Backpackers can go ‘Into The Glacier’ at Iceland’s new nature attraction
If you’ve travelled to snowy, mountainous areas, chances are you’ve encountered a glacier before – you’ll certainly have seen one, and you may have climbed, hiked or skied on one too. But you probably haven’t gone inside one, unless you’re a compulsive risk-taker or a research scientist. It probably hasn’t even crossed your mind to try. It has, however, crossed the mind of Icelandic tour operators Baldvin Einarsson and Hallgrimur Örn Arngrímsson, who have spent the last six years developing a nature attraction that is unusual even by Iceland’s extreme standards.
The result is Into The Glacier, a series of man-made tunnels and chambers that weave deep into Langjokull, a huge glacier some 120km northwest of Reykjavik. If that sounds a little too remote for the average backpacker, don’t fret – the ItG team does pick-ups from the city, so you can base yourself in a cheap Reykjavik hostel and let them take care of the transport.
Standard day tours whisk you off to ItG basecamp at the highland town of Husafell, then transfer you to a custom eight-wheel glacier truck for the journey onto Langjokull itself.
After exploring the surface environment, it’s down into the smooth, iridescent tunnels, which are lit with LED lights and peppered with information about the glacier, the research done there and the march of global warming. As you go deeper you’ll be able to see the stunning ‘blue ice’ beneath the surface – at this depth, pressure squeezes air bubbles out of the ice, turning it clear blue instead of the cloudy white colour you’re used to.
The photos from Into The Glacier look stunning, and we can’t wait to see it for ourselves. It’s another feather in the cap for Iceland’s jaw-dropping western region – which has been tipped for 2016, along with Into The Glacier itself, by Lonely Planet – and one more reason to visit Reykjavik, a firm backpacker favourite. Get your hostel booked now!