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Glacier Hiking Day Trips From Reykjavík & Skaftafell in Iceland

Bestselling Glacier Hiking Tours from Reykjavík:

 
Blue Ice Glacier Hiking & Ice Climbing
Take a journey through a frozen maze of towering ice formations, jagged ridges, and deep blue crevasses!
Easy
1d
Snæfellsjökull Glacier Glacier Hiking Adventure
Summit Iceland’s most iconic glacier, where Jules Verne once described the entrance to the “Centre of the Earth”!
Demanding
1d
South Shore Safari with Glacier Hiking Super Jeep & Glacier Hiking
A super jeep and glacier hiking adventure combo that gets you up-close-and-personal with the best of south Iceland!
Easy
1d
Glaciers, Volcanoes & Waterfalls Glacier Walking & Sightseeing
South Coast sightseeing tour including an easy glacier walk on Sólheimajökull glacier. Visit Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss and more.
Easy
1d
 
 
 

Bestselling Glacier Hiking Tours from Skaftafell:

Glacier Explorer Glacier Hiking Adventure
With crampons on foot and ice axe in hand, get intimate with the ancient ice formations of Europe’s largest glacier!
Challenging
1d
Glacier Wonders Easy Glacier Hiking
A short and sweet taste of the magnificent Vatnajökull National Park with an easy glacier walk, suitable for everyone!
Easy
1d
Glacier Xtreme Glacier Hiking & Ice Climbing
In the heart of Europe’s greatest glacial playground, take your glacier adventure to the next level!
Challenging
1d
Glacier Grand Slam Glacier Hiking & Boating
Get intimate with the highlights of Vatnajökull National Park on a glacier hike and boat ride through towering icebergs!
Challenging
1d

Glacier Hiking Day Trips in South Iceland

With 30 years of adventure travel and activity operating under our belt we finally feel like we have perfected our glacier hiking trips in Iceland. Over the years we explored countless glacier plateaus, summited endless mountains and hiked many breathtaking outlet glaciers in our search for the ultimate glacier tour Iceland has to offer. We operate glacier trips from Reykjavik and from Skaftafell further along the South Coast.  Click here to see our full list of glacier trips from Reykjavik.


Glacier Hiking Trips from Reykjavík:

From Reykjavik we can take you on the Sólheimajökull for a glacier hike and introduction to ice climbing, this is our ultimate best seller! Available every day, all year round, there is just no excuse from not visiting an Icelandic glacier.  Click here for more information on the Blue Ice Glacier Tour.


We also operate a very popular South Coast sightseeing tour with stops at Skógafoss & Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, following trails to Reynisfjara with its black sand beach and for a grand finale, a short and accessable glacier walking tour on Sólheimajökull.  Click here for more information on the Glaciers, Volcanoes and Waterfalls Tour.

If you want to get the most out of your day in Iceland you can combine the Blue Ice tour with a 4x4 super jeep adventure and sightseeing the South shores most treasured natural sights! You can either go on the driver guided tour South Shore Safari, or drive the super jeep yourself on the tour U-Drive South Shore!

Glacier Hiking Trips from Skaftafell:

From Skaftafell under the Vatnajökull glacier (Europe´s biggest glacier) we operate some of the most amazing glacier hikes and climbs you will find in the World (yes we are serious, this is something very, very special). Click here for the complete list of glacier trips available from Skaftafell.

Get ready for an in depth glacier adventure tour, the Glacier Explorer will take you on to one of the most impressive outlet glaciers of Vatnajökul for a real exploration.  You can also combine this excursion with a boat tour on Jökulsárlon Glacier Lagoon and take our best selling tour, rightly named the Glacier Grand Slam.

In Skaftafell you can also join our super popular Glacier Wonders, only minutes from the National Park Service Terminal and get up close and personal with an actual ice fall, an outlet glacier crashing down a 800 meter high mountain. 

We also offer an amazing combination trip that includes glacier hiking and bird watching on the Ingólfshöfði Cape, as before, rightly named the Blue Ice & Black Sands.

And to top it of we guide the very demanding hike to the Hvannadalshnúkur on the Öræfajökull, giving those with strong legs and thirst for adventure a chance to stand on Iceland´s highest peak. This is our legendary trip White Giant.


