When we last left off, my mom, sister and I had just arrived in the town of Arnastapi in Western Iceland. All day we had been catching glimpses of the Snæfellsjökull ice cap, a looming preview of our afternoon adventure.
Snæfellsjökull is famous for being the setting for Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. The famous book tells the tale of a geologist and his nephew’s journey into the crater — a journey that would be impossible today now that the crater is filled with ice. And that’s not the glacier’s only claim to fame. Among modern mystic groups, Snæfellsjökull is considered a great “power center” of the world and is said to give off great energy.
It is possible to get to the summit by hiking — but why hike when you can ride? Being the adrenaline lover that I am, I was thrilled to try snowmobiling for the first time in such a dramatic setting. We first considered taking the popular one-hour snowmobiling trip from Gulfoss, along the Golden Circle route. However, at 25,000 kroner ($138US) per person, it was a pricey endeavor. When we managed to find a trip for 22,000 kroner per person ($121US) from Arnastapi, we were pretty pleased (that’s a fifty dollar savings among the three of us!).
The trip began with a drive up one of Iceland’s nerve wracking F-roads (a title that strikes fear into the heart of rental car drivers around the country). So far on this trip I had cantered across a lava field on a horse, scuba-ed through icy glacial waters, and I was about to drive a snowmobile. Yet none of those made me close my eyes and shake with fear the way driving up that rocky F-road! My stomach nearly dropped out of the seat a few times as I pictured our little silver sedan slipping all the way down the mountain.
Finally we made it to the start of the snowline, where we found our guide waiting with three snowmobiles. Even in the height of summer, we were getting a private tour! Of course, due to the summer weather the snowline was pretty far up the mountain. Our guide informed us in accented English that in the winter the tours often start all the way back in Arnastapi.
To be more economical, we rented two snowmobiles among the three of us. I took the first turn on the back so that I could do my favorite thing — take photos and video! To see video footage of this trip, check out my One Week in Iceland movie.
From where we started the landscape was volcanic rock punctuated by long fingers of snow. As we zipped further up the glacier, white took over as the predominant color of the landscape until eventually we could see the ocean on either side of us.
Halfway up we stopped so that I could take a turn driving. Um, yeah. This is what happened:
See the little dot back there? That was me. As soon as I got onto that bike I started having PTSD-style flashbacks to my motorcycle crash(es) and I was pretty paralyzed by fear. I think once you feel the weight of a several-hundred-pound piece of machinery come out from under you as you completely lose control over it, it’s a hard sensation to forget.
In the past I might have beat myself up for not LOVING SNOWMOBILING, but at this point I’m feeling pretty confident in my adventure activity levels. I’m pretty cool with enjoying this sport from the passenger seat.
Olivia, on the other hand, was a natural.
And then suddenly we were 4,744 feet above sea level, staring down at the peninsula we had spent two days driving across. If we squinted we could identify each of the tiny towns we has passed through, like a real life topographical map. My mother might object to me saying this — it being her money and all — but I think the views were worth every penny.
We did it! We summited an Icelandic glacier via snowmobile. As I said, the snowline was pretty high due to the summer weather and global warming (let’s not even get into that one) so we were running ahead of time on the tour. Lucky for us, that’s meant more time for a glacier photo shoot!
Our guide was very patient with us but eventually we grew slightly self-conscious of asking him to take our photo from various angles around the mountain — we do have some shame, you know. And so we started the process of going down, which intimidated even new-found daredevil Olivia.
We were so lucky to end our trip to Iceland on such a literal and metaphorical (and I promise not physical) high. While I wasn’t much of a driver, I loved the experience and I’d do it again — as a passenger, of course.
Can you believe this is the conclusion of my Iceland coverage? I can’t believe how many posts resulted from a one week trip! But while my mom and sister headed home the next morning, I was on a plane heading further east, to the United Kingdom. Stay tuned!
. . . . . . . . . . . .
Update: Travel Blog Success was merged with Superstar Blogging by Nomadic Matt. It’s an equally impressive course that I plan to take and review eventually — click here to take it yourself!
