Glacier Hike, Iceland

With only 2 full days in Iceland, and a half day with a quick stop at the Blue Lagoon we had to maximise our time in the Island’s capital Reykjavik and see some of the majestic sites. We decided on a full day ‘Golden Circle‘ tour, seeing the great Geysir area, Gullfoss waterfall and Þingvellir national park,  scene of the separating tectonic plates, along with a full day glacier hike.

Our glacier hike involved attaching ‘cramp ons’ to your shoes, grabbing some spikes/sticks/poles and walking up  the frozen glacial tongue that is the Sólheimajökull Glacier on Iceland’s South Coast.

We had a small group, approximately 8-10 people and a very informed guide (who we were trusting to rescue us should we fall in a crevasse. Or crevice). After some quick instructions we were on the ice, heading somewhere upwards towards the Mt Hekla Volcano. This was 2007, two years before it erupted. “Oh we expect it to erupt any day now, we’ve been waiting,” the locals told me nonchalantly. Consequently I spent the next few hours looking over my shoulder expecting to see lava flowing down the glacier tongue and sweeping us out to sea. Dramatic? Me?

Despite the lack of volcanic explosions we thoroughly enjoyed our glacier hike and no one was lost inside a giant crack in the ice, swirling down below, Ice Age style. If you only have a few days in Iceland, a glacier hike is definitely a recommendation!

Maligne Lake, Canada

We debated over whether or not to do the $50+ cruise on Maligne Lake, which is located approximately one hour out of Jasper, Alberta. It is dubbed the number one attraction in Canada ( advertising technique? There is a lot of other spectacular things to do in Canada as well) but we had already spent a small fortune riding in gondolas and white water rafting.

The drive out to Maligne Lake from Jasper is picturesque, stopping on the way at Maligne Canyon and Medicine Lake for views and the compulsory photographs. Maligne Lake from the shore is stunning, with its far off glaciers, mountains and historical boat shed. Curiosity got the better of our money and we paid for the cruise, which motors up the long lake for 40 minutes or so to the famous ‘Spirit Island’ – which is actually an isthmus (love that word) and coined as the most photographed view in Canada.

So the verdict; it was amazing – the views from the boat and the stop off point at Spirit Island are magnificent, even on a cloudy day. The cruise is peaceful and the commentary informative and light-hearted. Still not sure if it worth the price tag, make sure you bundle your attractions to save money, with white water rafting and the Jasper tramway.