Extreme Iceland experience. Posted by hulda on Feb 5, 2015 in Uncategorized
Though the winter is still here some people are already hard at work preparing for the oncoming summer and the Iceland-journeyers it will bring along. If you’re planning a trip here this year and want to see something you could never see anywhere else in the world I’ve got some tips for you on things you should definitely not miss – but start planning now, because although I’m no völva (= an Icelandic seeress/prophetess) I foresee they’ll be very, extremely popular!
Ice Tunnel under Langjökull Glacier (link)
The big news of today over here is that the tunnel is almost ready. You probably knew that going on the glaciers is an option here, given that you’ve got an experienced guide with you (the glaciers can and have often been deadly to tourists wandering on them alone). Now, however, you can also go under one of them! The work at cutting a tunnel into the ice is nearing completion in the oncoming weeks and as it is it’s the longest ice tunnel of all Europe.
Í raun er íshellirinn, sem er að verða tilbúinn, hringlaga göng sem ná um 200 metra inn í jökulinn á 30 metra dýpi. „En þegar þú labbar hringinn eru þetta tæpir 400 metrar og lengra þegar krókar og kimar eru meðtaldir,“ segir Sigurður.
= In reality the ice cave, that’s about to be finished, is a round tunnel/walkway that reaches 200m into the glacier at 30m depth. “But when you walk the whole ring it’s about 400m, and even longer when hooks and caves/recesses are added up”, says Sigurður.
Lonely Planet took notice of the idea while work was still underway (link), but as you can see the tunnel has since grown for about 100m in total length.
Vatnshellir Lava Tunnel at Snæfellsnes (link)
Just in case ice is not your thing Iceland also offers the other extreme option, lava tunnels. 😀 The cave and tunnel system is a tube that’s formed in lava, reaching to 2oom distance and 35m depth under the ground. Again, not a place where you’re allowed to go alone, remember to book a guided tour. The tours are fairly cheap and the guides are quite knowledgeable about the area, how the tunnel came to be and how to stay safe while inside it, so it’ll be well worth the money.
This tunnel is not for the claustrophobic, nor for people with difficulties moving around I’m afraid. There’ll be many staircases to take you deep under the ground and it’s good to be prepared for some exercise in cold surroundings. That said, it’s not a hard route to go, taking children with you is totally fine and you’ll be provided with a helmet and a torch by the company that arranges the tours.
Crater of a Dormant Volcano (link)
Þríhnúkagígur is actually not that far from Capital City area (link)! This tour goes inside a huge cave in a volcano that technically speaking is still active, and according to the two people that I know who have visited it the place is absolutely breathtaking.
This is another place where you’ll have to be of a moderate level of fitness, since getting to the place means hiking the last part of the trip and there’s some way to walk once you reach your destination inside the crater, after a stomach-turning descend in an open cable lift into 120m depth. The weather around the area will be very different from what it is in Reykjavík even though it’s fairly near, and the crater itself will be quite cold and humid so like the web page says, don’t attempt it in jeans and sneakers.
The web page has a video of how the cave looks like, but I found two others that are equally worth a look here and here. I was so not kidding about the descent being stomach-turning…
Is everything too cold for your liking? Well, there’s one definitely warm option:
Fly over Holuhraun (link)(link)
The volcanic eruption that began months ago is still going strong. There’s no telling how long it will last although the actual, real völva who predicted the year 2015 at the start of the year did say it might come to an end before summer, but hey, it’s a winning situation both ways. If the eruption does end the area might be opened for viewing, at least the parts that are safe to enter. If not, the volcano flights will definitely continue! Just a heads-up though: the völva also said there would be a new volcanic eruption somewhere east of Hekla, so who knows just how many volcano viewing options there’ll be.
(In case you’re also interested in what more the völva had to say her prophesy can be read in its entirety here, with Larissa explaining the tradition behind her work in great detail.)
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Ooh, we went to Þríhnúkagígur ! It truly was stunning, an unforgettable highlight of our Iceland trip. I highly recommend it.
Þríhnúkagígur er fallegur! (I don’t know the word for “fantastic”, so “beautiful” will have to do!)
@Janet “Frábær” means fantastic, although in this particular case fallegur is very accurate as well. Þríhnúkagígur er frábærlega fallegur!