Iceland’s Into the Glacier Experience

After living in Iceland for a while, I thought it was time to finally experience a glacier first hand. And what better way to explore a glacier than with Into the Glacier, a company specializing in tours inside the longest ice tunnel in the world at 1220 meters. So off I went mid-June on a Happy Camper road trip to the second largest glacier in Iceland, Langjökull where the western side of the country sources their fresh water (the water you’re drinking in Reykjavík right now took a couple of centuries to reach your tap!).

No matter what time of the year you plan to visit the glacier, remember the temperature always stays chilly at 0°C. Into the Glacier recommends water repellent boots, hat, and layers, similar to our essential packing guide. It also took some time to reach the tunnel, so snacks and a water bottle is recommended during the transfers. Once at Klaki Base Camp (“Klaki” translates to ice cube), you’ll be able to see a map pinpointing (in blue) the different locations of the tour including Húsafell shuttle pick up, Klaki Base Camp, and of course the entrance of Into the Glacier.

Here’s my review of my experience going into the glacier:

Cool fact alert: The tunnel took four years of surveying and 14 months to dig out! And although the glacier moves one centimeter each year, the tunnel is apparently the safest place to be hiding in the case of an earthquake.

As Happy Campers aren’t 4WD, we weren’t able to drive directly to Klaki Base Camp, or in English, “Ice Cube Base Camp”. Our option was to hire the tour shuttle which took approximately 30 minutes from Húsafell, where we camped the night prior.

After arriving at Klaki, we took this NATO vehicle that originally looked for fighter planes in Greenland and now the official Into the Glacier bus service. At 15km/hr, it took another 30 minutes to get to the tunnel, so Ingo, our tour guide, kept us entertained with some interesting stories and facts based on the surroundings of Langjökull.

And so the actual tour began. The tunnel didn’t look like much, but holds importance for the staff of Into the Glacier. Since the tunnel was created, Ingo and his teammates haven’t had to locate the entrance to the inside and dig it out every. single. day. Now it’s dug out only 2 times per month.

As we descended into the dark tunnel, we were welcomed by the warmth of fairy lights that guided us into the first room. So lovely!

Before officially beginning the tour, Ingo introduced us to an important tool for glacier walks: crampons. They’re essentially a slip-on sole equipped with many metal picks to keep the friction (aka. you’re less likely to slip and fall!).

One of the first things that caught our attention was the layering within the tunnel. According to Ingo, the interesting feature in the tunnel is comprised of tightly compressed snow and volcanic ash called “fur”. The thicker layer you see is only a decade old while the oldest layer is 3000 years young!

Did you know the entire glacier will disappear in only 150 years?! It was interesting to see this timeline of the past, present, and future of Langjökull.

Just the week before, there was an epic event held right here inside the glacier for a big music festival. One of Ingo’s favourite DJ’s happened to be playing and he told me how surreal it was to experience the music inside the coolest workplace around.

Here we are in the old chapel where the alter is still in its place. It’s now “old” because the acoustics weren’t up to par for a chapel, so they ended up building a new one. However, this is one of the many rooms where holes are created for the research of glacier movement.

Our next stop was the new chapel where the acoustics are so good that some artists have recorded music in the room! Fun fact: 3 weddings and 24 proposals have taken place in the chapel. So romantic it gives me the chills. Brr!

We found some water pockets- frozen and not frozen- within the chapel as well. They’re quite obvious as they are a deep blue colour surrounded by fur and the perfect natural wall decoration.

We continued the journey deep into the glacier…

And found ourselves in a cove with a tiny water hole.

Towards the end of our tour, we came across the wooden troll bridge where we could stand and take a look within a great crevice..

Which happened to have an eerie ice sculpture- the profile of a troll! Ingo says it only appeared 6 weeks before we went on our tour, but to this day, I’m still hard pressed to believe if he was just saying it to impress us, or if it’s a permanent sculpture for all tours to enjoy! In any case, this was pretty darn cool.

To sum it up, I along with my tour mates had a fun adventure exploring Into the Glacier with Ingo, a guide who clearly knows the ins and outs of the tunnel and Langjökull. My first time exploring a glacier is now crossed off my bucket list and I really think it should be considered as part of yours- as long as you make it to Iceland within the next 150 years! If I could say one more thing, it would be to make sure you’re wearing the warmest socks ever! Although I had wool socks under my hiking boots, the 0°C tempurature made my little tootsies a little frozen by the end of the tour.

Until next time, happy travels!

To check out Lea’s adventures, follow her on Instagram @coolitchcowski

To read more about Lea’s Happy Camper Adventures in Iceland check out these articles:
A Rejuvenating Experience at Myvatn Nature Baths
Happy Camper’s Official Packing List for a Great Road Trip
Pólar Hestar Horseback Riding in North Iceland