For us adventure seekers and adrenalin junkies, there are few things in life that instantly qualify for “bucket list” status. People talk about “Surfing big swells in Mauritius and Hawaii” and about “Heli-skiing in Alaska” but, if you’re after something a little more diverse and an “into the wild” adventure, that only a select and very lucky few have done, then snow-kiting the glaciers of Iceland CANNOT be matched. This is a completely unique adventure not to be missed!
Imagine standing at the summit of a glacier, looking down over an alien landscape (the like of which you have only seen in film); one that stretches are far as the eye can see, with nothing but the wind, the sun, and an endless powder playing ground before you. Imagine standing there flooded with a sense of achievement, having snow kited to the summit with your friends, knowing that only a few hundred people will ever have the privilege of seeing what lies before you, now you’re getting close.
When the memories of the annual kite-surfing trips have faded into the run-of-the-mill background, and you are old and grey, your time snow kiting on Langjokull glacier will stand out in sharp relief, crisp as the day you were there!
Langjokull offers over 1,000 km2 of completely untracked snow to explore, with no ski-lifts, no tourists, no fast-food joints, no planes trains or automobiles (well, perhaps a few crazy Icelandic super-jeeps). Instead you get to spend a week with a group of like-minded adventurers, all there to soak in the experience of a lifetime. Hone your snow-kiting skills during the day, help build an ice wall shelter and an igloo in your downtime, scarf down a huge number of calories to keep yourself going, and then, just when you think it can’t get any better, launch your kite one more time and experience the legendary midnight kiting session; whisking along with the largest smile you will ever wear, watching as the sun sinks just below the horizon, triggering a spectacular red and gold display in the West, while the new day dawns blue and crisp in the East. You will never forget.
The glacier is an ever-changing beast, so much so it sometimes feels alive. The katabatic winds cause strange ripples that parade across the plateau at the summit of the glacier. Gentle slopes at the base of the glacier give way to high peaks in the distance, perfect to ascend under kite power then carve up on the way down, sending arcs of fresh snow soaring into the air behind you. Leave sight of base-camp with a buddy and it is time to break out the GPS, ready for your assault on the summit. Reaching it you suddenly realise how far you’ve come, losing sight of base miles behind, and astonishingly, how far there is still to go; distant peaks march off towards the horizon, further than the eye can see.
Returning to base with weary legs you’ll stare in disbelief at your GPS when it tells you you’ve tracked over 100km that day. With rock steady winds nearly every day you can continue to explore something new each time you head out. Tired from the previous day’s exertions? Why not build a kicker and show off your freestyle skills to the admiring audience at base-camp? Or, if you’re feeling brave, and have a high tolerance for cold, take as much speed as you can and try to kite across the shallow melt-water lakes at the base of the glacier (a Goretex dry suit is advised)!
Whether you’re a seasoned pro, or brand new to snow-kiting, this glacier has it all. Perfect steady winds and gentle slopes allow novices to perfect their technique on butter-smooth snow, while experienced back-country riders have an endless playground to explore.
Kex Hostel Reykjavik
On arriving in Iceland you will meet the rest of the crew for a night in downtown Reykjavik, an experience worthy of its own story, then head back to Kex hostel down near the waterfront for the night before your adventure begins. An ultra-cool hostel, Kex started life as a biscuit factory, and has quickly become one of the world’s hippest destinations, featuring great music, great food, and great micro brewery beers, to say nothing of the gorgeous Icelandic women at every turn!
We’ll arrange for the crew to share a dorm together (or if you prefer, you can have your own room for a small surcharge). Either way, it won’t really matter, as once you’re out on the town, your sleeping arrangements will be the last thing on your mind! After a hearty breakfast, for those who make it back in time, we’ll meet our transportation for the week (crazy jacked up jeeps), ready to head out for the adventure of a lifetime.
When we get back, after a spectacular week of snow-kiting, Kex makes for a great base from which to explorer a little more of Iceland. Ask us if you would to arrange a couple of extra nights and spend a little time luxuriating in the Blue Lagoon, or whale watching in the bay.
