3-Day Ice Cave & Northern Lights Tour: Glacier Lagoon, South Shore & Golden Circle.
It may be the darkest time of the year, but also the most magical. This 3-Day Ice Cave & Northern Lights Tour is for everyone who wants to experience, see, feel and taste the real Iceland. We’ve been fine-tuning this tour for 5 years to make this a once in a lifetime experience for our guests.
Steaming Geysirs, Glaciers & Icebergs
This adventure is not just a journey to the absolute best Iceland has to offer in winter; but also an opportunity to explore our planet and powerful forces of nature. You will see hot steaming geysers, breath-taking waterfalls, endless lava fields, hear the ancient song of the glacier, touch the blue ice, feel the arctic wind on your face, and dance with the northern lights. You will be travelling in a small group, making new friends, enjoying good food, and experience the famous Nordic HYGGE in relaxing atmosphere.
Ice Cave & Northern Lights
This tour focus on the two most exciting winter phenomena in Iceland: Ice caving and northern lights. They are both creations of Mother Nature and absolutely magical. We do our best to deliver both, so you can return home with your camera and memory loaded with beautiful scenery that will stay with you for a long, long time…
3-Day Ice Cave & Northern Lights Tour Itinerary
DAY 1 – Golden Circle
Our first stop is the famous and beautiful Thingvellir National Park and UNESCO Heritage site. The scenery here is amazing no matter the weather! We’ll get a close look at how the tectonic plates work, as we follow the footsteps of Game of Thrones into the rift valley between the North American and the Eurasian plate. Thingvellir is also where the first settlers of Iceland founded the world’s oldest parliament, Althingi, in the year 930. So this place has a special meaning to all Icelanders.
Then we continue to the geysers area, with the Geysir after which all other geysers are named. Here we’ll see the lively geyser, Strokkur, erupt every 5-10 minutes reaching a height of up to 30 meters. And we’ll also have a look at the other geothermal features around it: mud pools, fumaroles, algal deposits, and other mini-geysers. It’s a unique place to see and hear how Mother Earth is alive!
Next stop is Iceland’s most beautiful and breath-taking waterfall: Gullfoss carved out of the lava fields. It’s the largest fall in Europe, and some of our guests even say that it’s more amazing than the Niagara falls! Judge for yourself whilst you enjoy the midst of glacial water on your face.
Relax at Goecco Guest House
When you tour with us accommodation is also part of the experience. This year we have created a new experience for our guests that you will not get on any other overnight ice-cave tour.
We will take you far, far away from other tourists, to a little house by a river in the middle of an ancient lava field. You will be surrounded by Icelandic art from some of the finest artists; you will listen to atmospheric Icelandic music and relax in a true Nordic atmosphere. There will be just us, the stars, and the northern lights… Outside you will find a soothing hot tub perfect for stargazing and northern lights spotting.
We have 8 double rooms with private WC decorated with art and soft wool blankets and bathrobes and slippers for your comfort.
Every evening we’ll explore the cold winter night and if the conditions are good we will watch out for the Northern Lights, which are often seen right above the guesthouse. As there is no light pollution in the area you can get stunning photographs here.
Then it’s time to rest before the next day of glacier and ice caving adventure.
Day 2 – Ice caving and glacier hiking
We rise and shine early to enjoy the breakfast and a morning brief. Then we hit the road, ready for a day full of adventure. Today we’ll explore the mysterious and stunning Vatnajökull glacier inside out! Europe’s largest glacier – with its gigantic blocks of ice, layers of volcanic dust capsule within the ice and its breathtaking blue ice caves of Skaftafell National Park. And of course the famous Jökulsarlon – also known as the Glacier Lagoon with its ever changing icebergs and seals playing in the cold water.
Our 4×4 truck will work hard through the lunar landscape and chew its way through rocks, ice, and snow to get us there. This is where it will make sense to you why we don’t recommend self-driving in Iceland!
Depending on the conditions on the day and how far we can drive we will do a short hike up to the ice cave. All our guides are specially trained so listen carefully to their safety instructions and always wear your helmet.
