Djupivogur to the Vatnajokull Glacier

Jul 14, 2017 - National Geographic Explorer

The National Geographic Explorer arrived at Djupivogur around 7 a.m. on a grey and drizzly morning. This was much more like the ‘real’ Iceland. Unfortunately, it is not possible to get the Explorer any closer to Vatnajokull than Djubivogur harbor, and Vatnajokull being the largest Ice Cap in Europe, which covers 8% of Iceland, it is a ‘must’ to visit. So, guests climbed into two coaches and were driven along the coast to where the ice can be accessed.

One stop was at the Jokulsarlon Lagoon. This is a large lake at the foot of the Breidamerkurjokull glacier which runs down to the coast from the Ice Cap itself. Where it meets the lake, the glacier regularly calves large icebergs into the water where they float off out to the sea. One group of guests were taken by amphibious vehicle for a tour out among the ice bergs, while the other group were taken by super jeeps from the Smyrlabjorg Hotel up a dirt road cut through a large lateral moraine, that leads up to the ice cap at Joklasel. From here, this group climbed either, into a large tracked vehicle or on to a Snowmobile and were then guided and driven up onto the Ice Cap. The views were limited by being in the clouds, but there was a real sense of being in the Arctic and out in the ‘Wild’. The younger members of one group delighted in having a snowball fight with some of the older members. After the activities had finished, the groups met at the Smyrlabjorg hotel, had a very pleasant buffet lunch and then swapped over to the other activity for the afternoon.

Another, smaller group of photography enthusiasts went off in a mini bus with photo instructor Michael Nolan and National Geographic photographer Macduff Everton for a photo tour. They also went to the Lagoon and the Ice Cap and spent a wonderful day making the most of every photographic opportunity.

Yet another small group visited the tiny island of Papey island. This Island is believed to have been home to some monks in ancient times known as the Papar and right now to Atlantic Puffins. 

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About the Author

John Pailthorpe


John spent the early years of his life in London, before an inspirational teacher took him to the highlands of Scotland on a school adventure trip. From then on the natural world has been his passion. After teacher training in Bangor, North Wales, John began a thirty-year career in outdoor education centres and schools, teaching and leading children and adults in such pursuits as mountaineering, rock climbing, kayaking, and sailing throughout the U.K. and Europe.

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