Adventurer of the Week: Claire, Forever Chasing Wanderlust on a Glacier

29. September 2016 —
Claire Ryan

Claire, a traveller and blogger from Australia, shares her glacier walk and ice climb experience as one stop on a multi-stop global adventure which will ultimately take her to Antarctica. Iceland turned out to be a great warm up! ( and yes, the pun was intended) 

What motivated you to visit Iceland?

Most of my holidays revolve around adventure. Visiting cities is nice, but give me a mountain any day. While researching and planning a trip to Norway in 2008, I started looking into Iceland as a possible place to visit. I just thought that Iceland looked so cool, and I never even thought of Iceland before that.

It wasn't possible for us to go to Iceland that time, so we put it to one side and said to ourselves “one day, we have to come back and see Iceland and Greenland”. All of a sudden, Iceland started to become really popular on Instagram, but then we weren't so sure. Then, we saw cheap flights, and we were already in Europe: so we thought why not?    

How long was your stay? Did you travel solo or with a group?

I was there for 10 days, with my husband. We drove the entire way around the country on the ring road and loved how much the landscape changed in each region. We occasionally went off the ring road a lot too for detours.

Claire Ryan

What is one thing you will always remember about your tour?

I think the most memorable moment of the tour was stepping into the ice cave, it simply took my breath away: there are no words to describe how amazing it was. We never been ice climbing or glacier walking like that before or anything. There was an older couple on our tour, in their late 50s maybe, and they were scaling up the wall and she made it to the top.

What also really made this trip so memorable was our guide Mike. From the moment we met him at the office he was so friendly, he was regaling us with funny stories and really interesting facts not just about the glacier but about Iceland as well. He always made sure that we never felt rushed. He would say things like: “no rush guys don't even worry: its going to take as long as it takes and we are just going to make sure everyone has a really good time”. I am hoping to go on another glacier tour with him in New Zealand in February when he is down there for the summer. 

I have never been on a tour like that before, because normally things are a lot more rushed.

What tour did you choose and how did you choose it?

We did a lot of research before booking because we wanted to make sure we maximized our time on the glacier. I was chatting with Barði from Icelandic Mountain Guides through the website chat and he was so friendly and really helpful: they gave us all the info and schedules.

Based on what he told us, we booked the Glacier Walk and Ice Climbing Tour, we really wanted to do a tour that involved climbing and not just walking on the ice.

What is something that you learned about Iceland that surprised you?

I think the thing that surprised me most about Iceland was the fact that they eat Puffins. I think they are the cutest birds and when I saw them on the menu in a restaurant I was so shocked. We eat Kangaroos (in Australia) so I am not judging, I just had no idea. 

The other thing that surprised me was the lack of trees: I wasn’t expecting a lush rain-forest or anything but I thought there would be a few more trees, everything just looked so barren. Somebody was telling me that when the vikings came they cut them all down to make boats and they never really grew back.

Claire Ryan

If you had more time in Iceland, what else would you like to see and do?

If we had more time, we would have liked to explore the highlands more. As we were quite pressed for time, we didn’t get to explore them at all. We would have also liked to hike in the Westfjords. We were able to visit them for two days but only by car, I would like to do the week long hike in the middle of summer, in the Núpsstaðaskógar Nature Reserve specifically. I think that would be a great adventure. 

The best hike we did in Iceland was to the tallest waterfall, Glymur. It’s a 5km walk and it was all up hill. There were only two other people there and it was great to feel alone in the nature.

What tips do you have for people who want to visit Iceland?

Plan, plan, plan! Before you arrive in Iceland, it’s so important to plan out your itinerary.

I put together a really detailed spreadsheet of that every single thing was that I wanted to see and how long it would take to drive between them, otherwise we might have missed it. We only planned 7 days and it ended up taking us the full 10 days because we slowed down. We also had to stay longer for the weather, so we needed that extra time.

There is so much to see and do; if you don’t plan it properly, you are likely to miss some amazing places. Also, please make sure you have the right gear: a water/wind proof jacket is a must. Appropriate footwear is essential too: hiking boots are the best! I would suggest going in July and August for the best weather and the longest days.

Claire Ryan

Please make sure you have the right gear...hiking boots are the best!

What is your next dream destination?

Our next adventure starts in two days time, where we will be hiking around the Mont Blanc. This will be approximately 170km with 10km of ascent/descent, it passes through parts of Switzerland, Italy and France. 

We quit our jobs and did 4 months in Australia. Then 4 months in USA/Canada: we have been in Europe since July, and then we are going to South Africa before going back to North America to change our gear. Finally, we are going to South America to hike in Patagonia and then we are going to Antarctica.  After dreaming about it for 9 years we are finally doing it December this year! 

You can follow Claire's epic global adventures on her travel blog  Forever Chasing Wanderlust, on Facebook at Forever Chasing Wanderlust and on Instragram 

The towering icy landscape on our Glacier Walk and Ice Climbing tour is only one of the many features that make it an unforgettable experience. Book your tour and join us for an excursion that is guaranteed to make memories that last a lifetime.  

About the Author

Joseph content writer for Icelandic Mountain Guides

Joseph Mattos-Hall

Hailing from London and born into a British/Brazilian/Italian household, Joseph came to Iceland originally to complete a master’s degree in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Iceland: the rest is history.

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