Ice Ice Baby: Jökulsárlón, Ice Caves & Glacier Hiking

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Before I left for Iceland I became <em>obsessed</em> with all things glacier-related. Going inside glaciers, hiking on them, seeing them float around in a lagoon, climbing on them. So, imagine my shattered hopes when I learned that most tours to East Iceland only operate during the warmer months. Apparently because winter in Iceland is violent, scary and unpredictable. (I can now attest that this is true.)

Bad weather be damned! I was getting to that glacier one way or another. I researched, read reviews, researched more and finally found Goecco Excursions! They were one of the few companies offering everything I wanted to do in one easy package. So, booking with them was a no-brainer! It was easily the best decision I made, aside from going to Iceland in the first place.

I spent two days with Goecco, and our great guide Siggi, traveling from Reykjavik to East Iceland and back again. My first day with Goecco was filled with waterfalls, basalt columns, black sand beaches and new friends. 

I was pretty sure it couldn't get any better... until day two kicked off. Our itinerary included exploring the world famous Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon & iceberg beach, slipping on crampons and hiking on a glacier, and walking under a few hundred tons of ice.

After a big breakfast at their lodge, we packed up and headed out to our first stop of the day: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and black sand iceberg beach. We got there just as the sun started to peak over the horizon (at 9:30 AM!) and painted the lagoon in colors I've never seen before.  Cotton candy skies, snow-covered mounts, and cool blue icebergs. It was unreal. I still can't believe I saw it in person.

Across the street was a black sand beach littered with giant chunks of ice that floated out of Jökulsárlón and pushed onto the beach by a very angry ocean.  Look closely in the photos and you'll see teeny-tiny people walking along the beach.

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For scale: Those little black dots are 200+lb seals

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I still really don't have words to describe how beautiful and unique this experience was. So, instead of trying, I'll just show you a gazillion photos. The photos have not been enhanced aside from a touch of brightness. It was really just that blue and breathtaking.

** To see all the ice cave & hiking photos, please click-through! There are just too many to put on one page.

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Now do you see why I have a hard time describing it? It's just a type of beauty I've never experienced before. And you might be thinking I can't top this leg of the adventure, right? How could it get any more other-worldly beautiful? I thought the same thing. Then we went on the glacier hike and I lost my mind.

After a short drive, a stop for lunch and some ridiculous scenic views (see top picture below), we arrived at our hiking spot. We got a rundown on how to strap on crampons, how to use our ice picks to avoid falling into a crevasse, and how dangerous this activity actually is. (Hint: really freaking dangerous, apparently.)

It was easily my favorite part of the trip. The weather was perfect, the colors were incredible. I'll let the photos speak for themselves, though.

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Kind of incredible, right? I pinch myself every time I look through these photos. Was I really here? Did I really do all of these things alone?

I did. And I am pretty proud of myself for doing so. I pushed myself past my comfort zone many times throughout this trip and each time I was greeted by an incredible experience. In fact, I still have loads more to share - but I might keep it to myself. I'm sure you're overloaded on Iceland pictures and commentary.

If you find yourself heading up beyond the wall (GoT reference, duh) - don't hesitate to reach out to me for packing advice. If you live in the area, I'm happy to let you borrow things you may need, too!

So, where will adventure take me next? Fingers crossed, I'll be going here.