Aug 20, 2017 - National Geographic Orion
It’s 5:45 a.m. and it seems just about a little too early to be hearing that Irish accentented alarm clock telling us to get up and be ready for the day. However, sure enough, most of us were out on the coaches and already on the road by 6:30 a.m. for a beautiful ride along the dramatic East Iceland coastline. Our goal for the day was to explore the mighty Vatnajökull Glacier (which is the biggest ice cap outside the polar regions and the third biggest glacier in the world) intimately by super jeeps, snow mobiles, and by boat.
To get up to the glacier lodge, which is at 800m elevation, we drove in super jeeps up a very scenic and steep route. The road was just as adventerous as driving on the glacier itself but rewarded us with some spectacular views of the glacier eroded landscape with the North Atlantic Ocean in the background. I wonder if anyone else was thinking about the fact that we were within 100 km radius of many of Icelands most active volcanoes systems... A powerful place and that thought always adds an extra layer of thrill while giving the snowmobile just that extra bit more of gas.
At the Jökulsárlón (glacier lagoon) we got into amphibian boats and explored the deep blue and sediment striated icebergs a little closer. Its crazy to think that that ice can be 1000 years old. Some of us also went down to the black sandy beach (Diamond Beach) and photographed and looked at the icebergs that had been washed ashore.
However, not everyone had a full day out on tour as some sailed out to Papey Island in the morning and learned about the Irish monks that were belived to inhabit the island at the arrival of the Norse settlers along with its fantastic and rich birdlife. We heard stories of thousands of puffins flying around which of course those of us that didn’t go out there will choose to not belive.
We come from the land
Of the ice and snow
From the midnight sun
Where the hot springs blow
The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ships to new lands
To fight the horde
Sing and cry
Valhalla, I am coming
On we sweep with threshing oar
Our only goal will be the western shore
By Led Zeppelin, 1970.
I can not belive this was the last day in Iceland—we have been incredibly lucky with the weather during our outings and have gotten a good taste for many of the different things Iceland has to offer. I will end the Iceland chapter by quoting Led Zeppelins immigrant song as I think we all have a good appreciation for what inspired this lyric.
I will be listening to this song as we sail away twoards the Faroe Islands in the same waters as the Vikings did thousand years ago.
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