Since opening in 2015, the Into the Glacier ice tunnel experience in Iceland has received quite a bit of attention in the press. Being the travel trendsetters that we are, many of the staff at Nordic Visitor have jumped at the chance to explore the depths of Langjökull glacier and see what the fuss is all about.
Here to tell us about just how cool it is to be deep inside a glacier is Fjóla, one of our travel experts in our Iceland office.
Wow, an ice tunnel...in Iceland! What's it like?
Fjóla: It's amazing. I mean, it's INSIDE a glacier! Not exactly an everyday experience. And what‘s not great about being surrounded by ancient layers of ice?
This tunnel offers a cross-section of the glacier, and with the information you get from the guide you're able to see in the stripes in the walls (the layers) when it was summer, when it was winter and when there was a volcanic eruption. Each layer tells a story.
The guides are experts in this area, and they can tell you a lot about glaciers in general, for example how blue ice gets its colour and other interesting facts. So besides the fun photo opportunities you also get a unique learning experience.
How is it different from other ice caves?
Fjóla: An ice cave is naturally formed, and there are many of them in Iceland [editor's note: only go with an experienced, licensed guide into, or on, a glacier or cave of any kind in Iceland]. But this is really more of a tunnel since it is man-made. It took a few years to build it with a specialised construction crew under the supervision of scientists.
This has all sorts of cool stuff inside, including special lighting effects, a few small exhibits, a lounge/seating area and a chapel at the end of the tunnel.
Sounds cool! And maybe a bit cold?
Fjóla: It's not bad. Inside it‘s about -1° C so you will of course need to dress in warm layers. It's also smart to wear rain-resistant jacket and trousers and some hiking boots with good grip for some of the slippery spots on the ground. You'll get crampons for your shoes on the tour.
And as part of the tour is spent outside walking a short distance to and from the tunnel entrance, you should also make sure to dress appropriately for current weather conditions.
How big is this tunnel?
Fjóla: Inside it's roughly 3 metres wide most of the way and about 800 metres (half a mile) long. In all, the tunnel's size is about 2000 square metres. To put that in perspective, Langjökull (which means "Long Glacier" in English) is Iceland's second largest glacier and covers about 950 square kilometres.
How long do you spend inside?
Fjóla: Overall you spend about one hour inside with a few stops and points/facts from the guide, and the walk is not too challenging.
Where is this and how do you get there?
Fjóla: Langjökull glacier is in West Iceland, a couple hours from the capital area. On guided tours from Reykjavik, you'll be driven to Húsafell from where you will switch to an 8-wheeler super-truck to get up the glacier to the tunnel. A whole tour with transfers takes around 3 - 3.5 hours, maybe longer if you opt for a tour with additional activities included.
Are you feeling adventurous like Fjóla? Just ask one of Nordic Visitor's travel experts about adding guided activities to your holiday in Iceland. There are plenty of ways to experience Iceland's ice all year-round: glacier walks, ice climbing tours, super jeep safaris, snowmobile excursions, helicopter tours, boat rides among icebergs and more!