Once you enter the ice cave you’ll see that it’s simply a once in a lifetime experience in one of the wonders of the world. It’s like standing under a frozen blue ocean or in a frozen cathedral with tones of white, blue.
The ice caves are natural structures come and go with the seasons. They are being born in the Summer from the massive pressure of glacial melt-water and can only be accessed in the winter when they empty. That is why the caves are never the same. The first famous cave we found, also known as The Crystal Ice Cave in Skaftafell National Park collapsed years ago. Our ice cave guides find new ice caves in Vatnajökull Glacier and other glaciers each season.
As ice caving has become the no. 1 popular thing to do in Iceland, you must expect other people in the ice caves especially around national holidays.
All images you see on our website are shot on our tours the past seasons. However, ice caves change every season and are reborn with the meltwater from the Summer season, so the ice caves will NOT be exactly like the images you see here. The images can only be used as a guidance. We just have to wait and see what Mother Nature makes for us each season.
We also stop the famous Jökulsarlon – also known as the Glacier Lagoon and a famous film location for Hollywood movies fx James Bond (Die Another Day and A View to Kill). Here you see the ever changing icebergs in white and blue in the ice cold lagoon – on most days we see seals and birds playing in the water.
We will also go to the glacier beach, which we think is actually cooler than the lagoon. Here you can touch the ancient icebergs and shoot amazing up-close photographs. And if you bring whiskey we have ice!
Please note that sailing at the lagoon is not included in the tour and is only possible till the lagoon freezes over.
Set foot on the largest glacier in Europe
We’ll put on our ice spikes, helmets and grab an ax to do a short glacier walk, which is a mind-blowing experience. You’ll really feel the forces of nature when you walk on the ancient ice, look into deep crevasses, and listen to the sounds of the glacier.
If you are a fan of Game of Thrones you will like this part of the tour, as this part of the glacier was used in the HBO TV-show Game of Thrones. You will now find yourself beyond the Wall with White Walkers and Wildlings lurking around…
We do an easy hike that everyone can take part in just to get a feel of the glacier. Again listen to the guide, listen to nature and listen carefully to the safety instructions.
Day 3 – South Shore Expedition
Then it is time to head back to Reykjavik along the brutal South Shore via the town of Vik. Today you will see black beaches, basalt columns, huge waterfalls, volcanoes, glaciers, Icelandic horses and colorful, rough scenery.
Before Vík, we cross the black desert of Skeidarasandur, and then Laki Lava Field – the biggest one on the planet. You’ll see what it’s like to live in a country with 200 earthquakes a day, 150 active volcanoes and clear signs of climate change.
Next stop is the most stunning and powerful black pebble beach in Iceland: Reynisfjara Beach with its basalt formations and columns. Beware that the waves at Reynisfjara are strong and unpredictable and have caused death several times, so it is vital to listen to the guide’s instructions about keeping a distance to the sea and not climb on the rocks.
After a short drive, we arrive at the beautiful Skogafoss Waterfall – famous for its magic rainbows! Your camera will love it!
Luckily we have even more waterfalls for you: Seljalandsfoss Waterfall and the “secret elf waterfall” inside the cliffs, which is like taken out of a fairy tale and truly magical.
And then we just have a short ride left before we are back in civilization also known as Reykjavik, but 3 days of adventure richer…
Why book with us: We include accommodation and breakfast in the price. Our guesthouse is exclusively for Goecco guests, located in “The Middle of Nowhere” with no light pollution – perfect for Northern Light photography. We are sustainable, local and eco. All tours are operated by us and can only be booked directly from us. No agent, no expensive middleman, and no boring hotels!
Departure: November – April
Departure days: Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays at 9:00 am.
Pick up/Drop off: We start the tour from Goecco Main office in Bankastræti 10, 101, Reykjavik. We are there at 08:45 and depart at 09:00. See location on map
Duration: 3 days, 2 nights. Est. arrival time in Reykjavik is 20:00.
Price: Adults: 945,- USD in private DBL room.
Adult in SGL: 1.350,- USD in Single room. Please note that booking can only be done in even numbered groups. If you are a single traveler or part of an odd-numbered group the cost of a single room is higher as we will block a seat on the truck.