Exiting news! This week there is a huge 35% off sale on Travel Blog Success, the online course that helped me make Alex in Wanderland what it is today! This program changed the way I looked at travel blogging and helped me move it from a hobby to a business. The member’s group gives me daily inspiration, feedback, and assistance. I couldn’t ask for a better community! Click here and enter coupon code “tbs35” to get your lifetime membership at this special rate.
Of course I’ll stay tuned! I love this show. You should win an Oscar. Regards, Gram E
Well there is a yearly competition called The Bloggies, maybe some year I’ll take home a prize 🙂
wow, that looks like so much fun. now i wanna do it!
Funny thing is I never really had the desire until Iceland! But I’m so glad I did — checked it off the life list 🙂
The photo of the three of us just screams “Christmas card!” Now that everyone has seen it, I’ll save my stamps.
Liv, great posture in that last photo.
And yes, the experience and the views were worth every one of the $363 dollars 🙂
Glad the payer agrees 🙂
I have never snowmobiled but I would definitely do it to see gorgeous views like this.
Definitely a better alternative to hiking in the snow in order to see those views!
I’d rather be a passenger too, taking the photos along the way. Yet what an exciting thing to do. I haven’t been on a snowmobile in decades.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who prefers the back seat! 🙂
Good God you got amazing weather. I’m so jealous.
We went on an F road with a tour guide – I’m sure it strikes fear in the rental car companies as well!
We really, really did… I’m very grateful for it after some previous bad weather trips! Its one of the reasons I prefer the longer trips over the shorter ones, bad weather for a few days evens out better!
Ah, I love snowmobiling, or ‘skidooing’ as we call it here… The Canadian prairies are another great place to practice!
I’ve spent barely any time in Canada in my life… this information might change my mind 🙂
I’ve rode a snowmobile twice in my life – both times I crashed and it landed on me. I share your fear my friend!!
Those views over the country are INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!!
Ps. Thanks for the discount Alex – just signed myself up for TBS (I am so cheap….haha)
Yay! You are going to LOVE TBS! It’s such a great community… see you in the secret group 🙂
What a fabulous way to end such an incredible trip! Snowmobiling looks so fun and what spectacular views from the mountain.
I’m also shocked at what amazing weather you had as well. Can I ask what week of the summer you were in Iceland?
You have definitely inspired me to put Iceland in my next couple of years of adventure travel.
We were there for the last week of June. I think we had maybe one morning of rain, but otherwise it was beautiful blue skies and temps up to the 70s! We were in heaven. So glad to hear you are considering Iceland!
This is soooo sick!
I have to agree 🙂
Being from Michigan I have definitely snow-mobiled… but definitely not with that scenery! So jealous!
Yeah I don’t know if it would have appealed to me without that scenery 🙂
Hmmm, maybe I DO want to go back to Iceland to see the snow.
I enjoyed being there in the summer… it was the only time we saw snow!
I’m planning a trip to Iceland in early December and was looking forward to it prior to finding your entries. Needless to say now I’m really looking forward to it!
Thanks for your posts & great pictures by the way.
Hi Dave, so glad you found Alex in Wanderland and it’s getting you excited for your trip! You’ll love Iceland!
I can’t believe you’re just 22!! You’ve seen the world and I’m so envious. Stumbled upon your blog last weekend and I’ve been reading your adventures since then. 🙂 It broke my heart when I reached the post about you becoming a solo traveler. :(( Anyway, let me know if you’re coming to SEA again soon. Hope to bump into you someday! I’m from the Philippines. If you’re visiting here, I’ll let you stay in my flat in Manila and in our home in Zambales (coastal province). 🙂 Can’t wait to read more of your travels!
Hi Anne! Yes I’ve been so lucky to find my passion for travel so early in life. I’m hoping to be back in Southeast Asia from December – May, and am definitely planning on visiting the Philippines! I’d love to have a tour guide 🙂
Yay! Great! Looking forward to that!
Are you visiting Iceland? It’s an amazing destination!
This looks so fun! We just went in November in a horrific snow storm and it was downright scary!!!
Oh man, I don’t think I’d like that! I was a little nervous even in beautiful winter conditions!