Iceland Itinerary - Part 3
For our last full day in Iceland we ventured out as far as we could for a day trip. We decided to book another tour because having not rented a car but wanting to see as much of the country as we could, we knew this was the way to go. From all of the research I had done, I knew I wanted to get to Jökulsárlón (the Glacier Lagoon) and Diamond Beach but didn't know if doing them in one day was possible until colleague who had just done a long weekend in Iceland a few months before mention this amazing Ice Cave tour she had gone on - and that made the decision easy for me. Within probably less than a day and having read a few Trip Advisor reviews, we booked the Ice Cave Express tour with Goecco Eco Tours. YOU WILL NOT REGRET THIS TOUR!!! Just under a year later and I'm still thinking of the Icelandic music played on the tour bus and our awesome tour guide - that's not to mention the absolutely unbelievable things you will see and do.
We started the day meeting at 6:45 AM outside of the Hallgrímskirkja church to board our bus. The tour is pretty big (our bus was completely filled) but the guides still make it feel like a small group if you are looking for a more intimate experience. Our first stop was at a bakery outside of the city to pick up some breakfast (the next food stop was dinner so we stocked up on both breakfast and lunch). On our way again with snow coming down pretty hard at this point, we made our first stop at Skogafoss, a beautiful waterfall about 2 hours outside of Reykjavík.
The next stop as we made our way down the coast was Reynisfjara Beach with it's basalt formations and columns (pictured below). The other thing that makes this beach so unique and honestly pretty scary are the waves. The tides tend to change quickly here and the waves are really powerful and have caused a number of deaths! So we kept our distance..
By the time we were leaving Reynisfjara Beach and heading East we had basically seen everything we could in terms of weather in a three hour span of time. We had clouds, rain, snow, wind and finally - sun. We drove through Laki Lava Field and the black desert of Skeidarasandur which were completely awe inspiring (especially the moss covered lava) and the only thing I would change about this tour is not being able to stop to take a quick picture.
By the time we arrived at Diamond Beach it was mid afternoon. We had some time to see the big chunks of ice that give this beach it's name and then walked across the road to Jökulsárlón which most people know as the Glacier Lagoon.
Both Diamond Beach and Jökulsárlón are stunning but in very different ways which is weird since they are across the street from each other. Diamond Beach is just so unique with the black sand and rocks and chunks of ice floating in the water and laying on the sand but Jökulsárlón is truly inspiring! To see this huge lake with glaciers just floating in it was really an experience and completely worth the early wake up and 5 hour drive to get there. At this point the sun really made an appearance for us and we were so happy to get some pictures!
Next up was the Ice Cave tour. To be honest, we had booked the tour for pretty much everything but the Ice Cave part of it. Not that we weren't interested, but we were just more excited about everything else. But the Ice Cave didn't disappoint either. We transferred into these four wheel drive trucks (below) made for off road driving and drove over what seemed like another planet to make it to the entrance of the ice cave. The drive in itself was such a fun experience.
We got our helmets and ice picks on and entered the cave in Vatnajökull Glacier. It was so calm and serene inside and everyone kind of just walked around as if wondering where they were. It really felt like we were on another planet during this entire day.
After the ice cave we started our long journey home. In addition to a quick dinner stop, we also had a night stop at Seljalandsfoss Waterfall which was really cool to see in the dark. We had a little hiccup here where our bus broke down... but luckily after an hour of our driver and tour guide transforming into mechanics, our bus was up and running and the delay actually gave the auroras time to make an appearance! So it all worked out for the best for us. The aurora borealis or Northern Lights wasn't strong the night we saw them but for a first timer, we were just happy to have gotten a glimpse. And I guess that means we'll have to make it back somewhere North in hopes for a stronger showing someday.
I can't say enough what an incredible place Iceland is. I will definitely be back someday and I'm really counting down until the time I book another trip. Whether you only have a long weekend or a week, it's a place that it totally worth the trip and somewhere that will probably continue to get more popular among tourists as word gets out.