From Iceland — Floating In A Glacial Lagoon

Floating In A Glacial Lagoon

Floating In A Glacial Lagoon

Phil Uwe Widiger
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Published June 22, 2018

This May has been the worst May in Iceland in the last hundred years. Grey skies, rain and at times even snow or hail made us just want to crawl under the blankets and stay there for the whole day.

That’s why when I first heard about the plan to go kayaking in a glacial lagoon, it seemed like outright lunacy to me. But little did I know that it would become one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life.

A gorgeous day

When we leave for Sólheimajökull in the early morning and we make our way south, the sky opens up and sunlight breaks through, showing every little detail in the diverse Icelandic landscape around us. As we drive through lava fields, flat lands and majestic mountains, I cannot believe my eyes—the beauty of a sunny day in Iceland is definitely a sight to behold.

We arrive at Sólheimajökull just in time. Our Iceland Mountain Guide for the day, Henrik, greets us with a smile. “It is gorgeous today,” he says, clearly enjoying the surprisingly good weather as much as we do. Patiently instructed by Henrik, we grab our paddles and head for the glacial lagoon where the kayaks are waiting for us.

Shine like a diamond

The floating icebergs around us catch every bit of sunlight, shining like precious diamonds. In the background the glacier lurks like a giant white monster, cutting its way into the surrounding mountains. It is pure magic.

I have kayaked a few times in my life, but I have never enjoyed it this much. The boats are stable and they float easily, and with Henrik’s guidance I feel completely safe. As we make our way through the icebergs, we make regular stops while Henrik educates us about the glacier.

“You can see that this iceberg just flipped because of its fresh, light blue colour,” he explains. “The one over there, covered in sediments, has been here for at least five years. The sediments help shelter the ice from the sun.”

A quick dip

Eager to see more, we carefully paddle through the stream of two glacial rivers to play with the raw forces of nature until we get to what I think is the highlight of this trip. As the sun shines onto the blue surface of the lagoon, I step onto the edge of the kayak and with a swift move I jump into the water.

For a while we look up to the sky, floating on our backs in the magical glacial lagoon, holding onto our life vests. Clouds move slowly above us, and as the water stirs me around in circles I begin feeling at peace with the world around me. And the best thing is we don’t even get wet, safely protected by our dry suits.

After roughly an hour, we are back at the shore, but not content with our previous quick dip, our trusty guide jumps back into the lagoon to float another time with small pieces of icebergs. Yes, it was just as stunning as that sounds, and an experience that I’m likely to remember forever.

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Guide Profile:

Name: Henrik Chadwick Hlynsson

Age: 27

Home Country: Mosfellsbær, Iceland

Favourite Part of the Job: “I love to teach people something they didn’t know before and see them go ‘ahhhhhh.”

Strange Guide Moment: “There have been many. Yesterday, a guy came in sandals for a glacier walk—without socks. So we gave him socks and boots but then he didn’t like the boots…”

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