Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jökulsárlón - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

We knew that the trip to Jökulsárlón would add an additional 4-5 hours of driving time to our day.
But how can you come all the way to Iceland and not see a glacier?
As we headed further east on Iceland's Ring Road 1, the landscape started to change.  Again.

Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

We would periodically get a glimpse of the rough ocean to our right.
We started to see more and more, rolling black sand.  Suddenly to our left we caught a sight of our first glacier.
We had to pull over and take some photos.  We weren't the only ones.
There weren't many cars on the road that day, but we were leapfrogging with several others throughout the day.
There were plenty of places to safely pull over to admire the landscape.

Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

Iceland is called the land of "fire and ice" and aptly so.
Do you know what happens when a volcano meets a glacier?  Lots of water.  
We stopped at an information point to read about just such a volatile occurrence
and to see some evidence of the destruction left in it's wake.

Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

We eventually arrived at our destination, Jökulsárlón, also known as glacier lagoon.
The lagoon has developed in modern years as the glacier that feeds into the ocean here
has melted and subsided.  Chunks of ice break off into the massive lake and slowly make their way out to sea. 

Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

It's a dramatic site and the famous setting for several Hollywood blockbusters
including Tomb Raider and two James Bond movies.
During the summer, you can take a boat ride out onto the lagoon.
Unfortunately, there is no way a boat can get through in the winter. 

Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

We spent about a half an hour taking photos and investigating the pieces of ice
on the black sand beach, popping into the little cafe and gift shop periodically to get warm.

Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

The ice is a variety of colors and shades, some of it crystal clear, other chunks a milky white or icy blue.
It's mind blowing to pick up a piece of ice that is probably over a 1,000 years old.
It's also a great place for bird watching and if you're really lucky you might spot some seals.
(We didn't get lucky.)


Jokulsarlon - Iceland's Glacier Lagoon

When we were sufficiently cold and wet, we loaded up into the car, clicked on those seat warmers
(I love those things!) and drove to our hotel for the night,
relishing the views of the south coast of Iceland just as much the second time around.

That first day in Iceland was our longest day of driving at about 12 hours total from the airport to glacier lagoon and then back to our first hotel in Hveragerdi. But, we knew once that was over, we would be able to relax and slow down the next day.  And it was absolutely worth it. 

The Practical Information - Should I rent a car in Iceland?

As we were planning our trip, a big decision was whether or not to rent a car.  Looking back, we both agree, it was the best choice for us.  

We felt very safe.  The roads we traveled on were all well-paved and clear.  There were a few one-way bridges to navigate but not much traffic. We took turns driving and the Skoda Octavia we rented was perfect.  Hertz provided us with a map and a website to check for real-time weather and road conditions.  

The cost of a car rental was comparable to booking individual tours.  The car rental was £260 for three days (without the discount) and gas was approximately £120, so a little less than £400 total.  If we had booked transfers and tours for everything, we would have spent about £400.  So, not a big difference unless you have more than two people.

For us It was worth it to have the flexibility and freedom to go at our own pace and do exactly what we wanted to do, when we wanted to do it.  You miss out on some interesting commentary when you don't have a guide so we had to spend more time researching everything for ourselves, but that's part of the fun.

I'm particularly glad that we had the car in Reykjavik.  The city is spread out and it was pretty cold and windy.  If we'd have been on foot, we wouldn't have seen nearly as much of it.   

Renting a car was the perfect  choice for us.  Who doesn't love a good road trip?

  
Which do you prefer in Iceland, renting a car or booking tours?


  
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In partnership with Visit Iceland, we received a discounted rate from Hertz Car Rental Iceland.
 All photos, writing and opinions are my own.
As always, I promise to be open, honest and transparent with my readers.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

27 comments:

  1. That vibrant ice blue! What an interesting landscape, I hope to visit someday myself. Thanks for the virtual tour?

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  2. Suzanne (Travelbunny)March 5, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Gorgeous shots and fab post Selina! I want to go back in summer and see everything I missed on my 3 day trip - I'd definitely hire a car next time.

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  3. Amazing, we didn't make it up that far on our trip but we so want to go back and explore that area more!

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  4. WOW! Your photos are amazing, Selena! I had always read that glacier ice was actually blue and not white and now I see what that meant!
    Thank you for sharing so many details of your Iceland trip, I want to go so badly!

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  5. The blue ice is gorgeous. Glad you took the extra drive so I could see ;)

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  6. It's gorgeous! I didn't know that that was where the Tomb Raider scene was filmed. (I love that movie.) My husband has really been interested in Iceland since we moved to Europe. It will probably be making the list of "must visits" before we leave. :)


    Brittny
    www.awrittenjourney.com

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  7. When we travelled round Iceland we had a hire car and, because it was summer, we did the boat trip on Jokulsarlon. Magical experience. It is still probably the best holiday we've ever had.

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  8. did you find out what makes the different colours of the glaciers? I might research it now, they almost look fake! I would definitely rather rent a car in a place like iceland, so you can take your time and stop where you want. In bigger cities we've rented cars and not used them, so I think it def just depends on where you are going and what you want to do.

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  9. The colour of the ice is spectacular!

    I think a rental car is a good idea, maybe takes the stress out of getting around if you did not have it. I do not drive, but when I've visited Italy, we had one as it made it easy for us.

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  10. Wow, these photos have blown me away. Iceland just looks amazing and I want to go right this second!

    We always hire a car now when we're going to a small city or outside of a major city (like when we go to Ibiza) as it's just so helpful for us to get around to wherever we want to go & since we tend to stay in self-catered apartments now, we can go grocery shopping without having to worry how we are going to get everything back!

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  11. You are so welcome, Liene. I'm really glad we made the decision to drive the extra hours.

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  12. Thanks so much, Suzanne. I think we'll have to go back again, too. I'd love to go during the summer months! Isn't it amazing?

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  13. It was a long day, but worth the effort. Such a fun road trip. :D

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  14. Thanks so much, Irene :D I hope my photos do it justice. You should definitely plan a trip. Even if for a long weekend. It's so worth it!

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  15. Thanks, Jessica. As an American I was thrilled to see so many ice cubes in one place. ;)

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  16. Brittny, I'm so glad that you commented. A pleasure to meet a fellow expat. I've followed you on bloglovin and will be stalking on instagram to see about your adventures. Iceland is fantastic. You should definitely try to visit!!

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  17. Wow, that's saying a lot! I think in the summer it will be even more wonderful. I can see us going back again someday.

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  18. I think it has to do with the amount of air trapped in the ice, but not exactly sure. Did you find out with your research?

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  19. I haven't driven in about two years so it felt so good to get behind the wheel!

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  20. We need to try the self-catered apartment. I've heard so many good things, but too chicken to just do it. What company do you use to book?

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  21. Thanks Selena! I'm really enjoying both this and your Morocco series. :)


    Brittny
    www.awrittenjourney.com

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  22. We usually just search for apartments on booking.com or Travel Republic but I'm keen to try out AirBNB next as I've heard good things.

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  23. From some things I read it was about compression, so the older ones were different colours than the younger ones, but seems there's no definite answer!

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  24. Beautiful photos of the ice - the blue ones are especially striking. When i went i did tours which were great but if i went again id proably hire a car for the flexibility.

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  25. I think you learn so much more when you do the tours. Especially if you have a really good guide. It's a trade off. We were really in the mood for a road trip. Thanks for commenting!!

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