Iceland is called the land of fire and ice. We didn’t actually see any fire. My kids were devastated that they couldn’t do the Inside the Volcano tour where you descend into a volcano that erupted thousands of years ago. You need to be 12 years old to do the tour though.
We made up for the lack of fire by seeing plenty of ice. One of the best ice experiences was Jokulsarlon, a glacier lagoon filled with icebergs. Technically the kids were supposed to be 130 cm to take the tour with the zodiac rigid inflatable boats onto the lagoon. The alternative was these massive amphibious boats. The amphibious boats couldn’t get as close to the icebergs though.
So for the purposes of the day we decided both our children were 130 cm. Frankly, I have no idea about the metric system and only knew their heights in feet. The zodiac operator looked dubious especially at my daughter. Although she is 9 years old, she is a petite little thing. But we stuck to our guns and put on our inflatable wet suits which were ginormous, especially on her.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Wow! The glacier and the icebergs at Jokulsarlon were beautiful. The icebergs are ice chunks falling off the Breidamerkurjokull Glacier which is just a projection of the even bigger Vatnajokull Glacier. Making up 8% of Iceland’s land mass, Vatnajokull is Europe’s largest glacier. You can see the dark stripes on the snow where volcanoes have erupted on the island putting down a layer of ash.
We saw a fat little seal sunning himself on an iceberg. He is part of a colony of 60+ seals who hang out in the Jokulsarlon feeding of the herring and krill in the lagoon.
7 Fun Facts About Jukulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
The Zodiac tour guide was supposed to tell us about the icebergs but mostly he was the strong silent type. We dug up info on icebergs to talk to our kids about. Did you know:
- The Jokulsarlon icebergs are about 1000 years old.
- Jokulsarlon is the deepest lake in Iceland at a depth of 250 metres.
- About 100 metres of ice break off from the glacier every year.
- Jokulsarlon has appeared in the movies, most notably Die Another Day and Tomb Raider.
- The Lagoon only started forming in 1934 when the glacier started retreating but is rapidly gaining in size.
- The Lagoon opens out into the ocean and so is a mix of fresh and salt water. That’s the reason it is a blue-green colour.
- Most of the Great Skua birds in the region nest in this area in the summer. And, they are very aggressive. My poor husband accidentally walked too close to one who turned and pecked him on the head until he fled.
Visiting Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
You can’t pre-book glacier lagoon visits at Jokulsarlon. We arrived in the late afternoon because we were side-tracked by all the other cool things to do on Icelands’ South Coast. When we went in July, we still only had a one hour wait. The tours by both the amphibious boats and the zodiacs run from April to October.
There are about a total of 40 tours a day in July and August because they are a very popular attraction. The trips run about 40 minutes. The zodiac has extra time added to it because you have to get into the snazzy overalls. The amphibious boat visitors are given life jackets only.