Conquering Vatnajökull

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This is Flatey á Mýrum where the Base Camp of Ice Explorers & a few other Tours are located just by the side of a large indoor Cattle farm. They operate out of container-sized units & though not very conspicious, there are a cluster of them to look out for.
An unspoilt landscape where a colourful tapestry of moss & lichen cover large areas of exposed rock surface!
Never one to like Summer much as it is Summer all year round where I come from; I love Summertime in Iceland. There is a greater probability of seeing blue skies & rainbows on a good day & that makes me hopping crazy happy!
As we made our gradual ascent…. Wow, the sight & sound of this cascading body of glacial water thundering down slope.
A picturesque valley in full view.
We pushed ahead uphill in our gigantic snow jeep & got a glimpse of one of the 30 outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull which is interestingly streaked by volcanic ash making it look “dirty”. Eyjafjallajökull first erupted on 27 Mar 2010 followed by a second massive explosion on 14 Apr 2010 when meltwater got into the volcanic vent. Air travel in Northwest Europe was disrupted for 6 days as volcanic ash shrouded the atmosphere. A more recent eruption took place on 21 May 2011 when Grimsvötn in Vatnajökull National Park sent a plume 17km up into the air.
A cubic Basalt rock juxtaposed squarely with colourful wildflowers – Mother Nature’s handiwork!
The reslience of life, where wildflowers thrive & bloom even in the harshest of conditions & clime.
We are finally on Vatnajökull which is the largest ice cap in Europe. It stretches over an area of 7,900km² with a volume of about 3,000km².
It is a beautiful day with clear blue skies & temperatures hovering around 12°C…….a snowball fight soon ensued.
The south side of Vatnajökull is characterised by many majestic mountain ridges with outlet glaciers descending between them onto the lowlands. The southernmost part of the glacier envelops the central volcano Öraefajökull & Iceland’s highest peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur.
The average thickness of the ice is about 380m with the maximum of 950m. Iceland’s highest peak Hvannadalshnúkur (2,109.6m) is in the Southern periphery of Vatnajökull near Skaftafell National Park.
This is the Southeastern side of Vatnajökull & under this Ice cap are several volcanoes. There are approximately 130 volcanoes in Iceland, active & inactive. About 30 active volcanic systems can be found under the island & in all parts of the country except the Westfjords.
Melted snowwater drains into the North Atlantic Sea as we can see from this vantage point of Vatnajökull.
A Glacier begins when snow does not completely melt away during the Summer. Each Winter, new snow falls on top of the old snow, gradually compressing the thick layers of snow into Glacial ice. Glacial Ice which covers about 10% of the Earth’s land surface is the largest reservoir of fresh water on our planet. It may look like a solid body of dense ice but it is constantly moving very slowly under its own weight. During the warmer seasons, higher temperatures cause the glacier to melt & Meltwater at the bottom of the glacier helps to guide it over the landscape.
A panoramic view of the majestic & expansive Vatnajökull National Park which is made up of 4 administrative territories covering a total area of 14,141km². It encompasses Vatnajökull Glacier & its extensive surrounding areas, Skaftafell National Park in the southwest & Jökulsárgljúfur National Park, all in covering approximately 14% of Iceland.
Leaving my footsteps in the snow as I reluctantly trudged back to the Snow Jeep to make our descent to the Base Camp. I tasted the sweet glacial snow & will forever remember this wonderful experience & amazing day spent at the rooftop of Iceland.

I was totally clueless when I decided to come to the “Land of Fire & Ice” that it was literally the playground of so many active volcanoes; enough to make any rational and irrational person jittery. BUT danger aside….

In this geological wonderland, you can drive past wild & unspoilt landscapes that change dramatically & leave you awestruck. I have been thrilled by rainbows & waterfalls, amazed by multiple lakes, mystified by surreal grotesque lava rock formations at Dimmuborgir, impressed by basalt column rock stacks, overwhelmed by the whiff of sulphur at the desert-like terrain, frolicked at green grassy farmlands, climbed a sheer rocky cliff & ran along a beautiful black sandy beach……

I left my heart in Iceland!

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