After raising anchor yesterday afternoon, the captain and crew successfully navigated National Geographic Explorer across the North Atlantic from the Faroe Islands to Iceland. Navigating through the fog in the morning hours, clearing skies greeted the ship at breakfast as we sailed into the harbor at Djúpivogur (Deep Harbour).
For our first stop in Iceland, guests chose from a variety of activities to explore the southeast coast of the country.
Many guests had a firsthand introduction to the flexibility necessary for expedition travel. We intended to travel by motor coach past Vatnajökull to Jökulsárlón, a glacier lagoon on the southern coast. Unfortunately, when the busses arrived, we were greeted with hurricane force winds. This severe weather event prevented our exploration of the lagoon. After a delicious Icelandic lunch, our local tour operators arranged permission to visit Hoffellsjökull, one of the many outlet glaciers that comprise Vatnajökull National Park. We took a brief walk over the terminal moraine that marked the end of the glacier 30 years ago, and we were met with a spectacular view of Hoffellslón, glacier lagoon. From this vantage point, we could see the dramatic retreat of the glacier in recent years. Several other stops to view the rocky coast were enjoyed by those who chose to brave the blustery conditions.
Other guests stayed in the community and surrounding countryside of Djúpivogur. One group hiked Hálsar, a local mountain, and visited a rare and unique landscape…a forest! This particular forest was planted approximately 70 years ago and is a truly unique environment for a country with very few trees. The other hiking group explored one of the local black sand beaches, and everyone was treated to spectacular views of Bulandstindur Mountain. In the afternoon, guests from these groups were privileged to explore the small community of Djúpivogur. They enjoyed a local musical performance inside a giant tank that was originally used for storing fish oil, followed by a chance to visit Bones, Sticks and Stones, a local collection of rocks, minerals, bones, and other unique finds.
While guests and many of the staff were exploring above the sea, our expedition divers and undersea specialists Emmett Clarkin and Clara Fuquen took to the sea. During evening recap, they shared video and images of their undersea exploration near Djúpivogur.
As we close the day, we are sailing north, looking forward to reaching the Arctic Circle tomorrow!