Minimum age: 13 years. If you travel with children under 13 years, please contact us directly for other options firstname.lastname@example.org
Tour type: For anyone who wants to see best of Iceland in one wonderful winter tour.
Group size: Max 16 guests.
What’s included: Glacier hiking, 4×4 ice cave tour, lava caving, Jökulsarlon/Glacier Lagoon, Reynisfjara Beach, Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, South Shore, Golden Circle, Northern Lights, accommodation, and 2 x breakfast. We also include all glacier safety equipment: helmet, crampons, ice spikes, ice axe.
Highlights of the Tour: Ice Caving, Glacier Hiking, Northern Lights, Outdoor Hot Tub Bathing at our Lodge.
Accommodation: Our own guesthouse “The Middle of Nowhere” located in a lava field with no light pollution – perfect for northern lights photography.
All rooms are double twin with private toilet. We provide a bathrobe, towel, slippers, linen, duvet, and pillow. Shower facilities are shared, but with privacy.
Walking per day: 1-3 hours total – often on icy or uneven ground. The Glacier hiking requires flexibility and reasonable fitness level, although it will be at beginners level, it can still be tough. This tour is not for people with weak knees, backs or other injuries… We bring crampons on the tour to take extra care of your safety.
Restrooms: There will be a good flow of restroom stops on this tour.
What to wear: We are in the Arctic and the weather can be windy and brutal in the winter. Therefore it is very important to dress well. Bring good hiking boots and warm socks, windproof and rainproof outer layer, light and warm inner layer, such as wool, fleece or thermal. Also, remember a scarf and gloves. NO trainers. NO city boots.
What to bring (suggestions):
- Clothing for 3 days.
- Water + snacks.
- Camera and tripod.
- Big smiles – since you’ll be an active part of the tour and conversation.
- Hiking boots – light hiking boots with waterproofing and ankle support are preferred.
- Long and short sleeve thermal underwear – Wool or synthetic.
- Rain Jacket with a good hood– Preferably waterproof and breathable material.
- Rain trousers – Waterproof and breathable material.
- Gloves – Wool or synthetic.
- Socks – two to three pairs of hiking socks – Wool or synthetic.
- Warm hat – Wool or synthetic.
- Water bottle.
- Casual clothes / change of clothes.
- Prescription medication and other personal health items.
- Toiletries; Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo etc.
- Camera, spare batteries, and a memory card or films.
- Beverages. We include 1 glass of wine on the second dinner, but you can still bring or other heart-warming spirits if you wish.
- Other gear: Backpack for clothes and items used during the day. Size: 20-30 litres.
- Sunglasses and sun protection.
Luggage: We have enough space in our vehicle for you to bring along your luggage on the tour. But it is helpful if you don’t bring elephant-size luggage 😀
Other gear: Backpack for clothes and items used during the day. Size: 20-30 litres. Sunglasses and sun protection.
Friendly note: We expect you to be an active part of the tour. Join the conversation. Speak up. Ask questions. Share your thoughts. Make new friends. And most of all, remember to enjoy the moment.
You are not alone: As Iceland has become a major hotspot destination, you must expect other tourists around you. On every tour we will aim to get away from the masses, but there will be busy stops too. Instead of being annoyed about it, we try to see the beauty in people coming to admire our pure nature…rather than just another resort with a shopping mall and a theme park.
Beware of busy periods! As ice caving has become the no. 1 popular thing to do in Iceland, you must expect other people in the ice caves, especially around national and international holidays like Christmas, New Year, Chinese New Year, President’s Day.
Ice caves change from season to season: All images you see on our website, are shot on our tours the past seasons. However, ice caves change every season and are reborn with the meltwater from the Summer season, so the ice caves will NOT be exactly like the images you see here. The images can only be used as a guide. We just have to wait and see what Mother Nature makes for us each season.
Pickup Point: We meet at the Goecco office in Reykjavik, on Bankastræti 10. The entrance is on the left side of the building, across the street from Prikið. Meeting time is at 8:45 am, and departure is at 9:00 am.
