Friday, 25 July 2014

Day 81: Djupivogur to Svinafellsjokull - Fri 25 July

Day 81: Djupivogur to Svinafellsjokull - Fri 25 July
Grey misty start today. Sheep look and act more like (Angora) goats, sensible enough to run away from traffic, and hang in small family groups not flocking together. Have dense wool, and flat bladed horns, coloured cream, black, brown, mostly with big twins still suckling. 

And - what a joy - an abundance of birds (grass, fresh and sea water) divers, ducks, geese - far more prolific and more varieties than we've seen in Europe to date.

Harlequin Duck (female much less showy….)

Greylag Geese heading for the water
Common Redshank

Waterfalls, cairns, ooh – haven’t seen columnar basalt that's been hurled sideways before! High ridged mountains, fish farms and reflections in Berufjordur. 

Wildflowers, yellow daisies, dandelions, purple bells, blue stars, white stars, fine yellow stalks, droopy white flowers blown open like fine cotton on stalks grow in marshy areas. Blunt sheared-off rock faces, huge boulders in shallows, all characteristic of glacial movement. 14º mid morning - we continue to be amazed we have been blessed with good weather for so long. Pine and birch forests planted, natural disasters have left terrain barren otherwise (glacial drift, snow melt, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions) 

Pyramid mountain

Awesome sight!

Glacial moraine - black silt

Magnificent scenery - our enthusiasm for Norway as number one choice of country to date is being well and truly challenged! Glacial moraines - wide deltas of ground-down, rounded silver-grey rocks, and rushing opaque water finding ways between and over. Natural rock walls left, where rest eroded away by punishing forces of nature. Unusual to see sheep/ goats getting feet wet feeding in lush, boggy low expanses where fjords meet sea.


Stopped on black beach at base of Bulandstindur, the pyramid mountain rising straight from coastline, Black Guillemots nesting on monoliths.

Black Guillemots distinctive red gullet and tongue!

Took 4WD road to Hoffell to see bottom of Skalafellsjokull, a "finger" of Vatnajokull the largest glacier in Europe (it covers one eight of Iceland) - amazing sight, so much bigger than the one we climbed up to see in Norway.  Fascinating to see original reach and how far back it had retreated. Turned up windy potted track to get to another glacial extrusion past high lake that had been dammed for hydro power, but driving ever higher into descending cloud and didn't want to get caught up there for rest of day. 

Back on Ring Road 1 to ice lagoon at Jokulsarlon formed at base of Iceland’s tallest volcano, Oraefajokull glacier - absolutely stunning. Took amphibious boat ride to see floating icebergs, (seemed kinder than by zodiac). Ice was three colours - blue (new, only colour that can't absorb), black (picked up silt/debris along way), white (old, changed through mixing with air/oxygen). Tasted 1000 yr old ice! Saw seal in 5º waters of lagoon.

Sucking on 1000 year old ice!



Nearby bird nesting/resting field – terns and Black-Headed Gulls. Watched busy Snow Bunting breaking up and feeding corn-chip to its demanding chick.

Arctic Tern
Snow Bunting family

Eurasian Oystercatchers

Crossed road and drove down silt plain down to beach, fascinating to see chunks of ice pounded by waves on shore.



Soup for late lunch, then on to third glacial extrusion at Svinafellsjokull, a river of deeply fissured ice. Prominent, sobering notice about dangers of walking on ice (including quicksand!), and a plaque to two young tourists who went missing, bodies never found. Decided to camp night, joined by two more vehicles. Long day - added water to a hiker’s instant meal and ate something resembling Thai chicken curry....

Might be pony sized, but Icelandic horses are hardy and long lived!

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