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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

12 September 2021

Rain, wind, fog, ice, fire

Into the Glacier

Into the Glacier

23 August 2021

Rain, wind and fog: an Icelandic farewell. The last three days of our trip have been such a contrast for weather with our journey around the island. We had in mind a hike up to Glymur, the second highest waterfall in the country, but a three hour walk with gale winds blowing rain in our faces just isn’t appealing.

Iceland can’t even do cloudy weather normally. It’s so common here for the clouds to come pretty much down to the ground, and occasionally you can even get lucky and drive up through them, like we did at Hafrahvammagljufur. Anyway, this wild weather is at least more interesting than the slab grey of most rainy English days and the fjord we drove along to get to our final activity was moody with atmosphere. Literally.

To live in Iceland

To live in Iceland

Our final activity was also our only organised activity: Into The Glacier, a chance to walk through a tunnel bored deep into Langjokull. Neat fact, that. Apart from a couple of car park charges everything else we’ve done in Iceland has been completely free. Apparently it’s government policy not to allow or encourage “entry fees” for natural places.

The glistening interior of a glacier looked exactly as you would imagine. Water dripped and dribbled from the ceiling everywhere and there were plenty of puddles on the icy floor. It was very cool (haha) and unique.

Of course it also reminded me why we prefer doing our own thing to organised activities! Herding forty people onto a coach for a 40 minute bumpy drive up to base camp. Then herding forty people into a hut where the ones who didn’t dress appropriately take forever picking out jackets and overboots to wear. Then herding forty people onto an ice truck for the (admittedly cool) drive over the glacier itself to the tunnel. Mandatory over-cheerful guide peppering his informative talk with lame jokes all the way. Then herding forty people into the tunnel antechamber to collect crampons. Only ready to go when the clumsiest, slowest person finally gets their crampons on with some help. Then the tour! And then the whole thing in reverse, and again all at the pace of whoever is slowest.

Living lava, Geldingadalur

Living lava, Geldingadalur

Did I say our final activity? Not quite! Today was a day of ice and fire. There’s a volcano currently erupting only 18km from Reykjavik airport, Geldingadalur, and although it’s now in the “big black river of rocky lava moving too slow to see” phase there still aren’t many chances in life to go right up to an active lava flow. So we did. It was windy, foggy and drizzly but at least the lava flow was warm! In true Icelandic style, there weren’t any barriers or warning signs, you could have just clambered straight up onto the lava (and died horribly). I did poke the very edge with my boot.

The rain started coming down heavier as we tramped back in the growing darkness. We got to our airport hotel at 9:30, just in time for last orders from the kitchen. We’ve frankly stretched every day in Iceland to the max and now badly need a holiday, but it was worth it. Iceland. Complete freak of nature.

Icelandic ponies

Icelandic ponies


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