“3-Day Ice Cave Tour”
5 of 5 stars
“Our group of 8 went for the 3 day Ice Cave Tour and it was an amazing experience. It was a marvelous tour that took you to all best places in South Coast where we got to see all the highlights and given adequate time to enjoy the experience in a not too rushed manner.
The Cottage was splendid and overall excellent tour to take if you have a short time in Iceland.”
Visited March 2017.
“3-Day Ice Cave Tour with Siggi – Amazing!”
5 of 5 stars
“This tour was actually the highlight of my trip to Iceland. Siggi was such a great guide, very knowledgeable, always took us to additional places, made many stops for us to make the driving time so comfortable, and was just generally a great guy.
We had plenty of time to spend in each landmark, to take photos and relax, and stopped for food at convenient times. The drives were nice, with Siggi’s icelandic music, which was actually pretty great.
The highlight of the tour was the ice cave tour. We woke up really early, but it paid off because it meant we were the first tour to arrive to the ice caves and had most of it for ourselves to admire and take photos of.
The dinner in the guesthouse was delicious, and well worth it. There was a ton of food, and we got to socialize with the lovely people on our tour.
The guesthouse is really nice, in a very remote area, with a bathtub outside. Spending time there was magical, even more so when we got a clear night and were able to see the northern lights. Magic!
All in all, I really recommend this tour, it was a great way to see Iceland and meet lots of people in the meantime.”
Visited February 2017.
“3-Day Ice Cave Winter Tour is so MUCH MORE!”
5 of 5 stars
“WE LOVED THE TOUR AND LENNY! First, we felt very lucky and fortunate to have had the opportunity to have the tour become private as no one else had booked. While this is not likely or predictable, it really allowed us to make the most of our tour and customize some areas (like squeezing in the lava fields and plane wreck). Lenny was extremely informative but also allowed us the freedom to enjoy each area however we would like. He gave us knowledgeable information but allowed us to also just take in the scenery and enjoy each moment. He’s an excellent tour guide that is really passionate about what he does and his love for Iceland. Egill, our chef, was also amazing. We had the best dinner and really spent the evening getting to know each other. The lodge was wonderful, clean, spacious and felt like home. Both Lenny and Egill were generous with their time and made us feel welcome each day. Egill is also an amazing DJ and shared his music with us!
I didn’t realize we were amongst the first guests to do the 3-day cave tour! It felt very organized and well structured. It’s a perfect tour for people that have never been to Iceland, don’t have a lot of time and want to see it all. We saw so many different climates and sceneries in such a short period of time. I would highly recommend this tour. Oh yes and lunch in the tomato greenhouse was AMAZING!!! Most unique experience and felt so special. Not many can say they did that. I would have loved to have done that twice, if at all possible!
Some of our favorite moments were the parts that were unscheduled or unplanned. Stopping at the reflecting pools of water as we were driving to our next destination (highly rec this for a great photo op), conversations with Lenny and Egill between all of us, trying traditional icelandic pepper licorice at a market, star gazing in a jacuzzi, bonfire in the yard, climbing into a dark cave to find an amazing waterfall inside and crushing frozen sheets of ice on our walk to the ice caves.
Truthfully, this tour couldn’t have been more perfect. We thank you for your time and all of your excellent communication.
BOOK THIS TOUR!!!”
Visited November 2016.
“Chasing Ice Tour”
5 of 5 stars
“This was an absolutely amazing experience. I can’t possibly rate it highly enough!! We made lots of stops along the way, each time getting a bit of history and information along with a few jokes from Arnar. This alone made it worth the cost as there is no way we would have found all of these places or heard the stories to go along with them on our own. (For example: we went to a lava tunnel which we entered by climbing/sliding down the snow. I never would have jumped down there without some assurance that there was a way out.
Or at least a person with a cellphone and contacts in Iceland…)
The next day we went to the glacier lagoon and into the ice cave. I couldn’t have imagined the beauty of that ice cave even though I’ve seen glaciers and parts of ice caves before. Not only that, but the guides, Halli & Einar were so friendly and excited to talk to us about the glacier and its history. For that matter, they were happy to talk to any of us about anything! Even Jonas, the owner of the company, came out to the caves with us!
