An extreme Super Jeep adventure over 6 days to one of the most remote locations on the planet. Vatnajokull Glacier is Europe's largest glacier and the third largest on earth, about 8,300 square kilometres in size so this trip will easily give you the feeling of being in a polar region.
The caldera of Grimsvotn is just one of several sub-glacial volcanic systems in Vatnajokull. Its most recent eruption was on 21 May 2011.
The caldera of Grimsvotn (meaning "The Lakes of Grimur") cannot be accessed by regular vehicles; only by Super Jeeps and with very experienced drivers who know how to maneuver safely in the snow and on the glacier. It is this combination of Super Jeeps with experienced drivers which ensures you are able to enjoy this extraordinary adventure in the middle of nowhere.
Weather and snow conditions can never be fully predicted. Indeed, on this trip they play a very important part in creating an amazing screenplay for us to participate in.
The south coast
The road takes us along the south coast of Iceland. As soon as our Jeeps turn away from the main road, the landscape swiftly changes, becoming wilder and rougher. An impressive landscape of huge lava fields and glacial rivers will open out before your eyes. You might still see large amounts of black ash from the last eruption of Grismvotn in 2011, or from the famous Eyjafjallajokull Glacier in 2010.
Our last stop for fuel will be at the Hrauneyjar Highland Centre. This is the point at which standard 4x4 Jeeps can go no further! We then travel into Vatnajokull National Park, and into the endless white world of glacial snow. Tungnaa, a huge glacial river marks the entrance to the glacier and we will drive right through this river. Not an easy task but you can trust your driver who will not hesitate to ford the river, maybe even tied to a rope, in order to locate the best way across it.
If you have not used your camera yet, this will certainly be an excellent photo opportunity to take some unique shots. You will be glad you had packed clothes suitable for a crossing of the North Pole (skiing clothes also do the job).
This is literally "the end of road" for the next few days. After a few hours journeying deeply into the vastness of the white wilderness, snow and sky will blend as one.
You might feel as though you have completely escaped civilization and arrived on another planet. You will see a white world of ice, and possibly a display of aurora borealis, the northern lights, dancing in the sky. The last hill we climb will take us up to an older crater of the Grimsvotn caldera and that is where our base will be for the following 5 days.
The cabin at Vatnajokull Glacier
Once the door to the cabin has been found and some shovelling away of snow has been completed, we will find a spacious and comfortable hut with bunk-beds and cooking facilities. The first task will be to melt snow in the huge pot and make the barbecue ready for roasted lamb or similar. If you are lucky the guides might bring some music for the CD player (feel free to bring your own music) and they might also start singing!
Next to the hut there are two smaller huts where, surprisingly, you will find a warm shower and a sauna. If you wonder where the warm steam comes from, just recall that you are now sitting next to an active volcano.
Active volcano Grimsvotn
Grimsvotn volcanic system is close to the center of the glacial cap, and it is right here where we find one of the mightiest geothermal areas on earth and also Iceland's most active central volcano system.
Eruptions have been quite frequent since Iceland was first settled. The main crater is 35 square kilometres in size. There is a glacial lake in one side of the crater and a 200 metres thick ice cap floats on top of it.
Due to the constant geothermal heat rising from beneath, the surface of the lake continues rising and when the lake reaches its limits, it gushes down to the lowlands by way of the River Skeidara which flows from the glacier of Skeidararjokull.
A visit to the highest point of Vatnajokull Glacier and also of Iceland (Hvannadalshnjukur - 2110 metres high) is an option, another option is to drive to another volcano at the northern edge of the glacier and, again, enjoy a hot bath and a beer in the middle of nowhere surrounded by snow and ice.
Unfortunately, the days will pass by all too quickly and it will be "game over" and time to return to civilization. If it were not for your photographs you could think it had all been a dream!