(Photo above: Me at the base aka tongue of the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier in Iceland)
On my third full day in Iceland in April 2011 I booked a tour with Reykjavik Excursions to see the South Coast of Iceland. I was picked up bright and early at 0830 at my hotel and taken to the Reykjavik Excursions bus depot to meet with my group and my lovely tour guide Haldo.
The trip I had selected to go on was a tour of the South Coast where we would visit a couple of waterfalls, the small village of Vik, a museum and a glacier. We were also sharing the bus with people who were on a tour called “Walk on the Ice Side“. Not knowing about the option where I could go walking on one of the glaciers, but also realizing that my worn Chuck Taylors may not be up for the task I was a bit sad that I wasn’t doing that however my tour was way beyond expectations and I enjoyed it a lot even without ice walking. I actually went and stood on part of the glacier after I realized this just to say I did…sooo… ya I did it…right?
We started with a long drive through the lava fields… well lets face it all of Iceland is a lava field. Haldo had a lot of great history and facts about Iceland for us like the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier that we would be visiting retreated 134meters in the past year, which just shows you the great impact that global warming is having on the world.
Along the way to the glacier we passed many fields full of Icelandic horses, mountains and volcanoes including Eyjafjallajökull the Volcano that wrecked havoc upon Iceland and flights to Europe in 2010. (Eyjafjallajökull is actually the name of the glacier on top of the volcano Guðnasteinn however for some reason everyone just seemed to refer to it as Eyjafjallajökull not sure why…). We finally made a left hand turn onto a bumpy gravel road with a million potholes, curves, ups and downs and finally we were at Mýrdalsjökull. Mýrdalsjökull is the 4th largest glacier in all of Iceland (FACT: 12% of Iceland is covered in glaciers) however when I saw it, it was looking very different then you would usually expect.
(Photo above: Eyjafjallajökull center/left with the snow on top)
When Eyjafjallajökull erupted in 2010 it spewed tonnes and tonnes of ash covering all of the land and its neighbor volcano Katla and its glacier Mýrdalsjökull. More than a year later and there is still all of this black ash everywhere, in the crevasses, flowing down the ice with the melting water, just everywhere. I actually stuck my hand under a dripping part of the glacier and along with the fresh cold most amazing water I’ve ever tasted there was bits of ash, but I drank it anyway. Apparently the melting water from the glacier will continually bring down over 100 tonnes of ash with it a year. (FACT: Eyjafjallajökull is actually three Icelandic words put together Eyja = island, fjalla = mountain, jökull = glacier)
The ash didn’t really ruin the glacier though, it actually highlighted and showed me all the cracks and crevasses that if the ash hadn’t been there I probably wouldn’t of been able to see unless I was close up. The ash kind of gave Mýrdalsjökull a bit of character.
Although Mýrdalsjökull is nice to look at, a very scary volcano lies beneath it called Katla. Katla, one of the largest volcanoes in Iceland, has not erupted since 1918 (aside from two mini eruptions in 1955 and 1999 that didn’t even break the ice) but the scientists have 16 eruptions recorded since 930 and on average this volcano erupts every 40 to 80 years and is now past due… they expect that this Volcano may erupt at any point in the next few years. The last three times Eyjafjallajökull has erupted Katla has erupted soon afterwards and there have been increased earthquake activity in the area since then.
The whole area at the base of Mýrdalsjökull is covered in silt, ash and rocks and actually gives you the feeling of walking on the moon (I would assume…). The US Astronauts actually use to come to Iceland to practice walking here when training to walk on the moon.
We only had 20-30mins at the glacier and after I gave it a good lick (ticking off one of my things to do in life off of my mental bucket list) we were on the road again to the small village of Vik. Vik has a population of 200 or so people and its main income is from wool however they took a huge hit with the invention of fleece in the 1970s. The people that live here also have other things to worry about, if Katla were to erupt there would most likely be a flash flood from the Mýrdalsjökul Glacier which could potentially wipe out the entire town.
We stopped in Vik for lunch first before exploring the famous black beach Reynisfjara. This however was not a normal lunch for me, I walked into the little roadstop gas station / restuarant and I noticed a guy looking at my funny as I stared at the menu on the wall and then he approached me.
Guy “Hey, do I know you? Ya I’ve seen your videos, you make travel videos, they are awesome!”
Me “Huh??????? Me?? Ya I do, but holy cow how do you know me?” (as I searched for a hidden camera somewhere)
Guy “Ya, your videos are great, whats it called? Travel Yourself? Oh wow I can’t believe I’m meeting you, are you traveling here and making a video right now?”
Me “Ya, Travel Yourself, I’m Cailin I can’t believe you have seen my stuff, whats your name?”
Me “You are blowing my mind right now, let me order and I’ll come eat lunch with you.”
By the time I get to the table he is sitting at he is with four other people whom he had all told about me. He tells me he is from Toronto and just likes to travel and just found my site somehow. I was totally blown away and excited. This was definitely my ultimate of all ultimate small world moments.
After lunch it was on to Reynisfjara, museum started by an Icelandic man when he was just 14 and two waterfalls, but those will have to wait for “My South Shore Adventure in Iceland Part 2”.
Disclaimer: I was invited on the South Shore Adventure tour with Reykjavik Excursions however all views and opinions expressed are my own. Hop on a plane and visit Iceland now already would ya!?