From Iceland — Sólheimajökull: A Stunning Ice Giant

Sólheimajökull: A Stunning Ice Giant

Signe Smala
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Published March 19, 2019

Just a 158 kilometres drive south of the capitol—pleasantly accessible from Reykjavík—lies Sólheimajökull, the “Home of the Sun.” The glacier is part of the offspring descending from Mýrdalsjökull, Iceland’s fourth biggest ice cap, which lies on top of the infamous volcano Katla. Standing on top of Sólheimajökull offers unforgettable views out at gentle streams of melt water and deep, sharply cut cravasses stretching across the space outlined by white snow fields dotted with black volcanic ash. For those eager to pay a visit to this unique, stunning giant, get there soon. You will be rewarded by a stunning site you won’t soon forget.

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Let’s hear it from you!

Name: Marco

From: Italy

Is this your first visit to Sólheimajökll? “Yes, it’s my first time in Iceland and also my first time on a glacier,” Marco says.

What was your favourite thing about this glacier walk? “Being on the very top of the glacier surrounded by strong winds and amazing landscapes,” he says, smiling. “You don’t see that every day in Sicily.”

Was this adventure different from how you had imagined it? “Completely different. I originally thought, okay it’s a glacier, but there’s probably nothing too surprising there,” he explains. “But actually it was an amazing experience. I thought that it would be smaller, but we walked a lot. I kept thinking that the tour was probably about to be done, but it continued for a long time.” He pauses, before adding, “And then of course I must mention the cave and the vibrant colour of the ice.”

What made you choose this glacier from all of the ones available in southern Iceland?

“Me and my friend, we are staying not far from here,” he explains. “The owner of the place suggested we come. He did also warn us not to do the walk alone, but with a guide. It really can be dangerous, so we followed all of his suggestions. And I’m happy to say, I don’t have any regrets!”

What would be the perfect song to expeience Sólheimajökull to? Marco laughs at the question. “Hm, I don’t know. Mamma Mia,” concludes the man.

Name: Riccardo

From: Italy & the U.K.

What made you interesed in doing a glacier walk?

“It was one of my dreams to come to this remote island—a big thing to cross on my bucket list,” says Riccardo. “And walking on glacier seemed like a curious experience. Back in Italy we drink water, but it’s not possible to walk on it. Here, however, that is an option. To be honest, it feels quite awesome.”

What made you interested in visting Sólheimajökll?

“When I do trips, I always use Lonely Planet’s guide,” Riccardo explains. “It mentioned Sólheimajökll as one with the better access to it and it was also quite close to where we are staying.”

What was your favourite thing about this glacier walk?

“The walk, the lights, the reflections you can see. You can go hiking anywhere, you can walk on snow, go on mountains and it will be nice, but on the glacier, the light and the reflection of sunlight is something amazing,” he says with a grin. “It’s not comparable to any other experience.”

Was this adventure different from how you had imagined it?

“Yes! I was very surprised by the ashes from the previous eruptions. It’s quite interesting, how they are incorporated in the glacier itself, and day after day they are growing more into the ice,” he explains. “You see black ice and a black glacier, which is something unusual. I didn’t expect that. “

What would be the perfect song to expeience Sólheimajökull to?

“If I had to match a song to this whole adventure, from putting my crampons on to us reaching the plateau,” Riccardo says, pausing while mulling the question over. “It would be Beethoven’s Symphony no 7. It starts very calm and then begins building in intensity. In the first movement, there is almost an earthquake kind of moment, which was, for me, when I finally caught my first sight of the ice. That would be the perfect song for my experience.”

Meet a local!

Name: Javier

From: Spain & Iceland

Occupation: Glacier Tour Guide

For how long have you been living in Iceland?

“It has been three and a half to four years now with some breaks,” the guide explains.

What keeps you in glacier guiding?

“For me, it’s kind of a way of life. I like to spend my days close to the mountains and the gorgeous landscapes of Iceland,” Javier says. “I’m outdoors most of the time, which suits me well as I really enjoy being outside. This is one of the reasons why I really like my job.”

Do you ever get tired of doing this?

He laughs. “Sometimes to be honest,” he explains. “The weather can get quite tough, but I really like it. The glacier is always changing so I don’t get bored. There’s always more for me to see.”

Is there somethig special about Sólheimajökll?

“In the big picture, you can consider is to be quite similar to other glaciers in Iceland. But every glacier has something of its own different formation,” Javier says. “For example, this glacier is retreating a lot, which makes me think that it’s a particularly sensitive one. It makes it easier to see what’s happening with the climate.” He pauses, then adds, “It’s also in close proximity to volcanoes. I’d say those are the things that make this glacier special.”

Why do you think it’s worth it for someone to visit a glacier?

“There are so many thing you can see on the glacier. Visitors can experience something unique and as the glacier is changing, they might not be able to see it in the future anymore. There is a slight feeling of urgency,” he says in a serious tone. “I’d suggest seeing the glacier in wintertime. The conditions then are quite special with white snow, bright blue colours, cravasses, and perpetually different features on the glacier. However, no matter when you make the trip, you will definitely learn a lot about the glacier and how it works.”

What would be the perfect song to expeience Sólheimajökull to?

“I really like the song ‘M83’ by Outro,” says Javier. “I think it would fit very well.”

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