, it was cold and raining.  But that didn’t stop us!

Visibility was fairly limited, but the rainy, misty, foggy air added a certain mystique to this incredible place.

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We signed up for a tour and had to wait about an hour before boarding one of the amphibious boats.

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This was the boat we were about to board:

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It had huge wheels to drive on land, so it could drive right into and out of the lagoon.

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Some of the icebergs had recently flipped over, so that we could see the shinier, more transparent recently melted ice.

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Other icebergs looked more opaque, like packed snow.  And many had black stripes, which consisted mostly of volcanic ash (there are 7 active volcanoes underneath the glacier that feeds the lagoon). We were told the blue hue is an optical illusion, having to do with ice’s prism effect, and reflecting only the blue spectrum. We learned lots of things, actually, as we had a wonderful guide on board who explained things about the glacier, the lagoon, and the ice.  (In perfect English, of course)

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Always near our boat was this hunky guy in a zodiac.  I suspect he was scouting a route through the icebergs for us, and sometimes he’d motor around in fast circles.  I don’t know if he was bored, showing off, or maybe trying to make a path for us by making waves?

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He also picked up a chunk of ice and handed it to our tour guide.  She told us some interesting facts (most of which I’ve unfortunately already forgotten) and then gave all the children a chance to help her chip off small chunks for us to taste.  Yep, it tasted like ice.  Very cold.

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We also learned that several films have used the lagoon as a featured location.  Some of the biggies include A View to a Kill, Die Another Day, Batman Begins, and Tomb Raider.  For one of the Bond movies, the production team decided to freeze over the lagoon, so they dammed the access to the sea, making the water in the lagoon increasingly less saline, and eventually it froze.  Pretty clever, I’d say.

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The boat tour took slightly under an hour.  We are so glad we went ahead despite the drippy weather.  That was certainly an experience we will never forget.

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Watch for a post with more photos of this amazing place.  Brad went back in the late evening sunlight on the night we arrived, to take photos in the lagoon and at the sea-shore…

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