Introduction

A host of spectacular, luminous-blue icebergs drift through Jökulsárlón (pronounced yokul-sar-lon) glacier lagoon, right beside the Ring Road between Höfn and Skaftafell. It’s worth spending a couple of hours here, admiring the wondrous ice sculptures (some of them striped with ash layers from volcanic eruptions), scouting for seals, or taking a boat trip.

The icebergs calve from Breiðamerkurjökull, an offshoot of Vatnajökull, crashing down into the water and drifting towards the Atlantic Ocean. They can spend up to five years floating in the 25-sq-km-plus, 250m-deep lagoon, melting, refreezing and occasionally toppling over with a mighty splash, startling the birds. They then move on via Jökulsá, Iceland’s shortest river, out to sea.

Although it looks as though it’s been here since the last ice age, the lagoon is only about 80 years old. Until the mid-1930s Breiðamerkurjökull reached the Ring Road; it’s now retreating rapidly (up to a staggering 500m per year), and the lagoon is consequently growing.