It was a long drive back to Reykjavik, but our driver and Arnar made it a great trip. The only additional thing I could have asked for was about a week of just hanging out with the driver and guides! These guys were great and took this absolutely amazing tour to the next level. I will definitely be back and will without question book a tour with Goecco again!”
Visited February 2016
“Worth every penny, and then some!”
5 of 5 stars
“I want to preface by saying this is the first review I’ve ever done on anything. I’m compelled to write a review because I was thoroughly impressed with the experience. I took their tour a few weeks ago. Yes, I was hesitant to shell out almost 500 US dollars across the Atlantic to some company I didn’t know. But it turns out that my instincts were right. Off the bat, my tour guides Arnar and Erla were funny, informative, entertaining and most of all approachable.
Our two day tour included going into batman’s cave, visiting two waterfalls, petting adorable Icelandic horses, going to the small town of Vic, taking pictures of a crystal beach with icebergs spread out looking like diamonds, watching seals lay out, hiking the largest glacier in Europe and the highlight of my winter, exploring an ice cave.
They even fed us a traditional dinner around a communal table complete with ambiance. I felt like a Viking. Give me a chalice and I was set….. oh and breakfast as well. If anyone would try to see all these points separately, it would cost well over a grand. I’m super glad I did this tour and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Thanks Goecco!!!”
Visited February 2016
“Wonderful Chasing ice tour of South Iceland”
5 of 5 stars
“We were met by Arnar our guide on a cold, dark and rainy Monday morning at Hallgrims Church in the centre of Reykjavik. His warm welcome, however, set the scene for the whole trip. Arnar is an artist and drummer with a great sense of humour and an eclectic taste in music and he made a great job of keeping us entertained on some long drives. This certainly turned out to be a trip of a lifetime for us; we had never been to anywhere quite like this before….especially in the winter!
What did we do? We slid into a lava tube in the middle of a a snow covered landscape, visited spectacular waterfalls where the wind was blowing the water sideways, tentatively ventured onto Reynisfjara black sand beach where the wind and waves were ferociously spectacular, enjoyed great views of the snow covered ice cap mountains inland and drove across vast windswept lava fields!! And that was just day 1!
We stayed overnight close to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and enjoyed a lovely roast lamb meal together with plenty of red wine and the company of some really nice people. The weather had dramatically improved by the following morning and we ventured out onto the ice fields in a monster 4×4 truck. It was quite a journey though as we carved our way through the icy waterlogged lava field. A great truck and some superb driving by Halli got us to the ice cave in good shape.
The Ice Cave itself was spectacular and lived up to our high expectations. The blue colour of the ice was something amazing, unlike anything any of us had seen before. The Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon was saved for the afternoon and what a sight to see these electric blue icebergs making their way from the glacier across the lagoon out to sea where the waves would toss them onto the black sand beach. It was a totally surreal scene to see these ice blue and crystal clear icebergs strewn across on the beach.
It was a long drive back to Reykjavik but this was a trip that we will never forget and was worth every penny. I can’t recommend this trip highly enough. Thank you Goecco!! Paul & Sue”
Visited February 2016
“One of the best times of my life!”
5 of 5 stars
“The Goecco team were simply amazing. They turned a trip that started out as a nightmare into one of the best times of my life. I experienced racism (not a settle one either) from the flight attendant on Icelandic Air to the bus driver on the Flybus. When I arrived at my friend’s apartment, I wrote to Jonas & Christina (owner of Goecco) one of the most uncomfortable letter I have ever written.
They were very sad to hear my experiences. They assured me nothing like that would happen to me with the Goecco Team. In fact we had the legend Halli Hansen as our tour guide who works on most international movies and one of the most caring person you would ever meet.
I had the time of my life. The Ice cave was the most amazing sight. The lava cave, the black beach, secret waterfalls, glacier walk, Glacial Lagoon, the 3 course dinner, the Northern light and just spending time with Christina, Jonas and their beautiful 2 year old girl was one of the highlights of my trip.
Thank you TEAM GOECCO.”
Visited December 2015
“Great way to see most of Iceland!”
