Take a look at our portfolio of FREE Teaching Resources!

Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike: An unbeatable experience!

Last updated: Jan 16th, 2024


There’s no shortage of amazing, incredible and truly “wow” worthy moments on any school geography trip to Iceland, but if you’re looking for something unique and memorable then look no further than a hike on the mighty glacier, Sólheimajökull.

Strap on your crampons and grab your safety equipment, because this is two and half hours that students, and teachers, will never forget!

A group of people changing shoes and sat on a platform in a room

First up, let’s get equipped!

 

The excitement starts from the moment you leave the coach. Poking it’s head round the side of the welcome building, you get your first glimpse of Sólheimajökull, the huge black glacier that comes from the Myrdalsjökull ice cap – truly impressive! But before your group can get any closer, it’s time to get prepped, and that means heading into the hut for a safety briefing and fitting of your safety equipment, which includes a harness, helmet and a pair of crampons. For many students, this is the moment when the realisation kicks in that they are about to walk on an actual glacier, an experience not afforded to many, and one that should be undertaken with excitement as well as care and attention.  

One thing’s for sure, from the very start, you know you’re in safe hands with the experienced and extremely knowledgeable Icelandic Mountain Guides. You’ll be introduced to your team who’s job it is to ensure that you have an unforgettable and safe experience.  

All equipped? Let’s get going!

 

In circa. 2001, groups would leave the hut with crampons ready and step straight on to the glacier…but not today! Sólheimajökull offers one of the greatest examples of glacial retreat and the effects of climate change, and students get to see this for themselves as they take the 15-minute walk to the foot of the glacier passing large, stunning glacial lagoon.

This walk to the foot of the glacier also offers some of the most spectacular views of the glacier. With every step the monumental scale of this natural wonder, only seen to many in textbooks, photos and in videos, now becomes a reality.

School geography trips are all about bringing geography to life for students and the approach to the glacier does just that – and we haven’t even got to the main event yet!

A group of students walking towards a glacier on black sand. Sólheimajökull Glacier is in the background.

 

Crampons on and the first step onto the glacier!

 

After the challenge of securely fitting your crampons (and trust us when we say it’s a challenge!), it’s time to take the first steps onto the glacier.  

At first, you may not realise you’re on the glacier due to black dirt covering the gleaming ice. The Mountain Guides find a safe place to stop to explain to you some of the history about the glacier, including how the eruption of Katla is responsible for the black ash that covers the glacier. Friendly and funny in their delivery, students listen in with awe and wonder! 

As you wind your way slowly up the glacier, the incredible features that students will have learned about start to reveal themselves, such as crevasses 

 

A group of students with helmets on walking up the Sólheimajökull glacier, landscape of ice.

 

A steady climb and then…”WOW”!

 

Steadily winding your way up the glacier, slowly getting used to the technique required to effectively walk in crampons, and then the world seemingly opens up right before your eyes. That true “wow” moment arrives and you feel like you’re standing on top of the world! 

A large expanse of flat ice glistens before you and suddenly the scale of this magnificent glacier begins to become apparent. The true experience of standing on an actual glacier is here! Students’ senses are awakened. Touch the ice, feel the cold, see the scale, here the crunch of the ice – with the help of your guides, suddenly the theory comes to life!  

If you’re lucky enough to climb on a clear day, the views are truly unbeatable! Below you, a large glacial lagoon, in front of you stunning views as far as the eye can see, and around you, endless planes of ice. If you want a school photo to sum up your Icelandic experience, then surely the top of Sólheimajökull is the place to do it? 

Group of people at the top of the Sólheimajökull glacier, a person is walking back down it.

The descent is as good as the assent.

 

By now you’ve mastered the crampons, which makes the descent much easier than you anticipate it will be on your way up. Phew! The decent gives a different view of the glacier as you get to see some of the fascinating crevasses from above. The glistening ice disappears once again under the blanket of black ash and the glacier simply melts back into the ground below.

Before you head back to the hut, stop for a moment and take a look back at the glacier! You’ve just walked on Sólheimajökull! What a truly unique and memorable moment and one that opens the doors to questions and intrigue about glaciation and the effects of climate change.  

  • Truly unforgettable experience
  • Real-life case study
  • Classroom learning brought to life

 

And don’t just take our word for it!

On our post-tour questionnaires, the glacier hike is one of the most mentioned experiences when teachers are asked about their best moments of the tour.  

What our customers say

“Our best moment had to be the glacier walk – students thoroughly enjoyed this, going out of their comfort zone to experience something they have never seen or experienced before.”

Mercia Academy

It is so hard to pick just one best moment … for me it was the glacier walk, seeing the ice formations, crevasses, water flowing below the ice was amazing. This was a once in a lifetime trip for pupils experiencing so much geography first hand that I am sure they will never forget!” 

Springfield School

“One of our best moments has to be climbing up the glacier with soft, fluffy snow falling. The students telling us how moved they were at the thought of the glacier disappearing in the next 100 years. This whole trip was an inspiring experience for anyone who loves Geography!” 

Sir William Perkins's School

“Our best moment was the glacier hike – it was a hit with everyone on the group. Adventurous without being too strenuous. It catered for all abilities. 

Methodist College, Belfast

“My favourite moment of the tour had to be seeing the wonder of pupils as they stepped onto their first glacier. 

Inverurie Academy

An experience you’ll never forget!

Take a look at how the Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike can fit into your tailor-made Iceland itinerary and discover some of the other great experiences on offer on your next Geography Trip to Iceland.

 

Get in Touch

Related Articles

City of Reykjavik from above, Capital of Iceland

Quirky things to do in Reykjavik on an Iceland School Trip

Quirky things to do in Reykjavik and fun facts to share with students! We’ve created this light-hearted list of fun and quirky things to do…

Iceland: The Land of Fire and Ice

There's all types of volcanoes and glaciers responsible for this amazing landscape's affectionate nickname.

A view from a glacier in Iceland

The Most Popular Places to Visit Whilst on an Iceland School Trip

Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle Tour or the iconic Northern Lights are just waiting for you in the land of fire and ice. There's more for…