Into the Glacier — Iceland

When I saw that Into The Glacier were based in Husafell, the same location as our first hotel in Iceland I decided to book it for our first day.  Generally we wanted our holiday to be governed by the weather and to not be looking at our watches every day but we decided to book this one trip as we were worried it might get booked up.

Into The Glacier have an office just to the side of the Bistro in the centre of the village where it is possible to borrow warm snow suits and over shoes for boots.   I strongly suggest you do this, even if you have decent walking boots on.   There are puddles inside the glacier and you dont want icy water splashing on your feet or legs.

They also supply cramp-ons when you get in the glacier to make sure you really are safe on the ice.   Sexy they are not.  Safe and warm, they really are.

Names checked off the list outside the office and it is time to jump into the vehicle for the 1 hour trip to the Langjokull glacier.   These are NATO rocket launchers that have been converted and make for quite the ride.  They climbed up roads that I am not sure we would have approached in a 4×4 seem and made them seem like a walk in the park.   In fact as we learned on the trip if the weather changes (as it often can) they are still pretty much guaranteed to get passengers safely back down the mountain, even if the road vanishes!  Thankfully we didn’t need to worry about that as the weather couldn’t have been more perfect for our trip.  We had glorious blue skies, the sun was shining and it was -16.  Yep, minus sixteen and with the wind chill it was down to about -23, not that we needed to worry, the truck was very warm (so warm we were all stripped down to our jumpers, hats, gloves and coats all discarded).

After a brief stop at Klaki base camp for people to use the loo we carried on up to the entrance to the glacier.   During the drive our guide Ingo told us more about Iceland and about the glacier which was fascinating, leaving Stefan our driver to navigate his way up hill, and to deflate and inflate the tyres depending on the depth of the snow all from an app on his phone.

Langjökull (the Long Glacier) is the second largest in Iceland. It coverns an area of about 950 km² and most of it rises between 1200 and 1300 m above sea level. It rests on a massif of hyaloclastite mountains.

The southwestern part of the ice cap is called Geitlandsjökull, which rises to an elevation of 1400 metres. To the south of Geitlandsjökull and separated from the main ice cap, is the smaller (1350 m) Þórisjökull, which sits atop an irregular table mountain.

According to legend, it was named after the troll Þórir, who lived in a green valley in the pass between the two glaciers.

It is also the longest man made ice tunnel in the world

The trip though the glacier is magical.  Your group consists of about 30 people and there is only one group there at a time so there is no feeling of it being overcrowded.  It is also well lit and the tunnels relatively wide so you don’t feel at all claustrophobic and there are plenty of opportunities to take photos with nobody else in them.

There are also several rooms in the glacier, the one above is actually a chapel where 11 weddings have been held.  Including one where the bride had no idea where she was getting married because her fiancé had organised the entire thing.  He probably should have told her to not wear the off the shoulder dress and the stilettos though!

 

Oh and the tour is guided with lots more information on how glaciers are formed and how they are shrinking because of global warming.   We also learned how you can work out the age of a glacier by counting the “summer rings” in the ice.  Every summer when sand is mixed with the ice and freezes it leaves a line in the ice that are then visible when the ice is cut.   Such as those above.

As we came out of the glacier after the tour and got back on the truck we were treated to the most incredible sunset.  There was less chatter on the way down, definitely a few people napping, and the rest taking in the stunning views.    I think it was with a heavy heart we all returned our borrowed overshoes to the office, realising we had just all got back from a real trip of a lifetime.

The whole trip takes between 3 and 4 hours depending on the weather and costs roughly £150 per person.  For more info see Into The Glacier  

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