Jökulsárlón: Sailing Among the Icebergs

Depending on the time of year, it may be challenging to find actual ice in Iceland.

Photos of floating icebergs at Jökulsárlón remind people that despite the rolling lava fields and lush green landscapes in the summer months, there is in fact quite a bit of ice around the island. A few Nordic Visitor employees (i.e., those nice people below) recently went on a Ring Road inspection trip and stopped off at the gorgeous glacier lagoon.

Nordic Visitor at Jökulsárlón

Icelandic travel experts Þór (aka Thor), Linda Ýr and Alex. While Nordic Visitor provides the detailed itinerary, emergency travel helpline and road map with all Iceland self-drive tours, the flag is completely up to you.

At Jökulsárlón you can view glacial landscapes up close with chunks of ice scattered about and towering walls of ice jutting up from the sea. It’s a unique and spectacular sight that begs to be photographed. The picturesque glacial lagoon is situated at the southern edge of the Vatnajökull glacier and is regarded as one of Iceland’s greatest natural wonders. The lagoon is not very wide, but it is up to 250 metres deep, which makes it the deepest in Iceland.

Jökulsárlón ice, by Linda Chandler

Jökulsárlón ice, photographed by NV traveller Linda Chandler. The blue colour of glacial ice is the result of oxygen compression over many years.

Huge chunks of ice regularly calve off the glacier and make their way to the sea via the glacier lagoon. The icebergs vary in size, shape and color and float along the icy water. Some ice makes it to shore and the images are striking-clear ice resting atop black sand and stones.

Icebergs on the beach by Jökulsárlón (Photo: Michael Howe)

Pro tip: go across the highway from the lagoon to meander between large icebergs on the beach. (Photo by NV traveller Michael Howe)

If you would like a closer look at the icebergs, there are tours available on amphibious boats from May to October. The view from the shore is special, but boat tours onto the lagoon to navigate the maze of icebergs is unforgettable.

Jökulsárlón amphibious boat

It takes a special vehicle to ferry passengers from land to lagoon at Jökulsárlón. Hence the amphibian boat.

During the excursion, you sail among the huge icebergs, get to taste the 1,000-year old ice as a guide breaks off a piece of an iceberg, and if you are lucky, you may even spot some seals bobbing in the lagoon.

Seals at Jökulsárlón

Seals take a break from swimming in the glacier lagoon. (Photo by NV traveller Michael Howe)

Jökulsárlón is a popular destination throughout the year and a memorable one. A word about safety, though, the water in Jökulsárlón is frigid and the icebergs flip and roll on their own without warning, so please do not wade into the water or attempt to climb on the ice. Enjoy from a safe distance!

Peaceful moment at the glacier lagoon

Regardless of whether you take a boat tour, plan to spend a good amount time at Jökulsárlón. (Photo by NV traveller Susanne Frei)

So, you want to experience these icebergs?

We don’t blame you. While making your way to Jökulsárlón you can see some gorgeous south Iceland scenery on the side!

Check out one of Nordic Visitor‘s most popular Iceland tours to experience unique natural attractions, including the famous glaciers:

Have something else in mind? We’re Iceland travel experts. Let us know what interests you and we’ll put together a customised itinerary to your liking!

Mark Lewis - East Iceland

Photo of the Month: Autumnal Iceland

“When is the best time to visit Iceland?”

If only there was an easy answer for that.

Although Iceland‘s chilly name may put some people off the idea of visiting outside of summer months, it is indeed a fabulous destination year-round.

This month’s Nordic Photo of the Month winner proves that you don’t need to cram all your travelling into June, July or August. Continue reading…

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Like Sheep and Tradition? Join Iceland’s Annual Réttir

Every September, Icelandic farmers embark on the annual tradition of scaling mountains to collect their sheep before Iceland‘s long and dark winter sets in. The sheep roundup, called réttir, is one of the most important events in Iceland’s countryside, and one that welcomes tourists.

sheep roundup in Iceland, called réttir

The coming of autumn marks one of Iceland’s most important countryside traditions, the “réttir”, or round-up.

Iceland’s sheep freely roam the mountains and fjords during the summer, basking in the long sun-filled days, while seasoning and fattening themselves with lush lichen, moss and grass. In the autumn, entire rural communities gather for one weekend to stake their claim on their sheep, and celebrate with friends, family neighbors and visitors.

The sheep are rounded up in a wooden sheepfold, consisting of an inner and outer circle with several compartments between the two. Each compartment is assigned to a particular farm for their sheep. Each farm has its own earmark symbol and the farmers and friends herd the sheep into separate pens.

Icelandic sheep with horns

Sheep, while left to roam at large in summertime, are often spotted grazing along roadsides or crossing the highway. Watch out for them while driving in Iceland! (Photo: Tom Tauber)

During this time, sheep are trotting about, baaing and bucking, while carefully being sorted. Visitors will see farmers and children mounting the backs of ewes and rams to guide them to the relevant pen. After all the sheep are sorted, the farmers and guests share a cup of coffee and maybe a slice of cake while others walk along the sheep, take pictures and pet them. Farms are welcoming more tourists and are happy to share this annual tradition.

Icelandic sheep by a fjord

Sheep are a staple of the Icelandic diet, including some rather unusual delicacies eaten during the traditional Þorrablót celebrations in January.

Food is also big part of réttir with special dishes making their way around the farm as well as sending the unfortunate lambs off to the slaughterhouse. Réttir is a reminder that fresh lamb meat will be on the way. The meat is used for everything from traditional meat soup, lamb chops and hot dogs to Icelandic specialties including slátur (liver sausage) and svið (singed lamb heads).

