A monster minibus, a snowmobile and an ice cave

Today’s trip was John’s choice. That’s why I spent part of the day scared! That said, it was an awesome trip… the monster minibus was fun, the ice cave was stunning and, looking back on it, the snowmobile was a fantastic experience. I was pleased to get back alive though 😉

After another awful night’s sleep… this cold is really getting me down… we got up early, washed, dressed, had breakfast, made a packed lunch and set off. We’d put all the kit we needed in the car last night, preparing for another cold day. The trip started at Gullfoss, the waterfall we visited yesterday, about an hour away.

At the Gullfoss visitor centre, we transferred to the monster minibus, with huge 46 inch wheels and fully adapted for driving on rough tracks, ice and snow. From there, we set off along the road to Langjökull glacier, where the snowmobile base was, about 45 minutes away. The road turned into a track, rutted with ice in places, and then to snow.

When we reached the base we changed into thick overalls, balaclavas, thick gloves and goggles. It was freezing and we were glad of these. When everyone was ready, we were taught to use the snowmobiles before we set off across the snow one by one, following each other. John and I shared a snowmobile. Obviously, he was driving, having been warned not to scare me!

It wasn’t the smooth journey I expected! When we stopped to regroup, John said it was hard work, bouncing over the rutted, icy snow, not being able to see the surface because of the flat light, and trying to control the thumb accelerator when the ground was rough. He was enjoying it though and complained our snowmobile didn’t seem to go as fast as some people’s…. not something I was unhappy about!

Finally, we arrived at the ice cave. We rode past the entrance and didn’t even see it was there it was so tiny!

John and I were first to enter the cave after the guide. He said they’d had to cancel yesterday’s trip because there had been a lot of snow, which had filled the cave entrance. They’d had to dig it out again and the entrance was steep and slippery until I reached some wooden steps, which took me the rest of the way. The cave was beautiful!

I’d had to leave my tripod behind and it took me a while to sort out the settings on my camera to get sharp photos in the relatively poor light. On one side of the cave, there were stunning black and white stripes in the ice. On the other side, some of the ice was blue and some was striped, as in the image of John at the top of this blog. We were glad we kept our helmets on because we kept banging our heads on the low cave roof.

After a while, I was getting hot and the cave was crowded so we made our way back to the surface. When all of our group had seen enough we got back on our snowmobiles and set off back to the base.

This time the ride was a lot faster. The guide at the front must have thought everyone would like that! I felt as though I was being thrown around like a rag doll on the back of the snowmobile, and I was clinging onto the handles for dear life! My arms will probably hurt tomorrow! I contemplated holding on to John because I thought this might help me feel what was happening and respond to the speed and bumps better, but the peaked full face helmet would have made this difficult. I discovered I have snowmobiling Tourette’s as well as kayaking Tourette’s! John said he knew when I was scared because I gripped him with my knees. He didn’t slow down though! When we were back, he confessed he’d taken the snowmobile out of Eco mode and it went much faster! He had a big grin on his face and my anxiety was worth it to see that 🙂

After removing our gear and having a coffee and some biscuits, we got back in the monster minibus to return to Gullfoss. On the way we stopped to reinflate the tyres, which our guide had let down on the way out to make the ride over the rutted track more comfortable. While he did this, we looked at the view. Iceland is beautiful, even if it does look quite harsh and barren at the moment.

Back at the Airbnb, we’re having fajitas for tea, then watching a film this evening… assuming the Northern lights don’t come out to play. It doesn’t look as though they will. Maybe tomorrow!

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