Getting up close and personal with glaciers, one of Iceland’s most beautiful natural phenomena, can be treacherous. However, if you’re hankering to feel lost amongst an icy wilderness, then one of the best ways to see the glaciers is by snowmobile–potentially one of the coolest modes of transport in existence.
I was excited to blast through the snow, and waited in eager anticipation for our tour guide to pick us up. When our ride pulled up I knew we were in for some serious fun; the Arctic Adventures super truck that would transport us to Langjökull was essentially a minibus with tractor-sized tyres. We bounced along the road, feeling massive next to all the other cars.
One of my favourite parts of any tour is the journey itself. After the weekend’s ‘snowpocalypse’, the landscape was a snowy wonderland complete with frozen lakes, white mountains and glittering icicles. After a couple of hours being mesmerised by this scenery, we arrived at Langjökull glacier, the second largest glacier in Iceland. It was beautiful, it was captivating, and it was cold. Really cold. -8 degrees kind of cold. I was more than grateful when we were kitted out with snow suits and balaclavas, even if fluorescent orange isn’t really my colour.
The tour guides explained how to use the snowmobiles, and to my pleasant surprise, it was pretty simple: throttle on one side; break on the other- there was no faffing around with gears or anything. Easy peasy. This tour requires you to share a snowmobile (if you prefer to ride solo you can request your own snowmobile at an extra cost). One of you drives one-way, one drives the other, so you each get about 25 minutes to half an hour driving time. I was the passenger first and, as I am no adrenaline junkie, I clung on for dear life as we hurtled through the snow. It did afford me a chance to take in our surroundings though, and was left breathless. We could have been on the North Pole. It was crystal white as far as the eye could see—a snow covered desert.
We stopped at the mouth of a large ice cave and explored for a while. I gazed in awe at the layers of ice, some over 600 years old. Over time, the ice melts, uncovering layers of ash from past volcanic eruptions. It’s fascinating to see (and a great photo-op, so you must remember to bring your camera).
After exploring the cave, we headed back to base, and I was in the driving seat. Now, I have to explain that I am the most uncoordinated, clumsy, accident-prone person I know, so I was really nervous. But as the driving felt pretty comfortable, I even found myself tutting at people going too slow (perhaps I’m more of an adrenaline junkie that I thought). It seemed easy to get the hang of it. At least, until I leaned the wrong way and tipped the snowmobile over, sending myself and my passenger skidding along the snow. Luckily, snow is probably one of the comfiest things you can fall onto, and we were both fine. My pride, however, took a bit of a bruising.
But, my inherent clumsiness aside, the tour itself is incredibly safe and the snowmobiles are genuinely easy to drive. After all, the minimum age for this tour is 8 years old, which not only goes to show that it’s a very safe tour fit for even children, but also that I have the coordination and balance of a 7 year old.
Despite this little blip, snowmobiling was a lot of fun. It’s possibly one of the most enjoyable ways to explore a glacier, and to see the beautiful icy landscape. We returned to the much-welcome heat of the super truck and headed back to Reykjavík feeling exhilarated, sleepily gazing out onto the surrounding winter wonderland once more.
Trip provided by www.snowmobile.is