Iceland 2023 Day 10 – Hofn To Kirkjubaejarklaustur

Date: 3rd Mar 2023

Diamond Beach

Following the bright sunny weather of the previous two days, this morning was very dull and overcast. Today we started our return journey along the south coast of Iceland. We planned to spend two days at Vik, however to avoid an overly long drive we had added an overnight stop at Kirkjubaejarklaustur. Our first stop was at the famous Diamond Beach close to the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, except that there were no diamonds to be seen. No icebergs either, just a rather empty and desolate black beach. Still, it made for some moody photographs.

N0 Diamonds Here

Incoming Waves At Diamond Beach


Next stop was at Skaftafell, which was a National Park up until 2008, when it was merged with the larger Vatnajokull National Park. The Skaftafell glacier is adjacent to the Svinafell glacier which we had visited on our outward journey and is clearly in view from the main Highway 1 . By the time we arrived at Skaftafell, the weather had completely changed to a bright sunny day with clear blue skies, as can be seen in this telephoto panorama of the glacier, taken from the main road.

Skaftafell Glacier

The glacier can be reached by a short walk of about 1km from the Skaftafell Visitor Centre where there is a large car park. As with most glaciers in Iceland, it ends at a glacial lagoon, however the Skaftafell lagoon is difficult to reach and the image below shows the view across a smaller side lagoon, which was easy to access and provided beautiful reflections in the still waters.

Skaftafell Reflections

The mountain summits above the glacier also made an interesting subject when zoomed in. The shot below is a very small section of the right summit area in the wider view above.

Skaftafell Mountain Summits

The area in front of the glacier is rough ground, full of glacial debris left behind by the retreating glacier. There are numerous small pools, which can be used to provide some foreground interest, with the glacier as a backdrop.

Frozen Pools At Skaftafell

Skeidara Bridge Monument

A couple of kilometres on from Skaftafell is the Skeidara Bridge Monument, comprising of two girders that are all that remain of the Skeidara Bridge – once the longest span bridge in Iceland. The bridge was washed away in the 1996 eruption under the Vatnajokull glacier after the meltwater burst out from beneath the Skeidararjokull glacier. There were no deaths or injuries as the road was closed due to the eruption, but the road and bridge were washed away by the massive flood of waters. The girders have been arranged as a commemorative sculpture, and make a good mono subject.

Skeidara Bridge Monument

It was interesting at this point to look at the contrasting views along the road. In one direction, the road points to the mountains and outlet glaciers of the Vatnajokull ice cap. In the other, the road crosses land that is perfectly flat for miles around – the result of numerous glacial burst events which have washed material down from the mountains and spread it out in the wide alluvial plain known as the Skeidararsandur.

Road To Vatnajokull

Road Across The Skeidararsandur

Hotel Magma

Towards the end of the day, we visited the Fossalar waterfall which is right beside highway 1, about 13km east of Kirkjubaejarklaustur, our destination for that evening. However we re-visited the waterfall the following morning under better conditions, so the final shot of the day is of the evening light on a small lake at Hotel Magma, our hotel for the night.

Sunset At Hotel Magma