Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon And Iceland's East Coast: Our 10 Day Campervan Trip - Day 4
In this 9-part series we'll give you an in-depth, no-fluff account of our trip around Iceland in a campervan. We had our itinerary for the entire 10 day Ring Road adventure well-planned (some may say even over-planned, but we say there's no such thing when your destination country is jam-packed with must-see places and your time is limited) and yet we had to tackle a few surprises along the way. After all, this was our first ever campervan trip (we'll jump ahead and say that we are totally hooked now! #vanlife).
Day 4: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon And Iceland's East Coast
Day 4 of our campervan road trip in Iceland was quite possibly our favourite one (I know, I know... We've probably said that before about some of the earlier days of our trip). Although they may not have been as spectacular as those in Iceland, we have seen mountains, waterfalls, and black sand beaches on our previous travels. What we have never seen in our lives prior to this trip were the glacier lagoons. And that's exactly what was on our itinerary for this day!
Knowing that Jökulsárlón lagoon is one of the most popular tourist destinations with tour buses bringing in hoards of people hourly from Reykjavik, we set out on our way early in hopes of beating the major crowds. By this point, we had our morning routine all figured out: have a very quick breakfast, turn our bed in the back of the campervan into a couch again, boil water for our instant coffee that we would take on the road with us in our insulated mugs (they kept our coffee hot for hours, helped us stay warm in the chilly Icelandic mornings, and doubled as our rum and coke glasses at night - you definitely need one for your trip!). We are not early risers, so it was important for us to come up and stick to a routine that would let us get on the road and start exploring as quickly as possible.
While Jökulsárlón lagoon is very well known and heavily visited, not a lot of people are aware that just west of it, as you drive along the Ring Road, you pass by another glacier lagoon, no less breathtaking than Jökulsárlón. The name of this lesser known lagoon is Fjallsárlón, and, I swear, we loved it even more than Jökulsárlón! OK, I have to admit that we got to it early in the morning and we were the only two people there. Having the still milky waters of the lagoon, with its mind-blowing blue icebergs, and a breathtaking glacier in the background all to ourselves definitely added to the experience. We even watched a seal lazily swim around the middle of the lagoon and a bunch of sheep strolling around on its shore. I can't find a better word to describe our experience at Fjallsárlón other than awe-inspiring (as cheesy as it may sound).
Fjallsárlón lagoon wasn't even on our itinerary (simply because it's missing from all the itineraries we've researched prior to our trip, but now you're in on the secret!). As is the case with so many beautiful places in Iceland, you don't know they exist until you stumble upon them as you drive along. We ended up spending quite of bit of time here, simply enjoying our solitude and absorbing the power and beauty of nature that is on full display at Fjallsárlón.
Tip: Try to get to Fjallsárlón as early as possible in the morning. Being the only people at the lagoon adds 1000 points to the whole experience.
We stopped at the Diamond Beach before heading to Jökulsárlón lagoon. There were quite a few people there already, but the beach is long and you only need to walk a little to get away from the crowds. Diamond Beach is a black volcanic sand beach with a scattering of Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon icebergs that wash up on its shore. When the light is right, these icebergs truly look like giant diamonds!
Since we made an unplanned stop at Fjallsárlón (soooo worth it!), by the time we got to Jökulsárlón lagoon we had trouble finding a parking spot. There were so many people! The lagoon is jam-packed with icebergs of that incredible milky blue colour that we will now forever associate with Iceland.
After a visit to Jökulsárlón we were officially done with Iceland's south coast and continued our drive along the east coast. It took us about an hour to get to our next destination - Vestrahorn, or the "Horny" Mountains.
Vestrahorn is one of the only two natural attractions in Iceland that you have to pay to visit (the other one is the Kerið volcanic crater lake that we stopped at on our first day). Vestrahorn mountains have recently become very popular with photographers and the land owner started charging a small admission fee to let people drive through the property. Unfortunately, on the day that we visited Vestrahorn, it was overcast and the heavy clouds hung low in the sky obscuring the view of the mountains. However, Vestrahorn admission fee also includes a visit to the replica viking village that was created in 2010 as a set for a movie that was never filmed. It's about a 10-15 minute walk to the village from the parking lot but the scenery is beautiful and the walk is very enjoyable.
We've only ran into one other couple in the village and enjoyed roaming the village and admiring all the intricate details that went into its construction all on our own.
From Vestrahorn we continued our drive along the east coast towards our campsite where we would spend the night. For our 4th night we chose to stay at Fossardalur Guesthouse campground due to the good reviews we've read online. It turned out to be a small campsite in a very scenic and peaceful setting. We had some daylight left in the evening after we arrived so we went exploring around and tried to make friends (yet again) with the numerous sheep hanging around in the fields.
We settled down for the night still in awe at all the natural beauty we've encountered on our travels that day and feeling grateful to have experienced and seen things we've never had before. Iceland is truly a magical land!