The title says it all! Neither Trevor or I had ever ridden a Ski-Doo before, and we were both really excited. We weren’t just riding a Ski-Doo, we were riding a Ski-Doo on a freakin’ glacier! Europe’s largest glacier, in fact!
Not wanting to over-exert ourselves before the action started, we headed off a bit later than usual and took it easy in the morning. First we took in the Jokulsarlon lagoon.
We arrived at the meeting point for the tour two hours early and spent the next 120 minutes napping and watching new episodes of Rick and Morty.
At 2:00, we got out of our camper, and waited for our tour guide to show up. An elderly couple got out of their car and asked if we were there for the Ski-Doo tour as well. As soon as the woman opened her mouth, I knew they were from Quebec. They lived close to the Ottawa border.
Within a minute or two, what I can only describe as a baby monster truck pulled up beside us. Sadly, this was not to be our ride up to the glacier, since there weren’t enough of us on the tour. The woman was sorely disappointed by this.
We got in a standard jeep and started making our way up the winding mountain towards Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Europe. Vat, as I’m going to refer to it from now on, covers over 8, 000 kilometres squared.
And just like that, we’re flying at an altitude of 1300 metres! Vat’s thickness varies from 400 to 1, 000 metres, and at its peak, it stands at just over 2, 000 metres.
On the drive up, our tour guide informed us that he had the honour of driving the actors from Game of Thrones up to the glacier earlier in the year to film scenes from the battle north of the Wall. He also shared some really interesting information about the glacier.
- It is not only moving, but shrinking.
- When the settlers first arrived in 900 AD, there was no glacier.
- It started growing in 1100 AD.
- It’s been shrinking drastically in the past century. The glacier used to reach all the way down to the valley in the last photo in this set of pictures.
- However they don’t believe this is entirely due to Global Warming; they say it’s just the cyclical nature of the planet. (We just happen to be moving the process along quicker, because we’re efficient like that.)
The tour itself was 3 hours, but between driving up to the glacier, getting dressed, getting instructions on how to drive the Ski-Doo, getting undressed, and driving back down, we actually probably spent between 60-80 minutes riding. It didn’t matter, though; it was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the past 2+ months. Those things can really move! There were times when we were bumping along, and I couldn’t help giggling like a little kid. It was so much bloody fun.
When he was explaining how to ride, the guide said that ideally, you want to stay at around 30 km per hour; anything below that, and it’s hard to keep control of your Ski-Doo. He actually said that the faster you go, the easier it is to drive. Yes sir! Now while we probably did drive at an average speed of 30 km/hour, we definitely hit as fast as 50 at some points. Those were obviously the most fun parts of the tour!
Probably the only tricky part about the whole experience was that our guide emphasized that we all had to ride in a single file line; everybody had to drive on his tracks. He would come around and turn on each person’s Ski-Doo for them, then he would mount his and head off. We’d follow in the same order every time. This was to ensure that nobody deviated off course and ventured off into an area that wasn’t as secure. However, when you have a freakin’ majestic mountain view in front of you, it’s sometimes hard to stay focused!
It was also a little nerve wracking for me because the guy in front of me was a bit of a large fella, and there were a couple of times where the right ski definitely went up in the air. I kept expecting him and his wife to take a tumble. Thankfully, everybody made it through in one piece.
And then it was back down to reality.
On our drive back to Skaftafell, we stopped by a random lake for some pictures.
That’s the face of a man who just conquered the largest glacier in Europe on a freakin’ Ski-Doo.