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Is This The Best Way To Explore Iceland?

Is This The Best Way To Explore Iceland?

Iceland is a land of rugged and diverse landscapes with much of the country inaccessible to the average vehicle. As a consequence, the typical tourist has absolutely no idea just how much they’re missing out on by sticking to the designated roads!

If you truly want to see the best of Iceland, you need to get off-road and a super jeep adventure tour with Mountain Taxi is the best way for you to do it!

Oskar, an ex-rally car driver, was our tour guide on the Iceland in a Nutshell and Thórsmörk & Eyjafjallajökull day trips we took and often we felt like we were on a movie set during these tours. Not only were we enveloped by surreal scenery the entire time we were on the road, we also drove across terrain that you just wouldn’t think possible.

Driving Across Langjökull Glacier

After departing Reykjavik via a short stop at Þingvellir, our Mountain Taxi took to the unpaved Kaldidalur route towards Langjökull Glacier. Yes – we were about to go driving on a glacier!

Driving on the Kaldidalur Route

Driving on the Kaldidalur Route - visibility is very low!

As our Mountain Taxi ascended higher, the snow cover started to thicken until we faced a blanket of pure white (see the photo above!). The other two members in our tour group began questioning whether we should turn back as we couldn’t see a thing but Oskar was having none of it!

Our Mountain Taxi was equipped with all the gadgets necessary to tell us exactly where we were driving despite the low visibility. The only concern was the tyre pressure so Oskar stopped the car and got out to reduce it from 28PSI (normal conditions) to just 2PSI for the difficult snow and we persevered towards the glacier.

Glacier river flowing through Langjökull glacier

Glacier river flowing through Langjökull glacier

The bumpy and slightly frightening ride was well worth it as we were rewarded with spectacular landscapes and thick, plentiful snow. Coming from Australia, the snow was a novelty for us so we made sure to make the most of it!

Kieron making the most of the snow cover on the glacier

Kieron making the most of the snow cover on the glacier

We threw snowballs, made snow angels and snapped plenty of photos before reluctantly getting back into the jeep for the next adventure of the day.

Amy and Oskar on Langjökull glacier

Amy and Oskar on Langjökull glacier

On A Lava Field and Into A Lava Cave

Mountain Taxi on Hallmundarhraun lava field

Mountain Taxi on Hallmundarhraun Lava Field

Not long after leaving the glacier on our Iceland in a Nutshell tour, we reached the center of the Hallmundarhraun Lava Field as our Mountain Taxi came to stop. We stepped out and were handed headlamps by Oskar as he led the way across the lava field to the Surtshellir Lava Tube and asked us if we wanted to see inside a cave. Wait a minute, what?!

Oskar leading the way into Surtshellir Lava Cave

Oskar leading the way into Surtshellir Lava Tube Cave

We didn’t really think about it for too long – of course we answered yes! We had seen Thurston Lava Tube on the Big Island in Hawaii but these lava caves were much more authentic – they are untouched and in the same condition they were hundreds of years ago when they were inhabited by local outlaws.

Amy in the Lava Cave

Amy in the Lava Tube Cave

As we climbed down the rocks and into the darkness of the cave, we realized that this was definitely something we weren’t planning on doing during our time in Iceland but was an extremely amazing experience and one we felt privileged to be having!

Roof of the Surtshellir Lava Tube

Roof of the Surtshellir Lava Tube

Across a Black Sand Beach

Super jeeps on black sand beach in Southern Iceland

Super jeeps on black sand beach in Southern Iceland

On our second Mountain Taxi tour, it didn’t take long before our super jeep was off-road on our way to Thórsmörk and faced with massive black sand dunes. The vehicle weaved through and climbed over these sand dunes and took us to a beautiful black sand beach on the southern coast of Iceland.

Black sand beach

Black sand beach

With views of the Westman Islands, it was a gorgeous place to spend some time and learn more about how supplies and utilities are transported across the ocean to the Island.

Minke whale bones on beach

Minke whale bones on beach

There were also some interesting things to see on the beach including a Minke Whale skeleton and a wooden shipwreck that had been there for at least 50 years. The most impressive thing though was that we were on an isolated black sand beach and would have never seen this if it wasn’t for the Mountain Taxi.

The Base of Gigjökull Glacier

Mountain Taxi At The Base of Gigjökull Glacier

Mountain Taxi at the base of Gigjökull Glacier

When Eyjafjallajökull erupted in April 2010, the ice on Gigjökull glacier melted and created a catastrophic flood as it made its way out to sea. In order to bring us to the base of Gigjökull, Oskar drove our Mountain Taxi effortlessly over large boulders and across flowing glacial rivers – “always drive with the current” he kept telling us!

Tyre marks - yes, the Mountain Taxi came down that hill!

Tyre marks - yes, the Mountain Taxi came down that hill!

It was bizarre being here and seeing the destruction caused by the flood – it was like looking out at an ocean bed that had been completely drained.

These were just some of the highlights of our Mountain Taxi experience – we stopped at many other beautiful sights across Iceland during our two tours and will share these with you soon.

If you’re visiting Iceland and want to see more of the country, a tour with Mountain Taxi is definitely the best way to do it. While their tours aren’t cheap, they are worth every dollar if you want a unique look at the beautiful scenery of Iceland with a friendly and experienced guide.

A huge thanks to Súsanna from ICELANDisHOT for organizing our super jeep tours with Mountain Taxi and Oskar for being a fantastic guide. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

7 Comments

  1. Posted November 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been reading so much about Iceland lately, it’s quickly moving up on my bucket list. Super quickly. I’m definitely doing a tour with these guys if I make it there!

    PS Kieron, you’re working that snow angel like a PRO!
    Candice recently posted..A New Direction for CDTW: Back to the Purest Form of Travel Writing

    • Posted November 19, 2011 at 2:53 am | Permalink

      You definitely have to visit Iceland! It’s not even that far away from you! Highly recommend the Iceland in a Nutshell tour, that was one of the highlights of our journey to Iceland.

  2. Posted November 19, 2011 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    Wow, I’m very jealous of this experience! (Have I been saying that a lot lately to you guys?) Driving on a glacier is pretty rad. I’ve never been able to go off-road and it’s been disappointing in some places, like Death Valley, where you can drive a dirt road to a mountain summit if you have the right vehicle.
    Scott – QuirkyTravel recently posted..Quirky Attraction: La Jolla Seals

    • Posted November 19, 2011 at 3:42 am | Permalink

      A lot of people have been saying that lately! It was very cool – we were kinda expecting to be driving on ice so it surprised us how thick the snow cover was.

      One thing we missed out on doing on our travels was a 4×4 Hummer Tour when we were in the US (think it was at Palm Springs) so there seems to be plenty of off-road adventures to be had over there! Hopefully you’ll be able to take one of them one day soon and share it with us!

  3. Posted November 19, 2011 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Visited Iceland 5 years ago and loved it! I wonder if it’s cheaper now after their currency problems…

    • Posted November 19, 2011 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      It’s a lot cheaper now after the GFC – the value of the Krona has essentially halved! 1 Euro now buys 160 ISK compared to 80 ISK just 3-4 years ago.

  4. Posted December 15, 2012 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    That is a very nice way to see Iceland and like Amy and Kieron wrote the Krona is half the value it used to be so if there was ever a good time to visit Iceland…

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