5 of 5 stars
“I visited Iceland in November 2015 and did the 2 day ice cave tour with GoEcco. It was wonderful. I was picked up from my hotel and then we made stops at others to pick up people. I made life long friends from the trip. not hard to do when you are all traveling in a van for 2 days straight. Our guides Halli and Arnar were wonderful. They were patient with all of us letting us see each of the attractions (Batman cave, secret waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, skogafoss, black sand beach, Vik, vatnajökull glacier lagoon) for as long as we wanted to.
They responded to all our questions about Iceland (history, politics, music). We also got a wonderful dinner that they prepared. It might seem like a lot of money but totally worth it when you consider you visit most of the Southern coast. Hiking on the glacier was one of my favorite activities because it’s not something you could do just anywhere. I saw another tour company there and witnessed how poorly the guide treated its clients. GoEcco was never like that and I recommend them 1000X.”
Visited November 2015.
“Not an Excursion… An Adventure of a lifetime!”
5 of 5 stars
“I went out with Jonas and Siggy on March 16, 2014. we drove between 800 and 900 kilometers that day through all sorts of weather, and these guys seriously took us an a wild adventure of a lifetime. Please note: if you want to sit on the bus and see the countryside, but not really feel it, don’t read any further…there are other large bus companies that will take you for a ride. Goecco is about adventure and experiencing some really fantastic parts of Iceland that you won’t see elsewhere…at least not in this way.
First, we receive note that the rivers in the ice cave we will be visiting will run high…bring extra shoes, socks and clothes…in my rush to get out the door over to Hallsgrimm’s Church, I forget these essentials…more on that later…the day would be fierce with intermittent periods of sunshine and blue skies only to be swallowed up by snowstorms and rain…it was amazing and frighteningy ll at the same time.
We started from Hallgrimm’s Church at 7:45 (I had left my hotel at 7:15 to drop off my bag at the next point of stay, the Hilton Nordica, and then over to the Church). We would not get back to the Hilton until 2:15 am Monday local time. We would end up traveling between 800 and 900 km during the day…truly exhausting and made up my mind that i would not even think of planning a Monday morning excursion (whale watching or horseback riding).
We started off at the Batman cave, a slippery trailed path over lava to an entrance where they filmed Batman Begins…once I got my footing I made my way down into the fairly light cave filled with snow piles under each skylight (each skylight was easily 58 meters wide). We spent a few minutes here with our guide Jonas and our driver Siggy. Both have done this work here and in other countries for many years and have been friends for what appeared to be their whole lives…good people..
Next, we picked up a couple of people in Selfoss making our vehicle full and moving me up the the front seat, which really has a great view on a small bus. We headed off to a secret waterfall within 100 meters to the west of the world famous Seljalandsfoss water falls.
In between two towering walls in the same cliffside as Seljalandsfoss, there existed a narrow entrance into this hidden waterfall. It was no less than 30 meters in a single drop into a pool with mosscovered rocks…just gorgeous…
We drove on south towards Vik where the basalt columns stand. They were no less impressive today than when I saw them a couple days prior. I was now taking pictures with my iPhone (my DSLR drowned in the secret waterfall honestly, i am still not disappointed). Jonas was quite the gent and would soon loan me a very serviceable Canon Powershot G11 that I ended up using the rest of the trip (thank you, Jonas!).
The wind coming from the North blows across glaciers and it turns 23 celsius temperatures to 8 very quickly much like how the lake effect causes northerlies to chill and become more frigid in the upper midwest US. Needless to say we were all happy to get out of the cold and head off to lunch in Vik. I had heard that meat soup was a Good Iceland dish…it is basically lamb stew and with a bit of bread warms the bones and fills the belly.
Off we drove. Vik is close as the southernmost point of Iceland you can get, although there is another nearby town (name escapes me) that gets that distinction. We could see the Westman (Deadman) Islands off to the west, but now we would be heading East towards Eyjafjallajökull (the volcano that sent European travelers to panic on its eruption in 2010 stranding millions and creating mass devestation in the Southeast of Iceland) and then north up the east coast of Iceland towards Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in all Europe. It covers over 8,300 square kilometers and makes up greater than 10% of Iceland’s landmass.
