Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon: icebergs at arm's length
- What is Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon
- Helpful information
- What else to see near the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon
‘The land of Ice and Fire’, ‘the land of thousand rainbows’ – there are so many names in Iceland. Literally, its name is translated as ‘an icy country’. A trip to Iceland can be compared to space tourism due to the alien-like landscapes. One of such unique natural wonders is Yokulsarlon Lake located at the foot of the glacier Vatnajökull.
What is Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon
Translated from the Icelandic, Yokulsarlon means ‘an ice river lagoon’, from which the lake got another name – the glacial lagoon. Back in 1903 an extreme point of Vatnajökull Glacier was located at a distance of 200 meters from the sea. In 1934, as the glacier began to slowly recede from the Atlantic Ocean coast, the formation of the lagoon was initiated. Leaving the lowlands, it left behind a huge block of ice and melt water.
With the growth of the Icelandic glaciers melting the lake rapidly increased in size. Today, its area is about 18 sq. km, while in 1975 it was only 8 sq. km. Yokulsarlon lies about 1.5 km from the ocean coast, and its depth is about 250 meters – at the moment, it is the deepest lake in Iceland, with the reservoir boundaries are constantly expanding.
In winter the lake freezes and blocks the icebergs on the spot. Huge blocks of ice, about 30 meters high, are constantly drifting here. Some icebergs seem like rocks with volcanic ash from the ancient eruptions which partially covers them. In the winter, at the coast of the lagoon there are lots of seals catching fish. Seabirds in huge quantities are circling over the glacial lake, hunting for trout, salmon, herring and other fish.
Yokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon is located near the Icelandic Ring Road, and cars with tourists moving between Höfn and Reykjavik, usually stay near the lagoon on a special parking lot.
You may enjoy the wonderful views of the glacial lagoon all year round: there is relatively warm summer with the average temperature of 12 Celsius above zero, while in winter it is usually kept at 0 - 2 Celsius. The winters can be windy and rainy, so it is recommended to take waterproof outer clothing and shoes.
Travel agencies arrange jeep and snowmobile tours to the glacial lagoon. In the period from May to September, you can enjoy 30-minute boat trips between the drifting icebergs that will leave unforgettable impressions. In the summer months, in the eastern part of the lagoon a small restaurant is open.
Where to stay
The nearest city to the lagoon, Höfn, is located 80 km away. Planning to explore this Icelandic miracle, you can stay at one of the hotels or guesthouses in Höfn, and there from go on a tour. Per night at the guesthouse in a quadruple room with shared bathroom you will pay about EUR 140 for two persons.
But there are options closer to the lagoon – 13 km from the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon and 70 km from Höfn, there are several nice guesthouses: Hrollaugsstadir, Gerdi v / Hala, Skyrhúsid Guesthouse. The rate per night for two is about 100-130 Euros. Benefit: Yokulsarlon is located just in a 10-minute drive, and some rooms offer picturesque views of the glacier Vatnajökull or the Atlantic Ocean.
How to reach the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon
The lagoon can be seen when you drive along the Icelandic Ring Road. It stretches between the Skaftafell National Park and Höfn, to the south-east of the country. From Höfn, the trip takes about 50 minutes (60 km), from Reykjavik – 4.5 hours (almost 400 km).
You can get to the lake, as already mentioned, with a tour group, and independently by car, moving along the Ring Road 1. While travelling independent in Iceland, remember that it is better to rent a SUV as driving a mini-car on many roads in Iceland is banned, and consider the weather conditions.
Bus tours with a boat trip over the lake cost about EUR 150 per person, jeep tours – UER 240. The price usually includes transfer from the hotel and an English speaking guide. Excursions are arranged in the warm season: from April to October.
What else to see near the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon
Traveling on the Route 1 in Iceland is impressive: on the way to the lagoon you will see a lot of interesting attractions:
- Skogafoss Waterfall, one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland, originating from the Eyjafjallajökull glacier;
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall falling from a height of 60 meters is a truly magnificent spectacle;
- the volcanoes Hekla, one of the most famous and active in the world, and Eyjafjallajokull, shocked the whole Europe with its eruption four years ago;
- the glaciers Myrdalsjokull and Vatnajokull, the largest in Iceland;
- Skaftafell National Park, the second largest in Iceland, with the waterfall Svartifoss and active volcano Grimsvotn.
Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon is the most photographed attraction in Iceland. This is almost a typical arctic landscape repeatedly appeared on the covers of various magazines and even served as a movie set. Today, the glacial lagoon landscapes can be seen in four Hollywood blockbusters: two films about the adventures of James Bond (A View to a Kill and Die Another Day), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Batman Begins. In addition, fabulous landscapes of the Lagoon can be seen in the reality show Amazing Race and several commercials.