We start our day at 10am with a tour of Svínafellsjökull glacier by Icelandic Mountain Guides (IMG). We meet at the IMG office in the Vatnajökull National Park Visitors Centre, get kitted up with a pair of crampons and an ice-pick each, then drive the short distance to the part of the glacier we will be walking on – the one we visited the night before behind our hotel!
Our guide, Linn, gives us a rundown of how to safely walk on the glacier and we begin our tour. As we start, we pass a group of tourists leaving the glacier, Linn asks them if they are experienced in glacier-walking and checks that they have appropriate gear. Linn explains that because tourism in Iceland is still fairly new, a lot of tourists can put themselves into dangerous situations if they are unfamiliar with the area and conditions. He explains that guides like himself always check that tourists know what they’re doing and will advise someone to turn back if they are not properly equipped.
During the 2-hour walk we explore the glacier, view the beautiful blue ice in deep crevasses, and take countless photos to try and capture the beauty of our surroundings. Linn also talks about some of the TV and movie scenes that have been filmed on the glacier – Batman Begins, Interstellar, Game of Thrones.
After driving back to the visitor centre and returning our gear, we follow the path to view Svartifoss, a waterfall featuring incredible basalt columns resembling a pipe organ. The path is muddy and slippery, but worth the walk. We marvel at the unique formations and taste the fresh water from the waterfall – something we would not do at home.
We hit the road and travel to Jökulsárlón, the glacier lagoon. This is another tourist hotspot, with visitors lining the shore to snap pictures of oddly-shaped glaciers floating out to sea, seals and birds fishing, and to touch the chunks of ice that float onto the shore. It’s a beautiful spot, and really lovely in the afternoon light.
We finish the afternoon by driving to our evening’s accommodation in Höfn, a tidy little town in Iceland’s east. Pete went out to look for aurora at night but had no luck.