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Fire and Ice Helicopter Tour

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Viktória is the “new girl” here at What’s On and in Iceland. She comes from Hungary, studies Viking Stuff at the University and loves photography, so we’re sending her on ALL the tours to get a fresh perspective on what they’re like. As the old Icelandic saying goes “perceptive is the eye of the visitor.

Photos by Ágnes Viktória Jávorszky

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I think we can all agree that Icelandic nature is majestic and breathtaking. Its unspoilt beauty still has one flaw, though; it can be very difficult to access. A lot of places are only accessible to specialized vehicles, and others are only accessible on foot. Some aren’t even at all. Luckily, there’s a solution if you’re short on time or hiking is not an option: helicopters!

I got a chance to take the Fire and Ice helicopter tour recently when the tour company had a last-minute cancellation. Of course, I jumped at the chance, especially since the weather was beautiful and the conditions were perfect.

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Now before I tell you all about my tour in the helicopter, I want to give you a warning. Helicopters are smaller than airplanes and move differently (and more). If you tend to suffer from motion sickness, take a pill before the flight. Learn from my mistakes!

Disclaimer aside, the trip was fascinating! We started off from the Domestic Airport in Reykjavík (a 15-minute walk (or a 5-minute taxi ride) from the centre, very convenient). We got into the helicopter (there were five of us. plus the pilot), buckled up, and were off! Our first stop was Glymur, the second tallest waterfall in Iceland (dethroned as the tallest one in 2011). It was a majestic sight to see the water plummeting down between the mountains into the deep canyon below. The pilot made sure we could see the waterfall from all angles and did a lot of turning around so that everyone could take a good look at the waterfall. Glymur is a stunning sight and even more so from a helicopter, where you can see the waterfall from all angles, instead of just from below as you would if you hiked there.

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After Glymur, it was time for the Ice part of the Fire and Ice helicopter tour. We flew on to the tiny (compared to the others, at least) Þórisjökull glacier, right next to Langjökull, our first landing spot. There was fresh snow on the glacier and the weather was kind to us: It was -10 °C but the air was still, so it didn’t really feel that cold. The air was crisp, fresh, and clean and the sun, barely over the horizon, painted everything in a yellow-pink light.

After taking off again, we flew over the snow-covered mountains of Iceland, past some beautiful landscapes. We flew over Þingvallavatn (the lake at the national park Þingvellir), which was absolutely astonishing in the dim sunlight and the pink and baby blue sky was reflected on its matte surface.

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Our next stop was the Fire part of the tour. We landed on Hengill, an active volcano. Yes, you read that right. Luckily for us, the last eruption was 2000 years ago, although the bubbling hot springs in the area prove there’s still plenty of heat there. We landed at Hengill for a few minutes and walked around, admiring the scenery with the snow and the steam rising from the hot springs.

After the compelling contrast of the Hengill geothermal area, we took off once more, this time on our way back to Reykjavík. When we got there, however, we still had a final treat, a bird’s eye view of the capital. We flew over the city for a while, and seeing the now-familiar city from this point of view was such a treat. Afterwards, we landed the last time, at the domestic airport where our trip had begun.

The moment we landed, my first thought was of relief, due to the aforementioned motion sickness, but that was quickly replaced by regret that the Fire and Ice helicopter tour was over. Even despite quite a bit of nausea, I would definitely do this again in a heartbeat. It was absolutely amazing to look at Iceland from above like this. Seeing these beautiful natural wonders (without an exhausting, even dangerous hike) was incredible and the colours, the sparkling snow, and the dim but colourful sunlight were a feast for the eyes.

Photos by Ágnes Viktória Jávorszky