Videos of Glacier Hiking in Iceland

The Complete Guide to Glaciers in Iceland

Everything you have ever wanted to know about glaciers in Iceland 

Introduction

Glaciers are one of the world’s most fascinating natural environments due to their dynamic and fluid nature. Currently they cover about 10% of the world’s total land area in ice and can be found in every continent. Here in Iceland approximately 14% of the country is covered by glaciers, with one single glacier, Vatnajökull, taking up 8% of the landmass.

 

Formation

In order for a glacier to form it requires certain climatic conditions, such as high levels of precipitation in the form of snow or freezing rain during the winter, and cool temperatures in the summer. This is to ensure the snowfall accumulation gained in the winter is higher than the snow lost during the summers by calving, melting and evaporation.

Glaciers can range in size from the smallest being the size of a football pitch, to glaciers stretching over 100km long. They are formed by snow that consistently accumulates over an area and compresses older snow that lies underneath it. Eventually the increasing pressure on the snow turns it into firn, which is a highly compact form of snow and thus leads to the formation of ice. As the weight increases, newly formed ice crystals become larger as air is squeezed out of the ice, this causes the blue colour of glacial ice.

 

Movement

Another key feature of a glacier is the way they flow like extremely slow rivers. Glaciers can be generalised into two types: continental, which flow outwards, and alpine, which flow downwards.

Alpine glaciers are pulled down the valleys due to gravity and their tremendous weight, and movement is caused by internal deformation which causes sliding at the base of the ice. This sliding occurs due to melt water seeping through cracks in the glacier, however the high pressures experienced under the ice can cause it to melt. Movement can also occur by ‘basal slip’, which is where soft sediment (containing water) slips causing the glacier to slide. In general, movement in glaciers is quite slow, with faster movement occurring at the top as opposed to the bottom, however glaciers can experience rapid movements. These rapid movements are called surges and glaciers may surge forwards moving several times faster than its usual speed, with glaciers in Alaska observed to surge tens of metres a day.

 

Features

Glaciers have a massive impact on their surrounding environment and are responsible for sculpting various mountains, carving out valleys and creating fjords. The glaciers achieve this erosion, via two methods, abrasion and plucking. The abrasion is caused by ice picking up small rock debris smaller than 0.002mm and using this like sand paper; the end result of this is steeper mountains and valley walls. Abrasion can also cause large glacier striations if the glacier picks up large boulders (larger than 300mm) and carves them along the rock bed. The other process of erosion is plucking, this is caused by glacial water penetrating cracks in the rock bed, freezing, and then expanding causing rocks to be plucked by a lever mechanism. This causes the glacier to pick up debris of all sizes. The end result of the debris being carried by a glacier creates lines of glacial till called Moraines, furthermore this can show the previous glacial maximum.

 

Moulin & Crevasses

Some features of glaciers such as moulins and crevasses, are very dynamic and may spontaneously appear and shape the glacial over a short space of time.

Along the surface of a glacier stream, melt water can be seen disappearing into holes, these holes are called moulins. They come in a range of sizes and can reach to the bottom of the glacier and flow all the way to the terminus, the end point of a glacier. These holes are believed be formed by small debris heating up the surface of a glacier causing small ponds to appear, as they become deeper the debris starts to mill tunnels into the ice.

Crevasses are giant cracks which can appear with a glacial sporadically. This is due to the movement of the glacier, where the centre and upper layers move quicker than the sides and base layer of ice due to the friction generated by the rocks. These crevasses are typically wedge shaped and can run along the entire length of a glacier, reaching to depths of around 45 metres and 20 metres wide. Snow bridges can form over these crevasses covering them up, however they can be very unstable, thus making travel across a glacier tough and perilous.

 

History

Over the past 750,000 years there has been eight ice age cycles, these ice ages meant that the glacial extent was at a maximum, this meant that 32% of the world’s land and 30% of the oceans were covered by ice, as opposed to 10% of today’s lands being covered in ice. During the last ice age, Scandinavia, Iceland, Arctic islands, most of Canada and the upper Midwest were covered in ice. The earth experienced a “little ice age’’ between the 17th to late 19th century, where glaciers were able to advance due to consistently cool temperatures. The earth is now believed to be approaching its next ice age cycle in next few 1000 years, however it remains unclear whether global warming will delay the onset of this cycle.

