It is easy to pinpoint the time when Iceland was placed firmly on the world map. Spring 2010. It was then when the glacier volcano of Eyjafjallajökull erupted, ejecting plenty of ash to halt over 100,000 flights across Europe. The area, located at the borders of the south Icelandic highlands received plenty of attention back then but it is just as exciting to visit it today on an action-packed jeep tour to Gígjökull, an outlet glacier that lies to the north of the lava-spouting offender whose name is derived from an Icelandic phrase meaning ‘the island’s mountain glacier’.
The fun begins when your driver heads straight through melt water rivers still flowing after the heat from the eruption melted ice from the Gigjökull ice cap and sent flood waters of (almost) Biblical proportions to the Atlantic ocean. The waters caused a lot of destruction to the lands below but today (a small mercy of sorts!) the adventurers can have their fun in the melt water rivers. We did say this was an action-packed tour, didn’t we?
Next, your driver will navigate you towards a stunning long gorge. Depending on the day, it could either be Stakkholtsgjá or Nauthúsagil. Boots on, a hike will take you through some pretty spectacular landscape to a waterfall nestled deep within the gorge. If this is not going to be one of the best highlights of the tour, we will eat a piece of fermented shark. Without the akvavit to dim the aftertaste.
From the gorge we continue our tour to one of the country’s loveliest waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss. The sure-footed can walk behind the thundering cascade. You must be hungry by now so the next stop is for a picnic lunch (it’s on us!) in the beautiful surroundings of a hidden canyon, with its unique vegetation, soft green moss and a waterfall to raise the appetite and inspire good conversation.
After lunch we continue our journey to where only specially adapted vehicles (like our super jeep) can access. We reach the exact spots that were covered in ash at the beginning of the eruption and then cross even more glacial rivers to get the best view of the eruption site. This is where you can let your inner National Geographic photographer loose and take as many photos as your memory card can handle. But please save some space on your device as there is more gorgeousness on the way back to Reykjavik. We are talking the black Atlantic ocean beaches, we are talking the magnificent Skógafoss waterfall (where we stop), we are talking pretty little towns on the way.
We reach Reykjavik in time for dinner.
Oh, one last thing. Booking your tour takes less time than learning to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull. That’s AY-yah-fyad-layer-kuh-tel. It’s a tongue twister, isn’t it?!