Black sand beaches! Jökulsárlón lagoon! Aurora! More glaciers! The exciting conclusion to my three days in Iceland.
Our last day in Iceland was our best weather day and so we took advantage by seeing ALL THE THINGS. First up was Jökulsárlón lagoon, probably the most famous attraction in southern Iceland.
Huge chunks of glacier break off and float into the glacial lake that leads directly into the ocean via a narrow channel. Some of the ice washes up on shore, littering the black sand beach with big ol’ chunks of glacial ice. We checked out the lake side first and spotted some happy blorpy seals sunning themselves.
After we were like, soooo over the glacier and mountains and seals, we headed on over across the street to the black sand beach. Dozens of tourists hovered awkwardly over interestingly shaped ice with their DSLRs (I might’ve too….).
Hanging out a good long while, possibly taking pictures of every piece of ice on the beach, we headed back to Skaftafell for another hike. We took quite a bit of time at Jökulsárlón and so we decided on a relatively short hike to a glacial viewpoint called Sjónarnípa.
Thinking that a short and fairly easy hike couldn’t possibly lead to an amaaazing view (shouldn’t we have learned our lesson by now?) we were SHOCKED AND AMAZED when we got over the final hill and were welcomed with an expansive view of the Skaftafell glacier. To our left we saw miles up the glacier tongue, and to our right was the expansive glacial moraine. David, an Iceland veteran, concluded that the view was more awe-inspiring in wintertime, so I guess I can never go to Iceland in the summer 🙂
We drove back to the hostel for an early dinner in hopes of catching some decent sunset/twilight conditions.
Heading back to Jökulsárlón beach at sunset, we were greeted by hoards of photography groups wading in the water with tripods in tow. Trying to capture the perfect picture of waves breaking over the ice blocks, I joined in on the fun, although not necessarily very successfully 🙂
After my hands were too frozen to operate the camera effectively, we headed back towards the hostel, keeping our eyes on the sky. The aurora predictor gave the night’s chances a 2/9 and we had to wake up at 5am the next day, so I let David stand outside and try to take star pictures while I packed up our stuff and got ready for bed :D. Eventually he gave up and we went to sleep at a reasonable hour.
About an hour or so later we heard a knocking on our door. Confused, I answered and our hostel hostess told us there were northern lights outside!!!!! Rushing to get some layers on, we ran outside with the other guests. Everyone was standing in the driveway, staring at the sky. Only faint stripes of green were visible to the naked eye, but I tried taking a long exposure and BAM! Much colors. Myself, David, and another hostel guest with a tripod stood outside for over an hour taking picture after picture, gleefully looking at the bright colors captured in the ~30 second exposures. I’m not positive whether or not the aurora can look so colorful to the naked eye in different conditions, but if anyone is in the know and wants to share their knowledge, please do!
Well after midnight we called it quits and tried to settle back into bed after seeing the ##*$#@$ northern lights, y’all!!!!
Our drive back to Reykjavik the next morning was a little sleepy and a little snowy (I definitely recommend an SUV with studded tires) but we made it alive and in time for our flight. And thus ended a magical and scenery-packed 3 days in Iceland.