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One of the most photogenic region of Iceland totally changes its character in mid winter. Seen in summer the green and mountainous Skaftafell area along with Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon becomes a frozen world of ice and snow in winter. I have been going there more frequently in winter the last couple of years. Here is a short photo essay of the images I have brought back from these trips.


Frozen Glacier Lagoon

After a long period of cold temperatures the lagoon freezes over. It is possible to enter the frozen lagoon after these long periods only. Shorter periods of warm temperatures will brake up the ice and the icebergs will start moving again. One must make sure the ice is well thick and solid before entering as thinner ice even though it supports a human might not prevent the icebergs from moving and rolling and braking up the ice.  There are also areas of the lagoon that are unsafe at all times because of moving water. A local mountain guide or expert is therefore recommended for adventures like these.

Ice boulders on top the frozen lagoon in the soft mid winter midday sun.
An ice formation resembling a wave on the frozen glacier lagoon.
Pastel colored sunset lights up the mountains north of Jökulsárlón.
My wife posing as a model on a crystal blue iceberg.
Ice block chaos on Jökulsárlón.
A small piece of frozen lagoon perched on top of a crystal blue iceberg.


Frozen Lakes

Glacial lakes in the Skaftafell area freeze over in winter just like other bodies of water. In some year they freeze really thick before the winter snow arrives. The surface of the ice is fractured by the relentless force of the glaciers pushing the ice sheet forward inch by inch. Over days and weeks the ice sheet will be pushed over obstacles which become quite interesting from a photographic point of view.

When the level of the lake goes down large blocks of ice shatter on the bottom surface.
The relentless force of Svínafellsjökull pushing the ice sheet over a small iceberg.
Stress fractures caused by the forces of the advancing  glacier Svínafellsjökull.


Details of the Ice

There are alot of details for the eye in this world of ice. Some of the most interesting ones, the 3D world inside the ice is impossible to capture on a 2D camera but other details can be captured.

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon seen through an ice hole.
Melting icicles in early spring.
The shape of the iceberg takes many forms.


Ice Caves

Ice caves are a feature that many glaciers have. Melted by sub-glacial water these features sometimes emerge at the end of glaciers. Inherently unstable these caves can be entered when cold temperatures makes the ice hard and stops the melting and weakening of their structures. You can read more about my Crystal Cave photo. Again a mountain guide or a local expert is advised. Here is a guy I recommend: Öræfaferðir.

Ice cave in Vatnjökull ice cap. Here Skarpi is posing as a model.
Colorful light reflects on ice patterns in an ice cave in Vatnajökull ice cap.
Örvar and Mai in a crystal cave in Vatnajökull ice cap.
JohnathanEsper viewing an entrance to an ice cave.
Ice cave entrance.


Open Water

Although most water in this area freezes there are sections where the water is always open.

On a day with unusually heavy snow at Jökulsárlón.
The sea is always open water in Iceland.
Early morning sun rays light up mt. Öræfajökull.


As the last words I want to emphasize that this world of ice can be dangerous if you dont treat it with uttermost respect. Also I would like to thank Einar Rúnar Sigurðsson from Öræfaferðir for providing me with detailed information about the glaciers and ice caves of this area and also thanks to my fellow travellers:

My wife
Kristian Klepp
Erez, Dima and Shy
Johnathan Esper and Charlie Giang
Noom and Jeab



6 Responses to Frozen World

  • […] You can find my blog post here: Frozen World […]

  • Erez Marom

    Insane images Orvar!
    Pure beauty, fantastic skills and composition my friend. I feel extremely lucky to have been a small part of your experiece.
    All the best, hope to see you again soon.

  • Shawn Malone

    I am in total awe of what you have shared here. Am planning my trip to Iceland because of your images 😀

  • Paul Owen

    Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wil be making my 3rd visit to Iceland in early April this year and your images have furthered my inspiration!! Taak fyrir (spelled correct??)

  • orvaratli

    Takk fyrir Paul.

    I wish you the best of luck on your tour. Visit our gallery if you want some in person information about Iceland.

  • Waltraud Hoffmann

    Phantastic Photos – i will visit you in July when I come to Reykjavik!So long!Waltraud