Looking to get away? Try a glacier hike in Iceland. Really.
Article by Dan Patrick
Iceland-it’s not actually covered in Ice, that’s Greenland. Iceland, in fact, is mostly green.
Thoughts of Iceland, Ice-land to most Americans, conjures up images of frozen land, frozen people and glaciers. To be sure, it can be cold in Iceland and there are glaciers-some of the most incredible and accessible glaciers in the world, in fact-but glaciers cover only about 11% of the country.
Iceland is mostly unspoiled and natural, and you can get to the most incredible places quite easily, unlike many of the national parks and beautiful places in the U.S. Here, too often, ‘nature’ is available for your viewing pleasure from sunup to sundown, after you find a parking space, gain the blessing of a gate attendant, and wander down a trail with fences on two sides like pedestrian slot cars. A highly orchestrated nature experience isn’t a nature experience.
Things are different in Iceland. You can really get out there if you like. Whether you’re the find-it-yourself type and like to spend your vacation out of a rental car (or Holiday out of a car for hire if you’re from the UK), or if you prefer to connect with a local tour company to take you directly to the best spots – either way, you’ll see incredible landscapes. Keep in mind, ‘best spots’ is another concept where you’ll need to shift your thinking away from the familiar roadside turnout photo opp that first involves parking logistics and some form of waiting, to places where roads often have no barrier and you realize you don’t need a map to find a beautiful spot.
I’m a find-it-yourself type by nature, but over the years I’ve grown to enjoy the personal service of private or small group guided tours. I don’t need to worry about whether I’ve picked the best spot based on an outsiders quick education via brochures, web sites and airport conversations, nor do I want to share my experience with a busload of people in a large group tour.
I also like to experience a new place up-close and personally. Sure, you can visit a new place, and while you’re there, read about the history, the people, and the land, but you can do that from home in front of a computer! When I go someplace new, I want to do things that are not possible to do anywhere else, to go outside and touch things, hike the land, smell the air,…drink from a glacier!
Hiking, to me is nearly a religious experience. It’s the only thing I can do where I am equally comfortable in conversation, sharing the experience live and out loud with my wife or a friend, or silent, soaking it in at the highest bandwidth possible.
Check out a hiking experience with the local pros – they know the best places to take you and it’s not in a queue of 65 day-trippers going to the same spot-there are lots of great places to go and the guides adapt around your needs and desires.
Iceland hiking is like a distilled version of hiking elsewhere. The clean air, clean land, living landscape of tundra, volcanoes, glaciers, fjords and hot springs afford an unparalleled experience of nature. With direct flights from major US Metro airports and easy access to lodging and touring companies, an Iceland getaway is closer than you think.
About the Author
Dan is an outdoors and nature lover, recent convert to glacier hiking and tours in Iceland, and writer.