Iceland is a country with many outdoor adventures, which is something that The Adventure Kids aka Debra C. Argen and Edward F. Nesta thrive on. With help from Iceland Rovers and their Super Jeep Tours we set out to explore lava caves, hot springs, waterfalls, Þingvellir National Park, and the magnificently breathtaking Langjökull Glacier, the second largest glacier in Iceland.
On a pretty, sunny day in late September 2009, our knowledgeable, professional, and fun-loving guide Ludvik (Lullí) Sigurdsson from Iceland Rovers arrived at the Hotel Holt to pick us up at 8:30 in the morning in an enormous jeep that was versatile enough to handle the rugged terrain for off-road adventures. As we drove, the sky and the scenery was forever changing; mountains gently sloped down to the water, the landscape changed from green, to gold, and terracotta mixed with black volcanic rock, and iconic Icelandic horses and sheep dotted the landscape and had us rolling down the windows of the jeep to photograph everything in sight. There is something about Iceland that makes you want to wrap your arms around it and embrace it, as if you cannot get enough. This was our second trip to Iceland, yet the strong feeling remained, of wanting to discover it secrets and its charm that the Vikings had discovered, only in a more luxurious way.
Ludvik (Lullí) Sigurdsson and his Super Jeep
There are thousands of hot springs in Iceland and we began our discovery at a hot springs located on a farm with a large greenhouse that grows tomatoes and carrots. Stepping outside the jeep to have a closer look at the hot springs we immediately noticed the distinct smell of sulfur that rose in the steam and looked like a bubbling witch's cauldron.
Edward and Debra at the Hot Springs
We continued our drive through the second valley stopping at Barnafoss to see the incredible waterfalls framed by nature wearing its finest wardrobe of dramatic autumn colors of orange, gold, and red. By now the temperature was 35° F (2° C) and standing on the wooden bridge high above the waterfalls with the wind rushing at us was an exhilarating experience.
Edward on bridge at Barnafoss
Back in the jeep and continuing our drive, Lullí told us about Icelandic folklore including telling us stories about trolls that were the size of mountains and also of ghosts, stopping at Draugarétt (which translates as Ghost Fold) where he told us the famous story about Snorri and the 18 ghosts.
As we drove to our next destination, the lava caves, we had our first sighting of the glacier standing majestic in the distance waiting for our visit. Hearts pounding with excitement, we could not wait to see the Langjökull Glacier, but first we needed to explore the caves.
Edward with Glacier in Background
Exiting the jeep we donned our very fashionably chic bright red helmets outfitted with headlamps, which we needed to explore the caves. With our equipment secured, we walked over the uneven lava formations until we found the entrance to the cave and started our steep descent to discover its secrets. Although we have been in many caves in the United States, Ireland, and in Mexico, this was the first time that we had explored a lava cave. Walking in the lava cave was a unique experience, one that required us to watch our balance and our heads while walking over the varying terrain, as the lava tube narrowed and then expanded through the cave and its various tubes.
Debra and Lullí Entering Lava Cave
Feeling brave, we turned our headlamps off, closed our eyes to let them adjust to their new surroundings, opened them and experienced total darkness with the only sound the slight dripping of water like nature's music and that of our breathing.
Debra and Lullí in Lava Cave
We turned our headlamps back on, let our eyes readjust to the light, and slowly made our way back out of the cave working our way through each twist and turn until we reached the entrance and climbed the steep lava rocks to the top while remembering the remarkable experience it had been.
Edward Climbing out of Lava Cave
By now we had worked up an appetite after our morning's activities, and we decided that it was time to make a stop for lunch. However, since we had brought sandwiches with us to allow more time for adventures, Lullí thought that we should first have some off-road adventures driving through a stream and up a dirt hill, stopping along the banks of a waterfall where we enjoyed the view with our al fresco lunch.
Lunch Break while Off-Roading
Our adventure continued as we drove through a forest where the trees were sensational in their autumn colors, and as we started our climb higher and higher, and the landscape started changing dramatically with fewer horses and sheep grazing on the now sparser grasses until the moss-covered lava landscape looked like we had landed on the moon.
Edward at the Waterfall
By now the temperature had dropped to 34° F (1° C), and as we continued to rise higher and higher over the ruggedly spectacular landscape, Lullí slipped a CD into the player with dramatic music to add to the thrill of the experience as we had our first glimpse of the glacier. We also noticed that the outside temperature had now dropped to 32° F (0° C), and when we finally reached the glacier at 3,116 feet (950 meters) the temperature had further dropped to a very chilly 30° F (-1° C), however that was not enough to keep us inside the warm jeep; we had to venture outside and witness this breathtaking sight.
Langjökull Glacier is the second largest glacier in Iceland, and it is impossible to realize its sheer magnitude. Its beauty is not only exquisite in its size and pristine whiteness, but also formidable requiring us to watch out for the possibility that there might be a moulin or glacier mill, which is a narrow hole, tube, or crevasse through which water enters a glacier from the surface.
Lullí and Edward on Langjökull Glacier
Stepping onto the glacier with the sun beaming down on us, our adrenaline level rushed like a freight train. As we looked around all we could see was the white of the glacier for as far as the eye could see. It was nature at its finest, heart pounding and jaw dropping in its exquisiteness. It was a memory that will stay with us forever, the kind of memory that you save like a treasure to pull out in the future when you a need a special memory to get you through an average day.
Debra and Edward on Langjökull Glacier
As we drove over the glacier, we noticed what looked like black dirt, which Lullí gathered in his hand to show us the volcanic ash. We slowly made our way back down the mountain and when we reached 2,526 feet (770 meters), the landscape had changed to its now familiar moonscape with only a light covering of snow on the majestic mountains.
We stopped in Cold Valley, which lived up to its name with a temperature of only 28° F (-2 ° C), where there was a stone memorial pile for settlers who had perished during their travels. We added a few stones to honor their memory and noted the vegetation, so perfectly encapsulated in ice that it looked as if the flowers were individually dipped in water and then frozen.
Cold Valley Memorial
After stopping for cups of much needed coffee, we continued our drive back to Reykjavik returning to the hotel at 5:30 in the evening with our heads filled with memories to last a lifetime, had made a new friend in Lullí, and shot over 600 photos. This was definitely a day to remember for The Adventure Kids. Until our adventure, we wish you safe and happy adventures of your own.
Super Jeep Off-Roading with Lullí
Iceland Rovers offers a wide variety of tours; to learn more about their exciting tours, please visit www.IcelandRovers.is.
110 Reykjavik, Iceland
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