Iceland is famous for the extraordinary natural beauty of its volcanic-carved landscapes and more than ten per cent of the island is covered with ice. The nearest extensive glacier to the capital city of Reykjavik is Langjökull, which stretches across 367 miles sq (950 km sq) in the mid-western highlands and is the second-largest in the country. The glacier sits at 4,000 ft (1,200 m) above sea level and its melt waters travel through subterranean streams to feed Lake Þingvallavatn 32.25 miles (50 km) to the south. Over many millennia Langjökull’s ice has grown to a thickness of 1,650 ft (500 m), and in 2010 a system of vast manmade ice caves and tunnels were excavated underneath the glacier, big enough to be explored by eight-wheeled trucks, which venture underground to tour a mysterious world of dazzling blue and silver compacted ice.
Visiting Langjökull can be combined with a tour of the Golden Circle, a popular sightseeing route from Reykjavik that encompasses some of Iceland’s most extraordinary geographical phenomena, from geysers and volcanic craters to spectacular waterfalls such as Gullfoss. The snow-swept countryside around the glacier is also popular for snow mobile expeditions, cross-country (Nordic) ski-ing, trekking and mountaineering.
Langjökull is 12.5 miles (20 km) from Husafell down an unmade track, which is open June through September, weather permitting. Thanks to the unpredictability of the ice, it is not possible to make a private visit to the glacier.