Not long after I started this blog I got an e-mail from a Brazilian called Bruno that was coming to Iceland for the summer and needed help finding a job. Before you get any ideas about sending me a similar request, this was back when I was only getting a couple of e-mails a week and I still had time to help people out with their often very specific requests. Now I just send everyone straight to a guest post here on the blog that was written by an American expat about everything you need to know about moving to Reykjavík.
By the way, the co-worker who’s home Devon and John got married in (if you visited the link) was actually no other than my Ásta that many of you have met on our tours. Funny how life works out sometimes.
Anyway, so Bruno was looking for a job and I was working somewhere that often hired foreigners on short term basis so I set up a meeting with one of my bosses and he got the job. He actually ended up staying way longer than the two months he originally set out for and we ended up becoming friends.
Bruno moved to Germany last year (or maybe it was the year before that) but in February he sent me an e-mail again and said he was coming back to Iceland for a short visit to attend Sónar music festival. He asked if we could meet up and maybe make a day out of it by driving the south coast. He had never seen that elusive plane wreck everybody is always talking about and was eager to go find it.
If there’s one thing you need to know about me then it’s probably the fact that I never half-ass anything. Like when my friend Elli mentioned briefly last month that it could be fun to get out of town for a bit, probably thinking we could drive the Golden Circle or something, and before he could even formulate his thoughts on this I had already booked us on the next plane to Akureyri and then off we went.
So naturally when Bruno and I decided we were going to do something, the day before actually, I started thinking about how we could make this into something more than just driving the south coast. Bruno, I wrote to him in an e-mail, you’re OK with doing a snowmobile tour on a glacier, right? That’s good because I’ve already book you on one and we’re leaving at 7:30 tomorrow morning.
So we left Reykjavík the next morning and drove towards the south coast in total darkness. The roads were icy and full of drivers that were obviously not used to these conditions so the journey towards Mýrdalsjökull glacier took us extra long. Because we were driving east the sunrise was just ahead of us the whole time which was both spectacularly beautiful and also very uncomfortable because I couldn’t see a thing. But we made it in time for our tour and were greeted by the friendly staff at Arcanium upon our arrival.
Last year we did a ATV tour with Arcanum which we liked so much that we decided to sell it through the blog. So I was looking forward to trying out their snowmobile tour also so they happily invited us to join one.
When we arrived the staff offered us some coffee, which I thought was a nice touch even though I don’t drink coffee, while we waited for the rest of our group to arrive. Then it was time to gear up but like on most activity tours that take place outside in Iceland Arcanum offer their guests warm overalls, gloves and everything you need to keep warm on the glacier. Because I’m always dressed for Antarctica I just borrowed a balaclava. Once we got to the glacier though and the wind started blowing I really regretted not borrowing gloves too because the wind went straight through my mittens. I had a second pair in my backpack but it didn’t do much good there. I obviously borrowed a helmet too.
Pro tip: The handle bars on the snowmobiles have warmers in them. Figure out how they work before you head out. Once I managed to turn mine on I forgot all about having cold hands.
When everyone had got dressed we were transported to the glacier in this huge truck which was kind of fun. We were so lucky with the weather an the views on the way up were breathtaking. Once we got up to the glacier we found a bunch of snowmobiles waiting for us and then it was time to get them ready. While one guide worked on that the other gave us a safety briefing and some tips on how to successfully steer the snowmobile. In case you were wondering you use your whole body. After that we were good to go and so we went.
I think it’s important that you know that you don’t book ATV and snowmobile tours to get a guided tour that will tell you all about what you’re seeing around you. You do it because it’s fun to whoosh around on a glacier and the views are amazing. When we stopped at the halfway point the guide did tell us a bit about what we were seeing but the wind was actually so strong and I had my helmet on so I couldn’t hear half of it. What I did hear though I found really interesting.
I really enjoyed this tour. Bruno loved it. I have become a little spoiled because this blog has allowed me to do so many amazing things that I no longer get that wow feeling that I imagine first time visitors experience on tours like this one. I never get sick of seeing our beautiful landscape though and definitely get a thrill out of the tours. In fact I remember thinking when we stopped for photos on the glacier that day: Man, I live a blessed life. But because I am more used to this than most people I travel with I love having someone with me that is experiencing things for the first time so I can see their reaction. And I make a point of studying those who do the tours with me to see their reactions too. They probably think I’m some sort of perverted weirdo that gets a kick out of seeing people in orange overalls.
In any case I saw nothing but big bright smiles on the way back down from the glacier.
Like I mentioned before we were super lucky with the weather, it was actually quite warm that day and sunny, but even so it got really cold on the glacier. I had my buff with me (which is no joke a life saver and I use it all the time in the winter) and used that to cover my nose and my mouth under the helmet. Even with the balaclava it was cold so I was happy I had it. We were also lucky because there were only about 11 of us on the tour but I heard from someone that book this tour through me that they had a lot more people on the tour they booked. They still loved it but they had some people on their tour that went very slow and they would have loved to go faster. If you don’t like crowds and you like to go a bit faster you might want to look into making the tour private which I think is a great option for groups and families traveling together in particular. Just something to think about.
After the tour Bruno and I visited the DC3 plane wreck on Sólheimasandur and we did a little hike to Seljavallalaug. We were out having fun the whole day and didn’t even stop at Skógafoss or Seljalandsfoss. Which shows you that it’s possible to spend a lot of time on the south coast and not see everything it has to offer.
The snowmobile tour in Mýrdalsjökull is available year round and is a great addition to your self-drive tour around the south coast. If you want you can also book it with transfer from Reykjavík and then you also stop at Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls on the way.