On the way up to the Glacier, we stopped in the lava fields where you see twists of molten lava past now black and covered in beautiful moss that feels like the plushest carpet (about 4 centimeters deep). In this field, we drove on the old road that people used before the Ring Road, the circumferential road navigating around the whole of Iceland, was completed in the mid 1970s. We barely make it across the bumpy road with lava about 40 centimeters space on either side of the bus (quite the squeeze) at times.
A bit further northeast we hit the great black sand desert where volcano eruptions past and the minerals here create a sand dessert similar to the black sand beaches seen in Hawaii, but this desert dwarfs those beaches by hundreds or thousands of times over.
Now we are enter Vatnajökull and drive for many kilometers coming closer but it seeming so far away…
Our first stop, quite awhile later is the largest glacier flow, on Iceland, where the glacier melts and refreezes from eruptions as well as the a glacier’s natural tendency to move forward and then recede.
Now, this particular “Express” excursion I booked not because I knew anything about the Goecco, but the things we would see this day. I wanted two things: 1) Vik and the Basalt Columns, and 2) Jökulsárlón, the Glacier Lagoon. The latter is a deep blue lagoon with small glaciers floating around it (small in terms of the glaciers like Vatnajökull and Eyjafjallajökull the glaciers in this lagoon dwarf houses, buildings and many other large objects).
Jökulsárlón was truly the impetus to go on this crazy trip to the East. You have the lagoon itself, with huge glaciers, then notice little dark heads peaking out (no pictures sorry my loaner camera simply didn’t have the range)…seals playing and fishing in the frigid waters. I love seals. Soon it was time to go and I had taken my fill of pics of the lagoon. But, Jökulsárlón has another side to it…a dryer and wetter side beyond a bridge that connects the Ring Road on either side of the lagoon drift out glaciers towards the Atlantic Ocean and towards the black beaches of Jökulsárlón.
When we drove over to the beach, I volunteered (of course), to fetch a few missing members of our party that had gone to this part of the lagoon, and I remembered the pictures of glaciers against black sand…today, they were mainly in the Ocean, but still beautiful nonetheless. Jökulsárlón was worth the 400+ kilometers we had driven to this point.
The sight of it, on either side of the bridge, was breathtaking and makes me now, two weeks later, long for Iceland. I miss the cold winds and the breathtaking beauty of it all. Weird, since most of us are trying to just dig ourselves out of Winter, and I want more cold. I was cold. It was 5:30 pm local time. We had been on the road for 10 hours and Jonas, our lessthanconventional viking guide (I say that with the highest amount of respect), had left one more pilgrimage to the Ice Cave (don’t ask me its name if Jonas told us, I didn’t hear him).
Due to the extremely rough roads leading towards the ice caves, we had to stop the bus about a mile short and walk on fairly difficult terrain. It was one of the reasons we didn’t go to the Ice Cave before Jökulsárlón. If someone had twisted an ankle or worse yet, broke something, they would have missed out on the Glacier Lagoon. And, as we would find out breaking something would be a very real possibility.
The terrain was dirt, sand and lava patches. If one didn’t take care, they were taking a header, and I am famous for my headers. We all embarked on the hike leaving the warmth and dry of the bus behind and heading out into what looked like a beautiful, but brutal wasteland mountains and more of Vatnajökull. The sun was going down and the wind was strong. It was cold and after awhile we hiked beside a raging stream the same stream that we would end up needing to ford if we wanted to go deep within the cave.
We finally got to the Ice Cave, and yes, it was interesting, beautiful in its own stark manner. The stream, which roared like a river, didn’t calm down inside the cave. It was about a 2/3 of a meter high and raged at anyone daring to cross. Several of us dared after seeing Siggy cross. Of course, he and Jonas were experienced at this. Siggy crossed using trekking poles that must be the secret. It wasn’t.
He helped one girl cross as I descended the icy stairs into the dark oblivion of the cave. Then Jonas wanted volunteers to cross. I had been consulting with a gentleman from New York who said there was no way he would cross. He had been in ice caves in Alaska, and they were great, but it wasn’t worth getting wet and cold over…I replied I had not been in ice caves in Alaska and found myself the next volunteer.
