This morning we woke around 9:30AM to a camping stub under our windshield wiper, so we did end up having to pay for our spot. However, it was only 2400ISK ($21), and we got the most amazing map of all of Iceland from the camping center – totally worth it. We did our morning routine, Katie treated herself to some toast (there was a toaster in the camping center!) and I had my go-to banana and peanut butter sandwich, and onward we went to Jokulsarlan (which was a short drive compared to our past endeavors!).
Here is Roo at our camping site that morning and a couple scenic driving pictures on route to Jokulsarlan:
On our way we found a beautiful abandoned barn, so we pulled over to check it out. I wore my sneakers (mistake – it was swampy and my shoes got soaked, luckily I was able to dry them pretty well with Roo’s heat) and we went exploring!
We made it to Jokulsarlan around 12:30PM, and it was the first “crowded” place that we had seen yet! There were maybe 30 – 40 people there, but that’s a significantly higher number than what we were used to seeing. Again, it wasn’t really advertised, just a parking lot off of the side of the road. We walked around the glacier lake (this is what Jokulsarlan is famous for!) before going into the visitor’s center to sign up for a boat tour.
It was 4000ISK for one ticket (around $35), but we were glad that we did it, of course. While waiting for the rest of the boat tour group to arrive, Katie and I (mostly me) killed the chips and salsa, I wrote a little, and Katamus made some phone calls.
You can see our boat-car in the upper right hand corner of the picture above. We drove it into the water! Our tour guide was a young, French dude and he told us a ton of cool stuff about the glacier lake.
Our tour guide took a smaller iceberg out of the water and held it while he spoke to us for a bit. He then explained that this iceberg could be 1000 years old (!!!) and proceeded to break it into smaller pieces so that we could all taste the 1000 year old ice! It was fresh water, but it had a different taste to it.
After our tour, we went back into the visitor’s center and relaxed for a while. We were officially ahead of schedule, so we decided to drive to Vatnajokull, a national park that we were supposed to visit the following day. Being ahead of schedule is a treat. Since we were able to get to the park and explore on this day instead of the next, we wanted to rent Roo (or another SadCar) for an extra day so that we could spend more time in the country’s capital, Reykjavik.
On route to Vatnajokull, we passed another beautiful waterfall and pulled over to explore (there are tons of waterfalls on Route 1, but this one was especially beautiful).
My pictures don’t capture them, but there were pure white birds flying and nesting all around the top of the fall. It was nothing short of gorgeous. I also snapped this picture 🙂 (I love the sheepies!)
We made it to Vatnajokull around 3:00PM and were exhausted. One day in Iceland consisted of so many activities! Thus, we decided that we would take our time on a shorter hike and then relax and shower (turns out you have to pay to shower and the visitor’s center was closed after we had finished our hike). We went into the visitor’s center and found a map (it was 350ISK) with the hikes on it. We didn’t pay for it, we just looked at it, and I snapped a picture of it and the man behind the desk got angry with me and told me that I was stealing from him! I understood where he was coming from, except that the same map was blown up and posted all around the park. The woman behind the desk looked embarrassed, and I showed him my pictures and deleted the map in front him. He must have been having a bad day. We decided on hike “S2,” and it was a wonderful hike indeed. It led us to another incredible waterfall surrounded by nature.
We made a hiking friend, Charlie, who lives in Los Angeles. He was traveling Iceland by himself, and he hung out on the top of the fall and explored an abandoned cabin with us. He told us that we had a lot to look forward to in our future travels to southern Iceland. He spoke very highly of Vik, a town about 1.5 hours away from Vatnajokull, so we decided that we’d head there in the morning.
We bid adieu to Charlie and crossed the water (Katie did so gracefully in her rainboots and I not so gracefully in my snowboots) towards a patch of soft, open grass. Once we got there, we laid down and dozed. The glaciers to our right, the waterfall to our left, and the sun warming us from every angle, we felt wonderful. I don’t know how long we were there, but it was the perfect amount of time.
Afterwards, we headed back to the visitor’s center to see what food was available. I got another cup of veggie noodles, some Skyr, and a “Viking Lettol,” which is a light beer. Katie splurged and bought herself the same beer, a Skyr, and some cured lamb meat which was prepared by a farmer about 2km away. The woman from behind the desk found us an apologized about the man who accused us of stealing, that was very sweet of her. We sat outside and of the cafe (it was closing), and ate our goodies. I tried a small piece of the lamb – I could tell that if I hadn’t been a vegan/vegetarian for so long that it would be tasty; however, it did not taste very good to me.
Bellies full, Roo decked out for the night, teeth brushed, and bladders empty, we were ready to hit the heigh and continue to Vik in the morning.