Iceland’s Reynisfjara Beach And Vatnajökull Glacier…
On day of 4 of our Iceland Adventure Nick had us up bright and early in order to grab breakfast (which was included) and depart from the hotel by 8am. Being a great guide, he had very good reason to get us on the road because our first stop was Reynisfjara Beach, which proved to be one of our favorite spots of the trip. This magnificent black sand beach which we found is also the setting of “The Wall” in our favorite show, is full of incredible basalt pillars called Reynisdrangar, dangerous wild waves and surreal lava rocks which are eerily reflected in the water. We were given the same advise by Nick that I have given my children hundreds of times, NEVER turn your back to the ocean. Reynisfjara Beach ReviewsAs incredible as this beach appears it has been the site of several tragic drownings which are immortalized on the entrance plaque. We tried to be careful but the rocks beckoned to be climbed and the ocean mesmerized us and left us giddily running up to the edges taunting the waves and fate. Thankfully, the most adverse event of the morning was that two of the girls got hit by the infamous “sneaker waves” and got their pants, boots and feet sopping wet. Remember, we told you to bring water proof clothes & shoes and keep an extra pair of socks in your bag.
We spent at least an hour on that glorious beach before Nick had to quite literally drag us away. Our next spot was Skaftarhreppur, another fairytale like site where volcanic lava once flowed into the ocean, taking so many years to cool off that magical moss grew on top of the lava covering it in various shades of emerald greens. The small hills and crevices look like the perfect setting for hobbit homes or filming another Lord of The Rings movie. This stop only required around 30 minutes but was well worth whatever detour Nick took to get us there. We made another quick stop at Skaftarhreppur, which as you may guess is a waterfall but this one was only long enough to snap a photo. It was after 11 and our crew was ready for lunch!I don’t remember where we stopped for lunch but there are several areas with rest stops along the way and we were in a hurry to make our appointment time for hiking on the glacier. Our original tour was booked for an ice cave that had unfortunately flooded with warmer temperatures but Arctic rebooked up with a slightly different tour and most of us would not have known the difference. We arrived in Skaftafell visitors center which serves as the base for venturing into the park. Vatnajökull glacier is the largest in Europe and covers 8% of Iceland. Its average thickness is 400 m/1312ft of ice. We started our tour by getting fitted for crampons, being handed a small ice ax which was mostly for show and having to rent proper hiking boots for $10, because our snow boots did not provide adequate ankle support. After getting outfitted with our gear we were put on a large jeep for the 20 minute ride up to the base of the glacier. Skaftafell VatnajokulThe actual Vatnajökull glacier tour was around 2 hours and we made our way rather slowly, as some of the tourists in our group were not prepared to hike in crampons up the glacier. Claire our guide was very structured and knowledgeable. As there have been accidents, falls and several deaths on the glacier the tours take extreme precautions to keep everyone safe, which include walking in a slow single file line. For those of us accustomed to more vigorous activity this was rather painful and I would have preferred to pay extra for a smaller group so that we had more time to explore the area around Vatnajökull glacier instead of waiting for all the people in the group.The glacier itself was magnificent and yet heart-breaking because you can see first hand the effects of global warming with the rapidly melting ice, lack of accumulation and warm temperatures in February. The area in which we hiked is predicted to be completely gone in 3-5 years as the earth continues to warm. We had an amazing learning experience as Claire explained the reason that the glacier appears covered in rocks, the shifting and moving plates, the melting water and many other interesting tid-bits. Our final stop on the hike was the highly anticipated ice cave which was truly incredible.We made our way down and had time to snap some photos as well as take in the beautiful blue colors unique to these formations. We ended the tour with another 20 minute ride back to the visitors center before making the drive to a different “Country Hotel”. This one was not as nice as the first nights as the rooms were smaller and the food was lower quality, however we enjoyed a fun and relaxed dinner with Nick and our three new friends after which he was kind enough to give me a short interview on his favorite things about Iceland. We fell asleep just as quickly as the previous night and felt incredibly grateful to have experienced another magical day in Iceland.
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