HONEYMOON DAY 4 (4 DEC 2017)
Day 4 promises to be yet another day full of adventure, as we sped towards southeast Iceland.
The scenery only gets better and better in this part of Iceland – snowy mountains were always on the horizon, and the weather god has been really kind to us.
We woke up bright and early wanting to go to Stokksnes to see the famous “Batman” mountain (Vestrahorn), but were stopped short by a sign and a barricade that greeted us on the road into the Stokknes beach. The whole area is now private property, and visitors have to pay, but it was too early and there was no one manning the place. So we left the area without seeing Vestrahorn, but fortunately the surrounding landscape is already beautiful enough. Besides, the star of the show is later in the day.
As we left the area to head to Jökulsárlón, we were greeted by the most beautiful sunrise ever. The colours below were true-to-life, and we couldn’t help but to stop our car to take lots of photos.
And a quick video of the beautiful sunrise:
The slightly annoying part about this road trip was that we had to backtrack on a few occasions, because we didn’t have enough to cover all the sights along the way before it got dark.
In this case, we actually had to backtrack about 60km from our hotel in Hofn. Luckily, the scenery never got old.
We hit Fjallsárlón glacier lagoon in the late morning. Fjallsárlón is the less famous cousin of Jökulsárlón, but no less impressive.
The swirling white clouds and the huge sheet of ice in front of us formed a truly magnificent sight.
We had the whole place to ourselves, so we had plenty of time to take all kinds of photos without interference.
After fooling around at Fjallsárlón long enough, we had to head over to neighbouring Jökulsárlón for the ice cave tour. We had a bit of time to explore a side road, which turned out to be the road that our jeep for the ice cave tour would take. So that was a bit of a waste of time, but seeing the same beautiful scenery twice can’t hurt, can it.
So along the way, we stopped at the popular Diamond Beach, named for the bits of glacier ice scattered along the beach. The contrast between the transparent ice and the black sand made for a very interesting sight.
We got to the car park at Jökulsárlón in time for our ice cave tour. Our ride was a pretty big rover that could negotiate the harsh roads (filled with potholes) that led us to the ice cave.
And a video of the scenery along the way (we had actually seen it about 2 hours ago while we were exploring the area:
After about 30 minutes of driving, we had arrived at the ice cave! We put on our helmets and crampons, and headed straight into the cave which was already filled with tourists.
If you want our honest opinion, we thought the ice cave was nice, but not quite worth the exorbitant price. Granted, it’s a pretty unique sight, but the whole of Iceland is so beautiful that missing this wouldn’t have been that bad. Anyway, we checked this one off our list, albeit a really expensive one.
Had to make the most out of the winter season anyways, since the ice cave is only accessible from October to late March (sometimes a little earlier or later depending on the weather). At other times, the ice cave is either flooded, or collapsed. Just a bit of extra information: the ice cave is actually right under a sheet of glacier, which explains why the ice is blue (it’s highly compacted). The black bits however, are ash – Iceland has rather active volcanic activity, and as you might recall there was a major eruption just a few years ago that disrupted flights across Europe (despite Iceland being so far away from any other European country).
Check out the crowd and the throngs of selfie sticks!
We spent about 30 minutes in the Ice Cave (which wasn’t all that big to be honest), and continued the 2nd part of the tour which was a walk on the glacier. This glacier is significantly different from the one yesterday, in that it was a giant sheet of ice with few/no crevasses (as far as we could tell), and a couple of smaller ice caves in it. We actually enjoyed this part of the tour more than the ice cave tour itself.
We had a chance to explore a couple of smaller ice caves within the glacier.
What an awe-inspiring sight. Glaciers never fail to amaze me.
We walked for about an hour or so, and headed back down to the carpark. It was getting dark at this point (about 3pm). I still wanted to see Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon itself, and prayed that we could double back to the car park at Jökulsárlón.
By the time we got back to the visitor centre at Jökulsárlón, it was already pretty dark (although our camera made it look brighter than it actually was).
We were greeted by the sight of seals swimming among the icebergs!
There were quite a few other tourists here as well., and we asked one of them to take our photos. There was also a fairly large group of Singaporeans here. In fact, we basically saw more Singaporeans in our 9 days in Iceland, than any other nationalities (other than the locals, of course). That was reflected in the number of Facebook posts in my feed showing how many of my friends were also in Iceland in roughly the same period of time.
We had enough glaciers and icebergs for the day, and it was time to end the day’s sightseeing and set off for our hotel in the East. It was going to be a very, very long drive, so we decided to refuel at the visitor centre first:
It was a long, long drive to our hotel in Egilsstaðir, which was all the way in the East. 250 km in fact, in dark, snowy conditions. This was our first long night drive in potentially treacherous conditions, so we were a little apprehensive. Especially when you have a long, long tunnel like this to drive through, which never seems to end.
The drive was long and dark, so even though we could make out a lot of beautiful landscapes with our eyes and a bit of moonlight, it was impossible to capture it with the camera. All I recall was that the drive took us through several fjords and towns, and it was the first time we actually saw so much snow in Iceland (thankfully not on the road itself).
We finally hit our hotel in Egilsstaðir after a very long and (fortunately) uneventful drive. As usual Xiuling did most of the driving, but I also drove a good bit of it as her eyes weren’t very good at night.
Our guesthouse for the night was Smárahvammur, which at S$71 was really quite a bargain considering that it’s Iceland. No complaints about the room whatsoever, and the house was warm and cosy with a couple of other friendly travellers.
And this is the end of Day 4 – we definitely packed the first 4 days with as many activities as we could think of.
In fact, the rest of the Iceland trip from this point on was going to be just driving, stopping and ogling at incredible scenery – and that never gets old.
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