On my second step into the zero celsius water, I nearly got swept over (thanks for the hand, Siggy). I trudged across the 12 feet of stream now above my knees and climbed up onto the other side cold, but happy to make the journey. I had no idea what lay ahead (okay, I’ll stop with the drama think walking the mile back in wet pants, shoes and socks filled with zero degree water across rocky and desert terrain that’s what lay ahead).
The colors were beautiful. Tubes ascended up through the ice and showed meter patches of fading blue skies. Pictures out the main entrance and where the stream exited the cave were made more dynamic by the full walls of ice reflecting blue, purple and other colors reflected all around.
I laid on the ground under a huge block of ice larger than my house and evidently unstable taking pictures of the structure only a meter and half above. It was gorgeous and breathtaking, and evidently deadly. After one of my fellow excursion mates took a couple of pictures of me in the Ice Cave, Jonas yelled “Time to go!! Been there too long!!”
Siggy helped us across the frigid waters and back to the relative calm of the safe side. I exited up the icy steps and the reality of what I had done hit me I would be walking back in soggy, cold shoes, with freezing calves and knees. Like i said before, this was an adventure you feel, not just one you observe, an now I was feeling it. We all walked a bit waiting for the rest of the group to come and filling the cold air around us. We had now been out for nearly 12 hours, and we had another 400 kilometers to go. It was 7:00 p.m. The tour had been scheduled to end at 7:45 local time. Something told me that wouldn’t happen.
Finally, we all assembled as a group and trudged our way up dirt and sand hills several meters tall to take a “short cut” all of us scrambling in our tired and now (for several of us) somewhat colder states.
We all finally made it back to the bus and Siggy drove around rough mounds of dirt, sand, ash and lava rock. He skirted this way and that and all the while the bus, which had been full of chatter earlier, was silent as a church during Sacrament. I don’t think any of us had energy to move our lips much less do another “event”. We were cooked.
It was awesome.
A couple of hours passed and we got food in a small town at a stop that was probably the only one still open (many businesses close in early afternoon on Sundays in Iceland whether it’s Reykjavik or Hofn). Honestly, the food left a bit to be desired, but the company was good including Marissa from San Diego, a fellow photographer / IT nerd from San Francisco, and our Barcelonan travel queen, currently based in Helsinki, Finland…They were all great company and we talked on until we headed off towards the highlands.
Back towards Reykjavik we drove and the snow came down. This time it wasn’t too bad. It was now around 10:30 and all was okay. We were fed, we were tired. My socks and boots were demolished (well, VERY wet anyway), and I just chilled in the front seat (quite literally).
We dropped Off a couple in Selfoss and then headed home…it would be slow going. It was near midnight as we started to head towards the pass that would drop us down into Reykjavik. The day had been beautiful throughout most of it with sporadic snow showers, but mainly blue skies above and sun shining bright in the +2 Celsius weather (which, when you’re dressed for it feels just great). Now it was 2 Celsius, the snow had increased and Siggy pointed out lights that appeared to be airplanes…they were cars coming slowly down the pass.
Snow was falling well now and the winds roared…The snow drifted all up the windy road and the only indicators of the curve of the road were the well placed reflectors along the side.
We drove on, the snow increased, the wind blew higher, and then it decreased, the wind whispered rather than roared and we finally were able to resume normal speeds of 70 km/hr (I believe we had been going about 40 km/hr or slower). After that, I would trust Siggy to drive my kids through weather like this. He’s a real pro.
It was now 1:30 am local time. Jonas asked me what my favorite thing on the trip was Jökulsárlón and the hidden waterfall…and the
ice cave. The fact that we were truly excursioning, not just dropping by a site here or there. This was adventure on steroids. As I told Jonas several times this day “I’ve never been more cold, wet and miserable…my camera is dead. I’m soaking wet. And, this is the best adventure I’ve ever been on.” And, I’ve been on some good ones…this one just got the blood pumping and made me feel VIKING.”
Visited March 2014.
3-Day TourSmall Group Tour
- private room for solo travelers 1.350 USD,-