Wanted: Thrill seekers to share a bumpy ride

22. June, 2020

A short Icelandic summer is here, and I cannot think of a better way of spending these long days of daylight than outside. In Reykjavik the main streets are filled with locals and visitors, the tables outside bars and cafes are full, the atmosphere is communal, friendly, kind. And if temperamental Icelandic breeze does not cool you down on a hot day in the sun, a delicious locally brewed beer surely will. However, given the changing nature of the climate in this lovely coastal town of ours, the motto should be “Seize the day!” The time is right to get out into nature, especially since a thrilling, bumpy driving experience is just 20 minutes away from downtown.

I am talking about a guided tour in two-seat buggy cars in the rugged foothills of the Esja mountain. Called Esjan by locals, it is difficult to overstate just how important it is to Reykjavik residents. In fact, they use Esjan as a landmark that points them to the north. And almost everyone has climbed it. A local once told me, “It is important for me to see Esjan is there. There is always a nice view on the top; it allows you to see Reykjavik from a different perspective. You get to see the whole city in its miniature version in all directions.”

Locals look at the mountain to judge when winter is coming. The higher you go into the atmosphere, the colder it gets. When autumn is here and you are waiting for first frost to arrive, you can see layers of white forming on a mountain. When it’s low enough, you can expect it in the city.

But let’s save the climb for another day. Today it’s all about driving
along roads and tracks further into the mountainous landscapes east and north of the greater Reykjavik area. Just you and your companion in a buggy, strapped into it with a 4-point safety harness (the roads are super bumpy). Automatic transmission allows ease of use of the vehicle. You stop on the way, and as long as you have a valid driver’s license, the craggy lava landscape is your oyster. The focus is on getting dirty, driving fast, having fun in the dust, mud, water or even snow. Any questions about local geology and history and whether your handsome driving guide and instructor is currently single should be saved for when you are back in Reykjavik downing that refreshing cold beer in midnight sun.