Sheep are the lifeblood of the tiny North Atlantic island of 330,000 people, not just for nourishment and a source of income, but for their thick and warm wool. Icelandic sheep are a unique breed as the purity of the strain has been protected and preserved by centuries of isolation. Indeed, the breed has evolved over 1,100 years of surviving in a sub-Arctic climate producing long and tough outer fibers and soft and fine inner fibers. Colors of the breed vary. There are over 30 natural sheep colors, including yellow, black, and brown, but most Icelandic sheep are white. The bright white coats can be seen dotting the countryside in the autumn.

Ewe with her lambs

You have these woolly fellows to thank for those “lopapeysa” sweaters you love so much. (Photo: Alice Friedenson)

The natural benefits of the wool are unique to the breed as well. Icelandic sheep are known for having warm, lightweight, breathable and water repellant wool. Iceland’s wildly popular woolen sweaters, called lopapeysur, can be seen on tourists and locals strutting the streets of downtown Reykjavik as well as the countryside.

So, you want to meet these fluffy Icelandic sheep and maybe see some gorgeous scenery on the side? We don’t blame you. Check out one of Nordic Visitor‘s popular self-drive tours to experience all that rural Iceland has to offer:

Have something else in mind? We’re Iceland travel experts. Let us know what interests you and we’ll put together a custom itinerary to your liking. We’ll even advise you where to buy the best handknit woollen sweaters in Iceland!


Photo of the Month: Icelandic Honeymoon

When Ekaterina Kozhevnikova and her husband visited Iceland this summer, they were treating themselves to a very belated honeymoon and captured a photo that melted the Nordic Visitor team‘s hearts.

The Russian couple, who live and work in the UK, travelled on a customised version of Nordic Visitor’s Iceland Full Circle tour, which includes stops at popular areas like the Golden Circle, Snæfellsnes Peninsula and Mývatn. Ekaterina combined her love of travel and exploration with her anniversary celebration for some beautiful snapshots on her Instagram account. And for that, she is our Nordic Photo of the Month winner for September 2016.

To get the story behind the photo, join us for a Q&A session with Ekaterina below…

NV: Why did you choose Iceland as your holiday destination?

Ekaterina: I chose Iceland for our anniversary, because I always dreamed of coming to such a diverse country. Iceland is the country of fire and ice, where icebergs are very close to hot volcanic earth. We love hiking and nature, and we love place where there are few people. So Iceland was the only choice.

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NV: Were you planning to visit the Secret Lagoon or was it recommended to you?

Ekaterina: I planned our holidays along with Silja, our Nordic Visitor travel consultant, and explained that I hoped we could visit a geothermal spring or pool every day and the Secret Lagoon was on the list she provided.

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NV: What was the day like?

Ekaterina: That day was rainy and getting cold, so after visiting the Geysir area, we were cold and wet and not really looking forward to soak even more under the rainy sky… But, after our early dinner (yes, because of awful weather), the sky has cleared a bit, our mood improved after a yummy meal and we decided that we will regret it all our life, if we miss this experience.

I always plan my trips, trying to get the most from them, so I brought with me my “wedding dress” (short white beach dress), tiara and a bow-tie for my husband. After already soaking in the lagoon for 10 minutes, I realised that were not many people around and it was the perfect time for taking photos. So, I told my husband that I’m going to take my camera (by the way, it’s a huge Nikon DSLR in a usual PET bag to avoid extra moisture, looking very silly among the people with tiny GO-PRO, but I didn’t care, the result was worth it!).

When I came back in my ‘wedding’ outfit, I surprised not only my husband but the few people around and even caught some applause And it helped a lot to relax the atmosphere in the pool and even start some conversations with absolute strangers (everybody was surprised to learn that it’s our 20th anniversary, that we weren’t “just married”. I did very little editing, because the old house, grey sky and the steam made this picture very special already.

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NV: Would you say Iceland is a good honeymoon destination?

Ekaterina: I would definitely recommend Iceland for other honeymooners (for my daughter in the future, definitely!!). There are so many things that can be done only in very rare places on Earth (whale watching, visiting volcanoes, hot geothermal pool swimming, tasting shark meat, glacier walking, etc.) and Iceland can give you all of them in one unforgettable trip!

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NV: Any tips for photographers visiting Iceland?

Ekaterina: I love photography and always take my camera (even 2) with me. I would advise everybody to take a spare battery and spare memory card, because there is so much beauty in Iceland, you can shoot non-stop and exhaust you equipment very fast. For the whole trip I shot 52 Gb of photos!

Thanks and congrats, Ekaterina!

Pro tip: …. like the 66 North Vatnajökull primaloft jacket and Surtsey cap that our Photo of the Month winners receive as prizes.

Good to know: A self-drive tour in Iceland gives you the freedom to choose your own photo stops and spend as much time at each place as you want…or as long as your other half can patiently wait for you to set up the perfect shot. Nordic Visitor can even custom-make your own road trip if you have specific areas or attractions in mind.

Have you travelled with Nordic Visitor and want to be in the running for our Nordic Photo of the Month contest? Tag your travel photos with #NordicVisitor to share them with us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter!

Read all about this contest here

Reykjavik Pride Weekend

Friday Photo Roundup: Festive Times in the Nordics

We here at Nordic Visitor don’t let our travellers have all the fun — after all, just look at where we live and work!

In this week’s edition of Friday Photo Roundup, we’re following the fun-loving staff of Nordic Visitor on their adventures in Scotland, Sweden and Iceland. Come along for the ride! Continue reading…