Day 5 — Putting the Ice in Iceland

on thursday (i know, i know, i’m woefully behind on posts…tomorrow’s a travel day to the Faroe Islands, so hopefully i’ll be able to catch up a bit then), we got a healthy glimpse of what an Icelandic winter can be. whereas the prior day was full of sunshine and mild breezes, our fifth day consisted of extremely strong gusts of wind (50mph+) and horizontal rain. the storm was relatively brief, though, so we were still able to pack quite a bit into the day.

going against the park service’s warnings, we started our day with a hike to Svartifoss (Black Fall in Icelandic) in Skaftafell in the Vatnajökull National Park. the waterfall gets its name from the dark lava columns on either side…while they were quite impressive when contrasted with the frozen falls and snow, i think i’d enjoy these falls much more in spring/summer when there’s some green foliage to round out the view. the hike was relatively quick, and we were able to get off the mountain a good hour before the storm picked up.

we killed a few hours in some kind of gas station/restaurant hybrid (Iceland has very peculiar restaurant options), and crossed out fingers that our ice cave tour wouldn’t be cancelled. Vatnajökull National Park is essentially one massive glacier, and as a result there are plenty of ice caves to explore. getting to these ice caves requires some serious off-roading and river fording that surpassed both my driving capabilities and our CRV’s 4WD, so a self-guided exploration was’t really an option. fortunately there were some last-minute cancellations with localguide.is, and we were able to get some ice cave tour tickets. our guide Aron barely batted an eye at the storm, and we set off in our super jeep towards the massive glacier.

the tour itself was relatively brief (honestly, the drive through icy rivers and down 45 degree inclines was half the fun), but magnificent. i didn’t bring a tripod on this trip, so with the lack of light in the caves it was difficult to do justice to their beauty…so living vicariously through these pictures isn’t going to cut it — you’ll just have to do an Icelandic ice cave tour yourself! 🙂

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