The 3rd Expedition to Iceland in November 2016 was as memorable, exciting, adventurous, snowy and thrilling as the first two! A group of Adventure Seekers from all over India got together with us and landed in Reyjkavik. On this unique expedition to Iceland, the participants sat behind the wheel of modified 4WD vehicles which are specially designed for use in rough environments, in the mountains, on glaciers and in the desert. These vehicles are normally used by rescue teams, military units and police forces.
The ‘Icelandic Experience’ began from the moment we boarded our flight to reach Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. We were excited to blast through the snow, and waited in eager anticipation to get our hands on the specialized Super Trucks. After checking in to Hotel Reykjavik Centrum, the team was brought together for a pre expedition briefing and also given tips on how to drive in different conditions of snow, airing down the tires, driving through rivers and in other off-road conditions. We gave a quick rundown of Iceland’s highlights to our participants and prepared them for the ultimate adventure over the next few days. We started off with an exotic dinner at the Grillmarket Restaurant, one of the most popular restaurants in Iceland.
After getting to know each other and meting the crew the night before, today morning all the participants were transferred to the Arctic Trucks headquarters. All the super trucks were lined outside and it was a matter of hours before we would begin our journey through the gorgeous landscapes of this beautiful country. After a detailed briefing on how to drive the trucks and tackle the various terrains that we may encounter along the way, we began our journey. We drove to the foot of the Langjökull Glacier, the second largest glacier of Europe from where we drove up the glacier to explore a man made Ice Cave driving over a blanket of snow for a couple of hours. Witnessing the hidden and the beautiful blue ice in the heart of the glacier was an awesome experience and definitely a first for everyone in the group!
Iceland is a beautiful country with so much to offer… from amazing landscapes, black sand beaches, geothermal pools to glacier lagoons and more. For us the beauty of this trip was driving on our own each day to discover all these natural wonders. Every day was a different experience and today was no exception! We visited the historic Thingvellir National Park, home of Iceland’s ancient Viking parliament and listed as a UNESCO’s World Heritage site. From there we head east towards Haukadalsheiði following a mountain road with great views of lava fields and Europe’s second biggest glacier – Langjökull.
In Haukadalur, home of the great Geysir hot spring, we witnessed the reliable Strokkur geyser that erupts every few minutes. This incredible hot spring spouts boiling water to a height of 35 meters. Next we headed up to the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall cascading down in the Hvítá River originating in the Langjökull glacier. Finally, we drove all the way up to the Langjökull Glaicer for the snowmobiling Adventure of the day where we got a chance to explore the glacier riding on our own snowmobiles, it was one of the most thrilling experiences of the entire journey!
Today was definitely the best driving day of the entire expedition! We got to test the skills of the man and the machine as we drove the entire day over a snowy terrains crossing rivers, driving on slippery ice, tackling side walls of snow, deflating and inflating tires based on the thickness of the snowy terrain ahead of us and finally at the end of the day, we reached the mountain hut that was located far away from any civilization. After relaxing and enjoying a bath in a natural hot spring outsid the mountain hut, we went back to the hut and cooked a BBQ leg of lamb ourselves! The mountain hut experience is surely one of the best experiences in Iceland!
During the fifth day, we packed our gears and moved back to civilization. A slow and steady drive with multiple photo-stops, we reached our luxury Hotel Ranga, which overlooks the Ytri-Rangá, a river popular for salmon fishing. FYI, we didn’t go fishing, but we definitely enjoyed a gourmet 3 course meal which had salmon as entrée. The manager politely interrupted out dinner to announce that we had to go out immediately as there was a spectacular display of the Northern Lights in the sky. We all rushed out and saw this amazing natural phenomenon where we saw these gorgeous green lights dancing in the sky and changing shapes every few minutes. It was a surreal experience and we were all very fortunate to have witnessed this rare sighting. For most participants, witnessing the Northern Lights was a life long dream, and fortunately, that dream was realised today.
Day 6 was a beautiful day full of waterfalls and black sand beaches. Our first stop was the 65 meter high Seljalandsfoss waterfall. After driving between two glaciers, we arrived at Thorsmork valley, which is named after Thor, the Viking God of Thunder. We drove into this beautiful valley, surrounded on three sides by steep mountains, crossing raging rivers and gentle streams, passing caves and giant boulders before stopping at the Gigjokull glacier. We continued to the black lava sand beaches where we spent some time to admire the beauty and power of the North Atlantic Ocean. Finally, we began our journey back to Reyjkavik and after a thoroughly exhilarating experience, the vehicles were handed back at the Arctic truck headquarters.
The final day of our Icelandic Expedition! Today was all about luxury as we boarded a bus that took us to Blue Lagoon, one of the most popular tourist spots in Iceland. We spent two hours in the warm and soothing waters of the Lagoon when at the same time, the outside temperature was -5 degrees! It was just what everyone needed after an adrenalin filled drive over the last 1 week! The expedition was concluded with an Indian Meal in the evening, just what everyone had been looking forward to!