The Cabins - Husafell
Once we leave the comforts of Reykjavik in our 4x4 convey, we head North and a little West, passing through Borgarnes, where we can stock up on a few necessities, on our way to Husafell. Nestled on a lava plain 30 off-road minutes from Langjokull, Husafell is home to a small community and a collection of privately owned luxury cabins that will be our home for the week.
All our cabins are geo-thermally heated, providing unlimited heating and hot water. Each has a cosy lounge making for relaxed evenings and an outdoor hot-tub, perfect to sooth weary muscles after a spectacular day’s riding on the glacier.
Three airlines fly to Iceland: Iceland Air, Wow Air and Easy Jet. Flights from London or Manchester arrive at Keflavik airport, which has a great duty free shop (including the cheapest alcohol in Iceland)! Bus transfer from the airport takes about 45 mins to downtown to Reykjavik, where we drop off our kit at the cosy Kex Hostel. That night we'll hit the town and check out Reykjavik's famous bars, clubs, music scene, and perhaps meet the local wildlife. You'll need to pace yourselves though, Icelanders don’t start the night until midnight, and it’s normally daylight again before they quit!
After a recovery breakfast, we load up our jacked up super-jeeps and head out for a breathtaking 3 hour drive into the back country highlands towards the glacier; leaving behind a hazy but memorable night in Reykjavik.
Each morning we will meet at the Husafell restaurant for cooked breakfast and briefing for the day. A packed lunch will be prepared for you to take up to the glacier, and we’ll then head out for the 30 minute drive to snow-kiting nirvana.
We will of course prepare a base camp a few hundred metres up onto the snow and set up our very own glacier cafe using a burner to make a brew, and possibly even boil up some hot noodles!
Weather on the glacier can change quickly, you can experience anything from glorious sunny weather, good for kiting in t-shirt, to extreme conditions with very high winds just few hours later. So depending upon the forecast in the morning, we will make a plan for the day.
Each day could have a different agenda, it just all depends upon the conditions up on the glacier. Normally we would expect to kite 4 to 5 days out of 6 days. On the odd day where the conditions are just too severe, you can either chill out at the lodge or come on one of the many pre planned excursion days. As you can imagine there are plenty of things to see on this incredible volcanic island and we know many interesting places to take you.
If the conditions are right, and you’re feeling the magic, why not stay out one evening, for one of our legendary midnight snow-kite sessions? We can build an igloo for shelter and a snooze, and park up on the glacier for a night or two. We’ll dig out our own dining room table and seats from the snow and fire up a BBQ as we watch the sun hover across the horizon. When you’re ready set up your kite and blast off into the sunset! It doesn't get much better than that!
If you are planning to stay out on the glacier, sleeping in an Igloo (something you really do have to experience once in your life), then we would strongly recommend you bring some proper kit. A decent winter rated sleeping bag and foil backed roll mat will help, as sleeping on your snowboard bag, wrapped up in a foil kite, can be a bit miserable, especially if your mate is snoring his head off, toasty warm n cosy right next to you!
Snow-kiting to the summit of Langjokull in the midnight sun is without doubt one of the best kiting experiences the world has to offer. You really should add it to your bucket list!
All this is just two and a half hours flight time from London, and only five from New York. Iceland offers an unparalleled combination of landscape, snow, wind and during the spring, 23 hours daylight. At this time of year the sun slips down just below the horizon, but never really sets. Accompany this with boiling mud pools, spurting geysers, and steaming hot waterfalls, all set against a back drop of mountains, volcanoes and glaciers, and you'll see why Iceland is the ideal adventurers playground.
Spring time in Iceland can have varied weather conditions and these conditions can change rapidly and all in the course of one day. You can have spring like conditions or it can be bitterly cold with howling Northerly winds. Being caught with inadequate kit could put an immediate dampener to your session! So be prepared, better off with too much rather than to little clothing. As well as your usual kite equipment, harness kites, skis, snowboard etc.
Use the following as a guideline of other kit to bring along;