Being a huge fan of off-roading, four-wheeling, overlanding or however you want to call it, it is no doubt that Iceland is a dream destination for me. Last summer I headed deep into the highlands with a Land Rover Defender. For my second trip to Iceland in winter I wanted to take it a step further so I contacted SouthCoast Adventure. Read along why this was an incredible experience!
Goal: doing a super jeep tour in Iceland
There are a few super jeep tours in Iceland but most often you’ll find them going to the Golden Circle or a South Coast attraction like black sand beach or the Solheimasandur plane wreck, places you can get to with a regular rental car as well. SouthCoast Adventure is different; it’s truly a category on its own. SouthCoast Adventure is one of the few super jeep tour organizers in Iceland that take you to places that aren’t accessible by normal car or even regular 4×4, and especially not during winter times!
Before I got to Iceland, the people from SouthCoast Adventure and I exchanged some emails where I explained my goal for this trip. Embarking on an adventure to Hekla, or to the top of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano that had a massive eruption back in 2010, or maybe even deep into the highlands to Landmannalaugar would be the absolute highlight to my trip. After emailing back and forth for a bit, they signed me up for the Eyjafjallajökull tour! Of course they notified me way in advance that the weather is a huge factor and could change plans last minute.
Change of plans: to Thorsmörk!
When I arrived in Iceland I immediately noticed that the weather had been (and still was) very rough, even for February. The top of the Eyjafjallajökull was covered in clouds and the snowfall made it impossible to get there. So the experts from SouthCoast Adventure decided not to go, because after all if you’ve seen one cloud from the inside, you’ve basically seen them all! They came up with a new plan: We would try and head to the valley of Thorsmörk. They’d actually tried to do that recently but hadn’t succeeded due to the excessive snowfall. But Icelanders don’t give up so easily. They just try again!
Not an easy task
The mountain road F249 dramatically changed from an asphalted road close to Seljalandsfoss, over a gravel road towards Nauthusagil waterfall, to… well… no road at all! Well, I suppose there was a gravel road somewhere underneath all this ice and snow, but it was by no means clear where to drive. But when the ground is covered in snow, you can basically drive wherever you want because you don’t harm the fragile surface. So I wasn’t expecting big problems but oh boy was I wrong!
I should have known we were up for a true expedition, because after a couple of kilometres we came across some tourists in a Dacia Duster. They ignored the warning signs that this mountain road is closed during the entire winter and had tried to tame this road themselves. They failed miserably and got stuck an entire night! So right about that time I realised that 1) this is really a snow expedition and 2) I’m glad that I didn’t venture out on my own.
From that point onward 2 other super jeeps to drive in convoy joined us, and I soon learned why: You need a wingman for when you’re stuck. Being stuck became sort of like a new lifestyle for us and I have to admit that I’m also very glad that I was wearing decent ski pants because standing outside waiting for the truck to be pulled out of the ice can be cold AF.
And just when you thought shit (and by shit I mean the weather) couldn’t get any worse, some Icelandic weather god was like ‘bro hold my beer’. Halfway the journey to Volcano Huts in Thorsmörk, conditions got so worse that even our highly modified super jeep was struggling. I got the feeling that this was a bit more adventure than some of the (more regular dressed) tourists that joined the tour signed up for but I loved it! To solve our superjeep conundrum we switched over to Stella. Stella is a massive 6×6 monster that is one of the few vehicles that ever made it to the South Pole. Now it’s living its second life in Iceland. This alien vehicle should get us to Thorsmörk in no time. We got to Thorsmörk just fine with this insane vehicle and let me tell you, I went full beastmode on the food they offered at the volcano huts. I recommend the chicken soup!
It was a joy to see how the expert drivers of SouthCoast Adventures used different techniques to get through the thick layer of snow and ice, how they used the diff locks on their vehicles, and could alter the tyre pressure from inside the jeep to adapt to the different ground surfaces. I couldn’t express the feeling when we finally reached Volcano Huts after 5 hours of struggling. And to say that without snow you can reach the huts in less than an hour! Or maybe it was the thought of that hot lunch that was finally within reach that made us all ecstatic.
Some of the other tourists were hoping the driver was joking when he said F249 is actually a dead-end but I knew better. I’ve been on this road last summer (during much better conditions!) and to see how it looked covered in snow made me look out the window like a little kid. After lunch, we had to go all the way back but once the tracks are made, it goes a hell of a lot quicker! We had time to stop at Gigjökull glacier, an outlet glacier from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. The glacier experiences substantial melts over the last years. By climate change? Not exactly. Gigjökull has also melted considerably because of the recent volcano eruption in 2010, making the glacier a pretty lousy indicator of climate change, but an impressive glacier nonetheless. The experts on our super jeep tour to Thorsmörk brought up stories from when they were here as kids and have seen the glacier and the lake in front evolve over the years. Their favourite activity when they were kids was heading into the valley of Thorsmörk during the holidays on horse! Maybe I should try that on my next trip myself, haha ;)! I loved how the guides are all locals who grew up in the region and were friends with the people from the farms on the road towards the valley.
SouthCoast Adventure is your choice for an unforgettable experience
Doing a Super Jeep Tour in Iceland with SouthCoast Adventures is honestly a unique experience and well worth the money. Just be aware of the fact that the destination of the tour can sometimes be altered during winter because of the unpredictable weather forecast in Iceland, but the people from SouthCoast Adventure will try their utmost to deliver a high-quality and once-in-a-lifetime experience! I’m sure you’ll go home like me with an incredible story to tell and you’ll have no trouble making all your friends jealous.