North of the Wall: An Icelandic Glacier Tour
Lately it seems like the theme of my blog has been “cleaning out my camera roll and remembering all the cool things I’ve done.” A pretty solid theme, in my opinion. If you thought my previous posts – like the Neon Boneyard post – were delayed well then you’re going to be really judgey about the time it took me to put this one together.
Over a year and a half ago (I’m sorry!) my Greek husband and I took a trip to Iceland. We spent the majority of our time exploring but decided we wanted to do one big thing and so we booked a Glacier Tour in Skaftafell National Park. For those of you who are Game of Thrones fans, we were lucky enough to tour “the land beyond the wall.” (I don’t watch Game of Thrones, but my Greek husband does and he was pretty excited when I informed him of this.) Here’s my breakdown of the whole experience:
What: We chose to trek with Icelandic Mountain Guides on the “Blue Ice Experience” Trek. These days it’s marketed as a two hour tour, but we were lucky enough to be on the glacier for three hours – right in the afternoon. The tour has changed a bit since we went – mainly due to the fact that, uh due to global warming, the glaciers are melting. Seriously - catch this tour while you can.
Where: This group does tours from several different points, but we decided to spend the last full day of our trip pushing ourselves to the farthest point and made our way to Skaftafell National Park. The drive to the park was other wordly, as most drives through Iceland in February tend to be, so we just relaxed in the visitors center before making our way to the Icelandic Mountain Guides Sales Cabin.
Definitely make sure to get to the Sales Cabin a bit before your tour though – you’ll want to get used to the crampons and ice axes they give you to prepare you for your trek.
Parking: Easy peasy. It’s a National Park with free parking. You’re set.
Crowds: I did a lot of research before picking our “big thing” because I didn’t want to be disappointed. It’s hard to be disappointed when you’re somewhere as insanely beautiful was Iceland, but hey – that’s who I am as a trip planner. One of the things I loved about the Blue Ice Experience was that it’s a small tour. There were eight of us total – six guests, a photographer and our tour guide.
Yay or Nay: In my opinion, the pictures speak for themselves – this is an obvious YAY. But if you still need convincing, consider this: our tour guide explained to us that in a few years, they won’t be able to do these tours anymore due to safety reasons. Even in the year and a half since we went, the tour has changed. The glaciers are melting and changing every day, and in my opinion it’s pretty freaking amazing that my Greek husband and I got to see something that will never ever be the same as the day we saw it. (Also, Jackie Chan was filming a movie on the glacier while we were on the tour. Don't even try to pretend that's not cool.)
The Icelandic Mountain Guide hosts are super knowledgeable and they make the experience truly awesome. I’m not going to lie to you – a glacier tour is sort of terrifying. Please, please don’t be careless and think you can go out on a glacier without a guide. You have to walk carefully – to watch out for holes or fragile ice – and you have to stay together as a group. You need special gear and the guidance of someone who is used to the terrain. I was definitely scared when they ran through all the safety procedures with us, but honestly, I’m glad I tackled my fear and continued with the tour. It’s truly an amazing experience and if you’re lucky enough to have this opportunity – take it.