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Vatnajökull Tours from Jöklasel

The vast Vatnajökull glacier covers about 8,000 sq. km (3,089 sq. miles), with an average thickness of 400m (1,312 ft.) and a maximum thickness of 950m (3,117 ft.). Being atop Vatnajökull is truly transporting, and returning to sea level feels like reentry from outer space. F985 dramatically ascends 16km (10 miles) to Jöklasel (tel. 478-1703), a base camp at the edge of Vatnajökull, 840m (2,756 ft.) above sea level. Jöklasel is open from June 1 to September 10, from 11:15am to 5pm, and the small cafe there serves a daily lunch buffet from 11:15am to 2pm. Jöklasel can be reached in a good 4WD vehicle, but the road is nerve-racking and often thick with fog.

Most visitors come to Jöklasel for the snowmobile and Super Jeep tours based there. (Some visitors take walks on the glacier from Jöklasel, but they're at risk of falling into a crack or getting lost if fog closes in.) Jöklasel's two tour operators are Glacier Jeeps (tel. 478-1000; www.glacierjeeps.is) and Vatnajökull Travel (tel. 894-1616; www.vatnajokull.is). The most popular tour is the 3-hour snowmobile package, which costs 9,900kr ($158/£80)and includes pickup from the intersection of the Ring Road and Route F985 (about 35km/22 miles east of Jökulsárlón and 42km/26 miles west of Höfn), plus an hour on snowmobiles. Glacier Jeeps has scheduled departures at 9:30am and 2pm from late April to September 10 (reservations required). Vatnajökull Travel runs a daily scheduled bus from Höfn to Jöklasel to Jökulsárlón and back; some of their tours combine snowmobiling with a boat trip at Jökulsárlón.

Snowmobile riders are outfitted with helmets, jumpsuits, rubber boots, and gloves. Make sure to bring sunglasses, since they don't supply goggles. Tours set out rain or shine and reach a height of 1,220m (4,003 ft.). Your views will depend entirely on the weather: you might see 100km (62 miles) in all directions, or just blankets of cloud. Normally you'll at least rise above the cloudline for clear views of the vicinity. Weather conditions are impossible to predict from sea level, so call ahead. Even snowmobile novices could find the riding too tame; everyone proceeds single file at the speed of the most cautious driver. Both tour companies also lead Super Jeep tours on Vatnajökull, from short joyrides to multi-day excursions.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.