If you read my previous Winter in Iceland Part I post then you know we had a blast the first half of our trip. But, the second half is when the real fun started. We had booked day tours to go snowmobiling and glacier hiking.
On our third day, we woke up early and headed to our meeting point at Gulfoss for snowmobiling. We boarded a monster bus and drove an hour to the glacier. Everywhere you looked was white. At one point, our bus actually got stuck in the snow. It took us about 10 minutes to get moving again. It was terrifying, but I kept telling myself they do this ALL the time… Once we arrived at the base of the glacier, we spent 15 minutes bundling up. The tour operator provided pretty much everything for us. We got hats, helmets, gloves, socks, and jumpsuits. We cruised around for 50 minutes and stopped once for photos. Neither one of us had driven a snowmobile before, but it was fairly easy to pick up. One of us (clearly not me) was a little too comfortable on it and was flooring it! It was so much fun even though I was freezing by the end!
On our way back from Gulfoss, we stopped at Efstidalur II per a local’s recommendation. Efstidalur II is a “Farm Hotel” or, in other words, it is a hotel with an attached barn. In addition to the farm and the hotel, Efstidalur II also has a restaurant and a cafe. We were told to try the ice cream because the milk is fresh from their farm. Despite the cold, I made sure we popped in for some waffles and ice cream.
The next day, we truly experienced winter in Iceland. It was snowing pretty hard and we feared our glacier hike would be cancelled. The weather was forecasted to improve, so we drove two hours to meet at the Sólheimjökull glacier. Fortunately none of the roads we needed were closed, but they were in dangerous conditions. They hadn’t been driven on much or even plowed. Thankfully, David grew up driving in Wisconsin winters, so we were able to make it to the glacier in one piece… and on time. Pretty miraculous!
I found this particular tour through Olafsson Travel, which exclusively works with Ion Hotel. Originally, we had wanted to do an ice cave tour, but unfortunately there weren’t any close to Reykjavik. Ice cave tours are typically much further northeast, around where Glacier Lagoon is. With that in mind, I started looking into glacier hikes. I liked that this tour had intimate hiking groups of 4-8 people and was only four hours long compared to a lot of others which can be 10-12 hours long.
Once at the meeting point, we received our hiking and climbing gear and set foot. The weather cleared up and it no longer felt like winter in Iceland. In fact, within minutes, we were all shedding layers. Along the way, our guide provided history about the Sólheimjökull glacier and fun facts about Iceland. He also casually mentioned that we were hiking near an active volcano. I thought to myself again, they do this ALL the time… The deeper into the glacier we hiked, the more beautiful it got. Half way through the tour, we stopped to do a climb up a glacier wall. It was incredibly difficult and terrifying, but each one of us did it. Ice picking has been a long-time bucket list item of mine, so I was so excited to finally be able to cross it off. After four hours of hiking, we called it a day and headed back to Ion for dinner.
It was an amazing trip, and I wished we could have stayed another day or two. Iceland is such a unique experience and culture. If you haven’t already been, put it on your list!
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