Just 20km southeast of Húsafell, in an isolated location on the western edges of the Interior, lies Iceland’s second-largest ice cap, Langjökull (Long Glacier). Covering 950 square kilometres, the glacier resembles a narrow protruding finger wedged between the Hallmundarhraun lavafield and Kjölur, and is visible for miles around. It’s now the subject of the tour that everyone in Iceland is talking about – a trip inside a glacier. Until now, at various locations across the country, it’s been possible to take a trip by special vehicle up onto a glacier, but never to go inside a live, moving glacier. In June 2015 that all changed and Húsafell is at the forefront of
this ground-breaking development.
Tours (daily at 11am, 1pm & 3.30pm; times are from base camp, 30min earlier from the booking office; 17,900kr/person, 2000kr extra for shuttle to base camp; reservations should be made before arrival In Húsafell; 578 2550, intotheglacier.is) begin either at the service centre in Húsafell (next to the bistro), or at the so-called base camp where the gravel road up towards the glacier peters out; the exact location changes depending on the extent of the glacier so you should always check when you book where you should meet the tour if you decide to make your own way to the start point. Here, you transfer to a converted mobile rocket launcher, formerly in service with NATO, equipped with huge tyres which can be automatically deflated or inflated depending on the ice conditions. Having trundled up the glacier to a height of 1260m above sea level, you’re now at the entrance to the series of tunnels which have been hollowed out from the icecap. It takes roughly an hour to walk through the 600m of tunnels which form a circular loop – at the furthest extent you’ll be around 200m inside the glacier with 30m of snow and ice above and 300m below you. Since the glacier moves at around 20–30cm per year and the tour is in its infancy, it’s not yet known what will happen to the tunnels over time, though it’s expected some renovation work will be required to keep them open. In total, the tour lasts around two hours, though the descent by glacial truck back down the glacier is much faster than the ascent.
Should you decide not to take the tour, you can still see Langjökull if you take either the Kjölur or Kaldidalur Interior routes, since both roads pass close to its foothills.