Iceland is known for having some of the most mesmerizing yet unforgiving and unpredictable terrain in the entire world. Being home to such terrain is what drives adrenaline junkies to travel from all corners of the globe to experience it. I should know from experience because I am one of those adrenaline junkies, which I speak of.
When I booked my trip to Iceland and started planning my itinerary, I knew I had to incorporate some sort of heart pumping action into it and what better place to fuel that desire than The Land of Fire & Ice. After looking into all the adventure activities that I could possibly throw myself into, one stood out to me more than anything else; snowmobiling on Iceland’s second largest ice cap – Langjökull Glacier. I excitedly booked my tour and not so patiently awaited the day of the adventure.
When the day finally came to head to Langjökull, we were told to meet our guides from Mountaineers of Iceland at Gullfoss bright and early, so off we went. Upon arriving for our tour nice and early, we noticed the massive super truck waiting in the parking lot, only to see it drive away again down the road. Was it coming back? We had no idea and we were scheduled to leave for the glacier in 20 minutes. I searched around the parking lot for another tour operator to call the company for us from his local phone. Thankfully he was able to get a hold of someone only to find out that our tour was moved from 10am to noon due to crazy weather up at Langjökull. The weather was so severe that the guides had to rush to the glacier to groom new trails for us because the old trail was gone. Good to know! You can’t mess with the powerful force of Mother Nature…especially in Iceland!
To kill the time, we sat inside the Gullfoss Café, grabbed a coffee and a snack and waited for our guides to return. When noon rolled around, we were told to meet outside in the parking lot at the Super Truck and wait for attendance name call. Walking up to the Super Truck was like walking up to something out of the movie Transformers. This thing had the front end of a transport truck, the structure of an army vehicle and the interior of a luxury coach. It was insane and totally amazing! I felt like I was walking up to some sort of monster truck.
I climbed up into the truck and grabbed a window seat so that I would be able to enjoy the view along the way up to Langjökull, while adventuring through the rugged Highlands of Iceland. Once everyone was boarded, the truck roared to life with a low and intimidating rumble and off we went! As we drove further and further down the F-Road that leads to Langjökull, the landscape drastically changed from green, mossy landscapes to rough, boulder covered roads that looked like we had been transported to another world. Driving on the F-Roads in Iceland don’t only require a 4×4 vehicle by law, they also require some mad driving skills and these guys from Mountaineers of Iceland definitely had the necessary means of getting us to the glacier safely. From navigating over massive rocks, down steep gravel filled roads to crossing rivers, our monster truck could handle it all with ease, even though at some points of the journey it felt like we were going to tip over, but hey, it’s all just part of the thrilling experience!
After an hour of extreme off-roading and bouncing around in the Super Truck, the glacier base camp was starting to come into view. The Mountaineers of Iceland have a few glacial huts at the base of Langjökull; one of which they are able to kick back and relax in after a long day of snowmobiling (tough life, right?) while the other huts are used to get visitors suited up in the proper gear for the ride and they even have one for events and weddings. Talk about having a unique wedding venue!
Once we arrived at the hut with all the riding gear, we all disembarked from the truck, headed inside and started to get fitted with gear that included a thick, padded snowsuit, helmet, gloves and even a balaclava to keep our faces warm. They even have boot covers just in case the boots you are wearing are not waterproof. The Mountaineers of Iceland are well prepared and have all the necessary gear you’ll need for a fun and safe day of snowmobiling, so don’t feel as if you need to pack a snowsuit with you in your luggage when travelling to Iceland. Ain’t nobody got room for THAT! After getting suited up what I called the thick Michelin Man snowmobile suit and rocking that late 1980’s helmet that I somehow always get stuck with during any adventure excursion I go on (Read about my Malta ATV helmet experience HERE), we boarded the monster truck once again to get driven to the glacier to meet up with the snowmobile guide.
Sitting in the truck with all the gear on was starting to make me sweat. Yes it was snowing out and yes all the gear is necessary, but my GOD was I boiling up and I even opted to NOT wear my coat under the suit. Luckily I made that choice, or I would’ve probably passed right out from the heat. As soon as I thought to take my gear off, we came to an abrupt halt. This was the final stop, as we had finally arrived at Langjökull. I hopped off the truck and inhaled the fresh glacial air. The wind was viciously blowing me around, making it almost hard to stand upright at times. I could see our snow stallions in the distance all lined up and waiting for us to ride them. I was pumped at this point, anticipation levels maxed, adrenaline flowing, and I wasn’t even on the sled yet.
