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Experiencing for myself the Iceland SuperJeep tour of Þórsmörk

Several years ago I had gone out to Iceland to find a someone who could offer a highly personalised and local guide to the area. I was delighted to meet Saeli, who met the brief in every way. We had discussed in detail the sort of SuperJeep tours he could run. We had spent a long day together and he had shown me in his SuperJeep snippets of all of them. Now I felt it was time to experience a full one.

We have had such fantastic feedback on Saeli and his team that I was very excited about the day – I knew it was going to be a goodie!

Sadly the weather put paid to my preference of going to the top of the Glacier on top of  Eyjafjallajökull volcano … the one that no-one can pronounce that exploded in 2010 – and so instead we went to Þórsmörk. My disappointment was short lived. Named after the Thunder God Thor, this SuperJeep Tour takes you up through the river bed right up to the bottom of the Glacier, and then beyond into the valley surrounded by rugged and majestic mountains.

The river fjording was exciting with Saeli explaining carefully before each crossing exactly his route, and what his escape route was if it got any deeper than he had anticipated. As a result I felt very relaxed and there were no mishaps, at each crossing we arrived safely at the other side. I quickly learnt though to close the windows as we crossed!

This valley is a dramatic black volcanic landscape littered with huge boulders that have been brought down by the Glacier and from the Volcano.

After an hour of driving Saeli just stopped and showed me on his GPS map how 3 years ago we would have been in the middle of a glacial lake, now it was the ash laden flood plain as the ash from the 2010 eruption totally filled up the lake! We had to take some ash home for our “Nature collection”!! A bit further on Saeli found a pyroclastic bomb thrown from the volcano – we were ecstatic!

The river winds it way across the glacial plain through towering and ominous cliffs. As a joke I said it reminded me of Mordur from Lord of the Rings. Saeli just smiled and about half an hour later showed me a towering opening in the cliffs which the locals call “The gates of Mordur”. Apparently Þórsmörk actually inspired Tolkien when he was writing Lord of the Rings. I could totally see why as I looked across at the dark overpowering cliffs that towered above us.

Saeli and his team are fascinating to talk to as they describe their experiences during the 2010 eruption. All of the guides are members of the Mountain Rescue Team and so were heavily involved in the organising the evacuation, bringing the animals in from the outside and the monitoring of the eruption progress. This included the movement of the glacial meltwater which came from the melted glacier on top of the volcano. Nature is something these guys live with as part of their daily lives and accept and embrace. They don’t talk about IF there is another eruption, but WHEN… the next time it will be Katla and it will have a much bigger impact on airspace than  Eyjafjallajökull. Ironically last time there was one airport open in Europe – and it was in Iceland! It was Akureyri which is in North Iceland and so upwind of the ash.

This was a great fun tour, with lots of opportunities to stop and wander if we wanted or just stay in the SuperJeep and explore the rugged landscape as we did.

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