Exploring Iceland in a VW Camper – Day 6
Tuesday 12th of September, 2017
We left Höfn campground at 8:00am and went to Flatey farm for our 9:00am Glacier Kayak Adventure tour. Flatey farm was about 40 km west of Höfn campground. We arrived to the farm and got outfitted with dry suits, boots, and gloves. They offer single and double kayaks; we chose to share a double kayak so one of us could keep the boat straight if the other was taking photos. We headed to the Heinabergslón glacier lagoon, accessible from the farm and part of Vatnajökull National Park. We rode in a modified, large SUV with massive tires to get us down the dirt roads easily. It was only about a 15 minute ride from the farm to the lagoon.
When we got to the lagoon, we were outfitted with life jackets, kayak and paddles.
The lagoon is approximately 70 years old the guide said. What is different about this lagoon, compared to the Jökulsárlón lagoon, which we visited the day before, is that Heinabergslón is not ocean fed like Jökulsárlón. This is important because when a glacial lagoon is ocean fed, the water is warmer than the air so the icebergs melt from bottom up which can cause the icebergs to flip. This is exactly what we had witnessed the day before at Jökulsárlón. Heinabergslón, on the other hand, is only glacier fed so that means the water is colder than the air. So the icebergs here melt from the top down which causes the icebergs to slowly rise. They do break and fall on occasion, but not with the magnitude or significance of those in Jökulsárlón and therefore is considered safer for kayakers. We didn’t realize that there were different lagoons but it does appear you can kayak at Jökulsárlón and may be worth investigating if you are not worried about the calving of the icebergs. The ocean fed lagoons do offer cleaner, bluer water and can be better to look at, but we are not sure how close you can get or if you can walk on them, so that is something to look into when choosing what lagoon to kayak in.
The guides gave us instructions about kayaking and what to do if you fall in. They said they had a few this year, but not recently. We were out kayaking for about a half hour until we heard a loud splash…a couple had tipped their kayak! Luckily the guides got them back into their boats fast and they were fine, and surprisingly dry and were able to finish the whole trip without problems.
We kayaked around as a group and got to a point where we could go on shore to walk around on an iceberg. It took the guides a little while to find a way to get onto the iceberg because the previous two days had been so windy, it moved the icebergs around. We also were able to go inside of an ice tunnel/tube. We learned that the tube was formed by an ash seam in the glacier/iceberg that melt water would come into contact with and melt away at the seam, the path of least resistance for the water. This melting and swirling motion of the water created the tunnel through the iceberg. As we walked through it, it was melting on top of us and creating a small little river right down the center.
The lagoon overall is approximately 30-50m deep and the glacial valley upstream is about 250m deep. It was estimated that the remaining glacier will melt away in 100-200 years from now but they say it could be faster with global warming.
We got back to the farm around noon to get out of our gear. From there, we headed to a campground in Seyðisfjörður but not before a quick stop at a roadside park for lunch. It was nice to be able to stop anywhere and fire up our camp stove that came with the van so we could cook our freeze-dried meals. While we were cooking here, we actually had another tourist family park next to us and asked us what we were cooking. We don’t think they had seen freeze dried meals before so they were pretty amazed and then asked if they could take their picture with us, which we agreed to.
As we continued on, we took some unplanned stops a few times to take some scenic photos. We saw some old abandoned farm houses and the cliffs and water along the coast. We also stopped at Vestrahorn.
At Vestrahorn, we primarily just went to get pictures of the mountain. You have to stop at the café and pay to enter. Many people say it is not worth it, but it really depends if you want to get photographs or not because that is probably what most people go there for. There is an “old” Viking village, but we didn’t go to that because it is a recreation from a movie. It would probably be fun if you had kids, but we chose not to go there. We spent at least 30-45 minutes here taking photos of the mountain as the water came in and retreated back.
From Vestrahorn we headed through a neat tunnel that went through a mountain, this was a first for us. Today was also the first time outside of Reykjavik that we saw a police car…actually we saw two this day.
We ended our day in the town of Seyðisfjörður and stayed in a campground in town. We chose this city because it was one of the campsites included in our camping card we purchased. As we were driving in, through the foggy mountains, we started questioning if it was worth this extra drive when we would just have to turn around the next morning and head out. We are glad we continued to this town because it was really cool and we wished we had made more time to explore it. When we came into the city, there was a cruise ship in the harbor. It was after 9pm at night and the city was alive and well. We went to a bar and got some beers and a lamb leg to share. The bar was open until after 3:00am, so we imagine this city is awake for a while.
After our drinks we stepped outside to head back to camp when we realized we recognized the brick path outside of the bar. Turns out, this was a photo we had just saw on Instagram while inside.
We took a quick picture and headed back to the campground, which was jam packed. Many of us were parked along the road within the park because there were no camping spots left in the field.
Read more: The Great 8 of Iceland
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