Through time, glaciers have formed on land on this planet. Today they play an important role as an indicator of global warming. Maybe a wise thing, to pay them a visit while we still have them?
‘Sitting on the top of the world’. It feels almost like that here, sitting on a deck enjoying the view. Behind us, one of Europe’s largest glaciers stretches out. In front of us, melt water finds its way out towards the sea and forms a delta of sorts on its way. It glistens in the sun. Life is good.
When we parked at Jökulsárlon and saw Vatnajokull stretch down into the lagoon, it wasn’t really enough for us. We wanted to see more. That’s why we took the 4×4 to pay this icy giant a real visit. From Jökulsárlon we drove northeast until we came to the F981. Here our Dacia Duster really came into its own. It climbed up the bumpy and steep road to the glacier.
Just like the slopes, our expectations rose. The drive itself was awesome, but when we rounded a bend and finally had the glacier in front of us there was a big “Wow!” in the car. Vatnajökull covers about eight percent of Iceland’s land mass and despite the fact that we only saw a tiny part; it was nevertheless an impressive sight from where we stood.
When we parked at Jökulsárlon and saw Vatnajokull stretch down into the lagoon, it wasn’t really enough for us. We wanted to see more
Under Vatnajökull, several volcanoes are hiding
We drove to the top where we are sitting now. Behind us lies Jöklasel, a simple hotel and restaurant. It is locked up and closed today. We are out of season. The part of the glacier we see is called Skálafjellsjökull and you can explore it with a guide. Aside from a pair of snowmobiles, we don’t see anyone here right now, but there are indicators that someone is somewhere out there on the ice. We have just skirted along the edge ourselves. We have great respect for glaciers and act carefully around them.
Under Vatnajökull, several volcanoes are hiding, including Barðabunga and Grimsvatn. An eruption from these can cause devastating flooding. In 2014, eyes were on the Barðabunga volcano as noise and tremors took place somewhere far below the ice. Fortunately, nothing came out of it. People could breathe again. Air traffic in Europe too, with the outbreak of the volcano Eyafjallajokull in 2010 fresh in the mind.
We inhale the fresh and clear air. Apart from the wind, it is dead quiet up here. We could sit here for a long time, but we have to get back down. The rest of Iceland (and more adventure) is waiting.