Read more: Inspired by Iceland – The Land of Fire & Ice
The guides from Mountaineers of Iceland are all highly skilled at riding snowmobiles, safety trained and extremely professional. They want to make sure you are briefed on safety and they take it VERY seriously, but they also stress to have fun while being safe. I couldn’t agree more. Our guide quickly showed us the ropes, told us to stay behind one another and to always follow his lead and never go off track, as there could be hidden crevasses, holes and even large hidden rocks. They know the glacier like the back of their hands, so I wasn’t going to question anything they said, even though it would’ve been incredible just to openly rip along the glacier without a care in the world.
As I hopped onto my electric blue Yamaha Venture, turned on the engine and familiarized myself with the throttle and brake (I ride motorcycles, so for me, the brake was opposite, which took some getting used to), we slowly pulled off one by one behind our guide until we were all in one uniform line. Gradually gaining more speed, the wind was forcefully pushing me in opposite directions of which I was leaning against, so I had to make sure to basically throw my entire weight around the seat and crank the handlebars at the same time. The glacier had little snow on the trail at this point in the year, so it was basically shards of ice, which made for one slippery ride. Sitting down and steering was somewhat hard for me, so for a lot of the ride, I found myself standing up, which gave me much more control over the sled, while cruising through turns, especially ones that were downhill and on an angle. At some points, I felt like I was going to tip the sled and bail, but I just gave it some more gas, crouched down, leaned hard into my turns and hoped for the best. It seemed to work for me, so that’s a good thing!
Thirty minutes into the ride, we came to a stop in a wide open area of Langjökull, high above sea level surrounded by a brisk and blustery white out. During calmer weather, you’re able to admire the beautiful vista and epic scenery from atop the glacier, but not today! The snow was blowing, the wind was howling and visibility was next to none. With all that being said, it was still one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life to be surrounded by such seclusion on Europe’s second largest glacier. I felt like a total badass. After a few photos and some short video footage on my phone (my mount on my Safari camera couldn’t be placed anywhere that would get decent shots, and I didn’t have a helmet with a mount option during this outing. Guess I’ll have to come back!*wink wink*) it was time to head back down to the starting point.
As we made our way back down the glacier, I decided to open up the throttle a bit more while standing up to really get my adrenaline pumping some more. At one point, the cold, wet snow was hitting my face and felt like little ice pellets against my skin. I couldn’t have the visor down the whole time because my glasses would just fog up like crazy, so I just took the pain and enjoyed the ride. I mean, I am sledding on a glacier…in ICELAND!
When we had the starting point back in sight, we were signaled to pull in our sleds into a row formation as we received them. Once parked, I hit the kill switch, jumped off and looked back at what I had just come down from. My whole body was sore from throwing it from side to side, hitting icy bumps and battling gale force winds, but I was loving it. My adrenaline levels were soaring and I wanted to jump back on my sled and have another rip! What an amazing feeling.
Snowmobiling on Langjökull with the Mountaineers of Iceland was everything I expected it to be and so much more. Their professionalism and dedication to our group’s safety exceeded my expectations and I highly recommend doing this tour with them if you’re ever in Iceland. The tour is as much for the nature lover, as it is the adrenaline junkie. It will definitely be an experience you won’t forget and you’ll definitely want to do it again. I know I do!
- Who: Mountaineers of Iceland
- Website: https://mountaineers.is/
- Meeting Time & Place: Gullfoss Café at 10am, noon, 2:30pm (check site for updated times)
- Cost: Check website for updated tour costs
- Operates: All Year
- Included: 1 Hour Snowmobile ride, Thick Snowsuit, Gloves, Helmet, Pick-Up & Drop-Off at Gullfoss Café
- Not Included: Food, Shoes/Boots
- Wear: Layers and Waterproof Boots/Shoes
- Tour Duration: From Pick-Up to Drop-Off is about 4-5 hours total
*Must possess a valid driver’s license to ride the snowmobiles*
A big thank you to the Mountaineers of Iceland for showing me such an amazing and adventurous day! I had an absolute blast!