 

Climate change

There is no doubt within the scientific community that since 1970s the earth has been warming at a greater rate than in the last one thousand years. Greenhouse gases are believed to be the cause of climate change, with carbon dioxide levels increasing since the mid-19th century and even more noticeably during the last five decades. Glaciers all over the world have tended to retreat over the past 60 to 100 years with alpine glaciers being the most susceptible and unstable, although it is unclear whether this is due to climate trends or human induced climate change. Furthermore scientists are able to take a glimpse at the earth’s previous atmosphere since it is locked within the ice, thus provide clues to previous climates.

Glaciers and ice sheets are extremely important on a global scale since they affect sea levels, weather and provide fresh water to their surroundings. The effects of warming air temperatures in the Polar Regions have caused various negative effects such as sea level rise. This is a major problem since glaciers store about 75% of the world’s freshwater supply, melting of all the ice could cause sea levels to raise by roughly 70 metres globally. Even a sea level rise of just two metres could cause devastation to many costal environments. Glaciers can also affect the weather due to the cold air around the poles and warm air at the equator creating a temperature differential, resulting in complex jet streams of wind and storm formations across the globe.

Glaciers also have a big impact of people living nearby providing freshwater to irrigate crops, sources of renewable energy by hydroelectric power plants damming glacial melt water. Glaciers also provide important drinking water to many people in places such as Nepal and India, declines in this supply would cause local populations to become more dependent on unreliable monsoons.

Pictures of Glacier Hiking in Iceland


Icelandic glaciers & Activities

Vatnajökull & Jökulsárlón

Vatnajökull, meaning ‘glacier of rivers’, is Iceland’s largest glacier covering 8% of the total landmass and is Europe’s largest ice cap glacier. It is also home to Iceland’s tallest peak Hvannadalshnúkur standing at an astonishing height of 2,109.6 metres, and almost 30 outlet glaciers. Southeast of Vatnajökull is Jökulsárlón a massive glacial lake which sits at the edge of Breiðamerkurjökull. Jökulsárlón is believed to have started to form in the 1930s due to the changes to the glacial tongue Breiðamerkurjökull. The lake is filled with floating Icebergs and due to its stunning beauty it has been used as a setting for many Hollywood films such as Batman begins, Tomb Raider, Die Another Day and A View to Kill.  Arctic Adventures offers various hiking tours on Vatnajökull from the base camp at skaftafell, along with daytrips from Reykjavik to Jökulsárlón during the summer.

Langjökull

Langjökull, meaning ‘long glacier’, is Iceland’s second largest Ice cap, stretching to 50km in length and between 15km – 20km in width. This glacial ice cap is responsible for supplying water to Þingvellir national park, filling fissures with crystal clear water, which in turn flows into the lake Þingvallavatn. Here at Arctic adventures we offer snowmobiling tours which take you upon this glacier to explore its wilderness.
 

Sólheimjökull

Sólheimjökull means ‘home of the sun glacier’, perhaps an ironic name due to the weather, is a glacial tongue flowing down from the ice cap Mýrdalsjökull. On the glacier we offer our Blue ice tour, which involves glacial hiking and an introduction to ice climbing.
 

Snæfellsjökull

Snæfellsjökull standing at 1446 metres, made famous for its stunning views and it is the centre piece for Jules’s Vernes novel “Journey to the centre of the earth’’. Hiking tours are offered here during the summer period.
 

Eyjafjalljökull

Eyjafjallajökull, translating to island mountain glacier, is probably most famous for its eruption on 20th of March 2010, this also brought into light how notoriously hard the pronunciation is for non-natives. This eruption caused major disruption to air travel in Northwest Europe, along with flood waters in nearby rivers and blankets of ash smothering the land. Hiking tours are offered during the summer, starting from Þórsmork valley up to the top were the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 occurred 



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Reviewed March 28, 2014

“Exciting, Interesting, Different,”

We really enjoyed this activity. Had thought we would be walking up right through a cave/tunnel. When we arrived at our destination. I was confused to see miles of flat black lava with no sign of caves. Imagine my face when our lovely guide Thor.... More IntrepidExplorerMo
Reviewed March 28, 2014

“Blue Ice Tour”

We booked this trip with Arctic Adventures and it was the best of the 3 trips we did with them. This was in part due to the guides who took us, Thor and Snorri, who made the day fun, relaxed and really interesting. Thanks to both of them.... More Alison O

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