Rendez-Vous with the Giant of Ice and Fire
Vatnajökull is the third largest glacier in the world. With a surface of 8400 km2 (the same surface as Puerto Rico), a thickness that sometimes reach 1 km and its frequent under-ice volcanic eruptions make it the true giant of ice and fire. It is so huge that each of its “tongues” are themselves called glaciers. We had to see that and visited two of the most easy to access glaciers.
After a good burger and half a liter of coffee, Kioki brings us to the rough tracks leading to Höffellsjökull. As the road becomes impracticable we have no choice but to stop and use the strength of our legs. All way long can be seen various and numerous species of birds. Iceland is a real paradise for bird watching.
After one hour of walk, familiar silhouettes appear : reindeers! We then begin a new reindeer hunt. This time, the goal is to get a nice picture of the herd with the glacier as background. Thanks to Céline — the new reindeer herder –, this is a mission accomplished!
A quick hill climbing and the show suddenly begins. The huge giant stands right in front of us with an impressive lake of melted ice and floating icebergs. We now understand that the hill we just climbed a minute ago has been formed by the sole strength of the glacier pushing the ground days after day, year after year, century after century… in one word : impressive!
The other easy to access glacier is Fláajökull. The road — track might be far more appropriate — is even worse than the previous one, but 4×4 Kioki is invincible! Unfortunately the show is not as impressive as for Höffellsjökull.
We continue our trip to a place I have been willing to photograph for a very long time: Jökulsárlón. Basically, this is a young lagoon formed in the 30’s by another melting glacier — no way!… :) –. This is an extremely renown and then touristic place which makes us take the decision to leave for now and come back for the sunset.
It is now very quite. A couple of photographers and tourists are already enjoying the show but it’s nothing compared to the “crowd” — crowd in Iceland has a totally different meaning than for instance in India — we have seen this afternoon. One can hear people telling : “look! there it is!”. A seal is swimming between icebergs. Wait, no. Two seals! I am so focused on my photographs that I barely watch them for a second and go back to work. All around me is pure perfection: sounds of ice droplets created by melting ice and falling into the water, terns screaming while fishing or resting on the biggest icebergs … Everything is so genuine that I can feel like I am on another planet. Nature at its best.
A few meters away, a black beach made of thin black sand. Also a place I have been dreaming to photograph for a long time. Here, icebergs wreck on the shores to spend their last hours under the form of ice. Unfortunately it is late and Céline begins to be tired waiting for me taking the same ice piece over and over again … We decide to go back to the camping site. But those images are stronger and I decide to go back to this black beach again, despite the distance. A few more shots and the rain comes. Again. I have to resign and go back to get some sleep.
The way back is full of colors: the sun is already rising. I arrive at the camp site at 5:30 AM. It is time to rest with all those wonderful images in my head. Tonight, I do not need to dream. I already have dreamt all day long.
PS: A big thanks to the Canadians who drove us back to our car at Höffellsjökull. We were so tired that it was like a gift from the ancient gods. Have a great and safe trip!