After our visit to the Tectonic Plates, the Strokkur Geysir and Gullfoss, it was finally time for the main event of the day – snowmobiles to the glacier! When we booked the excursions for the day, we were told that the whole trip, with 4 stops, will take about 12 hours to complete. It was 14:00 in the afternoon and we already covered 3 of the 4 activities in just 5 hours, so we didn’t really understand how the snowmobiles can take up the remaining 7 hours, but as we started our journey to the snow cap, the reason for the extra time quickly revealed itself.

You see, unlike Finland, where a bus picks you up at the hotel and drops you off at the place where you get your snowmobile, Iceland is way more tricky and needs a lot more prep work to make the excursion happen. From Gullfoss, we drove in our normal tour bus to a remote location for about an hour before we got to an open field with a huge sign that read “no ordinary vehicles allowed beyond this point”. From here, we swapped our normal bus for a customised 8-wheel drive as shown below:

After a very bumpy ride that took about an hour, we were dropped off at the foot of the mountain where, believe it or not, we had to swap vehicles once more as even this, semi military-grade truck couldn’t get us all the way to the top. So there we were, dropped off in the middle of nowhere, looking up to a huge mountain that was covered by snow. After waiting around for about 40 minutes, this bad boy showed up:

I’d like to point out two things about this photo that you need to keep in mind before I continue:

  1. Notice the chains around the wheels (all the wheels except the front two) and;
  2. Look at the windows, they are completely covered in ice as if the truck was dunked in the snow

When the new truck arrived, we were told to fasten our seatbelts because, in the likely event that we tip over, we don’t want anyone to fall (or fly) around in the truck. No jokes. Seriously, not making this up. After checking that everyone is safely strapped in, we started our climb to the top of the Langjökull snow cap, the second-largest snow cap in Iceland.

I’m not going to lie, but the 70 minutes that followed were, without any doubt, the toughest and roughest experience we’ve ever had on any excursion in any country. You see, the snow on Langjökull is over 500 metres thick (yes you read it right) and the highest point is 1450 metres above sea level. This means our truck had to find the best and safest route, from the foot of the mountain to the camp at the top, without tipping over or sinking in too deep that we risk being buried underneath tons of snow. This is the reason for the chains on the wheels, it gave us extra traction when we got stuck. And we did get stuck. Multiple times. Whilst battling our way to the top, the truck would suddenly sink into the heavy snow, completely covered from bottom to top, which is the reason why the windows are all covered with snow and ice. Every time this happened, the driver would keep the wheels spinning until the chains around the wheels dug its way down onto the solid snow that enabled us to keep moving. There were 4 moments on the way up and 2 moments on the way down where we had to hold for dear life as we were certain the truck was going to tip over, but luckily it never did. It was the most bizarre ride we’ve ever experienced and I won’t blame you if you think I’m making all of this up, but as God and Elaine as my witnesses, it happened.

On the way up, my life’s highlights flashed through my mind several times, but finally, we made it to the top. We geared up in their super warm arctic onesies and then embarked on our sunset snowmobile ride over the snow cap to the glacier. When we stopped at the lookout point about 25 minutes later, the view was breathtakingly beautiful as you can see miles and miles of massive mountain ranges, the glacier and the reflection of the sun on the untouched snow that covered the world around us. It’s one of those very moments when you can’t help but wonder how some people can look at this beautiful creation and still doubt God’s existence.

At last light, we made it back to the camp on the snowmobiles and then we started the long way back to the Capital. It was a very long day with beautiful views and a few near-death experiences, but if you ask me if we’d do it again, I can confidently say – absolutely!