We woke up to a drive of about 70 kilometers to the east to reach Skaftafell where the much looked forward to glacier walk was to start. However, we could get a spot only in the tour that started at 2 PM.
Not known for sitting at one place, we used the time to drive 60 kilometers, further to the east to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. The icebergs were in various forms and shapes. They reminded us of our visit to Antarctica (South Pole) and North Pole-Alaska, USA.
The Jokulsarlon icebergs are an outcome of drops from Vatnajokul, the largest glacier in the country. There were hundreds of small and large icebergs happily floating in a lagoon formed between the glacier and the Atlantic ocean. Most of the icebergs were twinkling and blue. The blue hue meant they had been compressed for long; the twinkling indicated their urge to break free from the long burden of compression. They were slowly drifting to their destiny, the ocean, just a few hundred meters away.
We watched the icebergs for a couple of hours, as long as we had before the glacier walk tour.
As luck would have it, there was some confusion. We were left behind. The bus carrying the group had left about 5 minutes ago. The organisers were good enough to concede to our request and arranged for another bus to get us to the group. Our walk was on Virkisjökull glacier around Skaftafel. We hired special protective shoes, crampons, ice axe and metal hats. During the glacier walk, the guide went into details of how glaciers formed and dissolved.
The glacier was a fantastic introduction to the unique, enthralling world of ice, traversing the spectacular but easy tracks of the Virkisjökull glacier. We started with a short walk along the glacier valley where we were told about the features of the retreating paths of glaciers and their surroundings.
After the short walk in the valley, we approached the Virkisjökull glacier. We strapped on the crampons and started climbing the icy slopes. The ice axe was handy in case we slip. Nishi was given a protective harness too. On the way, we witnessed the incredible ice formations and small ice crevasses. We were told that the glaciers reshape continuously and their looks change week after week. We reached the awe-inspiring ice fall. It was a spectacular view. The ice fell hundreds of meters off the mountain-top and flowed down, as if in slow motion, towards the ocean. The journey of the glaciers to the ocean never completes in full form as global warming continues to melt the snow on its way.
We were at Eyjafjallajökull region. It is the volcanic eruption which caused enormous disruption to air travel a few years ago. From 14–20 April 2010, the eruption threw ash and smoke clouds to 8 kilometers up in the air. It led to a complete closure of commercial air traffic in 20 European countries for 6 days. It affected about 10 million travellers. It created the highest level of air travel disruption since the Second World War. The disruption within Iceland continued till May 2010 and was officially declared over, only in October 2010, when snow on the glacier stopped melting.
In Iceland, there have been regular eruptions, thereafter. Of late, a group of well-placed observers have warned the world about the possibility of a next major volcanic eruption in Iceland in 2015. Even the Government cautions visitors of the possibilities of volcanic eruptions while we are there.