Your Guide to the Icelandic Mountain Guides' Adventure Ground

travel guide , adventure ground
Two women posing at the DC-3 plane wreck during an ATV tour on Sólheimasandur
Björgvin Hilmarsson

There are countless reasons to plan a trip to Iceland. Reykjavík’s creative culture is inspiring. The wide open spaces are serene. The shores where towering mountains plunge into the North Atlantic are breath-taking. Mix in the glaciers, waterfalls, geothermal activity and hiking trails and you’ve got a recipe for adventure.

While there’s action to be found all around the country, you’ll be hard pressed to find a single area as saturated with breath-taking natural beauty and opportunity for once-in-a-lifetime experiences as the Adventure Ground. So secure your crampons and buckle your helmet, it’s time for an adventure.

People posing for picture on Sólheimajökull glacier whilst on a glacier walk
Björgvin Hilmarsson

Introducing: The Adventure Ground

“So what and where is this Adventure Ground?” you’re probably wondering right about now. Iceland’s Ring Road, Golden Circle, Laugavegur Trail and even the Diamond Circle have become well known (and well trod), but the Adventure Ground? You probably haven’t heard of it.

Luckily, you’ve now been formally introduced, because it’s a swath of terrain in South Iceland marked by outlet glaciers, black sands, glacial lagoons and hiking trails that you’ll want to explore every square metre of when you’re in Iceland. It’s also the ideal spot for … well, adventure!

Why visit the Adventure Ground

As its name should make abundantly clear, you go to the Adventure Ground for adventure. With Icelandic Mountain Guides’ Sólheimajökull and Myrdalsjökull base camps on the grounds, it’s the place to venture out on a glacier walk, try you hand at ice climbing, embark on a snowmobile, or go for a hike through some of the most stunning landscapes Iceland has to offer (bonus points: these trails are some real hidden gems, so you’ll be enjoying the view of nature rather than packs of other tour groups).

The TL;DR is that you should visit the Adventure Ground for:

  • Hiking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Glacier Walks
  • Ice Climbing
  • Glacier Lagoon Kayaking
  • ATV Riding
  • Adventure!

What to see at the Adventure Ground

Now that you know, in broad strokes, what you can do during a visit to the Adventure Ground, we’d like to share some of our favourite sites in the area.

Snow scooter riders going higher up on the glacier with a ocean view in the background

Mýrdalsjökull Glacier

Covering the Netflix-famous (and real-life infamous) Katla volcano, the Mýrdalsjökull ice cap is a frosty white landmark of Iceland’s south coast and one of the crowning jewels of the Adventure Ground. It also happens to be one of Icelandic Mountain Guides’ base camps. At 600 km2, Mýrdalsjökull is the fourth largest glacier in Iceland and the historic source of some gnarly jökulhlaup, or glacial floods. In fact, Icelanders historically didn’t care to cross the plains south of the glacier before the Ring Road was built because the flooding was too unpredictable and dangerous. Today, it’s an amazing location for a snowmobile safari, or stunning backdrop for a day hike over Fimmvörðuháls.

Sólheimajökull Glacier

You can think of Sólheimajökull like Mýrdalsjökull’s fun little sidekick. Sólheimajökull is actually an outlet glacier of the much larger Mýrdalsjökull, and is an ideal place for adventure thanks to its relative accessibility from the Ring Road. Explore the layers of azure blue ice and black volcanic ash comprising the glacier on an informative glacier walk, or appreciate Sólheimajökull from a different vantage point by paddling a kayak through its lagoon.

People exploring the ice sculptures


Located between Mýrdalsjökull and Iceland’s southern coast is this stunning expanse of black sand and gravel. The glacial outwash plain has been formed by flood waters rushing across the landscape toward the sea, depositing sediment along the way and wiping out everything else in its path. It’s hauntingly beautiful, a desolate expanse of black earth providing stark contrast to the glacial caps and verdant hills you’ll see in the distance on a clear day. It’s also an epic terrain for going full throttle on an ATV. You know what they say, take only photographs and leave only the echoes of your adrenaline-fuelled screams (or something like that).

DC-3 Plane Wreck

Anyone with an Instagram account will have seen shots of the hull of a U.S. Navy Douglas C-117D, wings long gone, standing like an oasis in the otherwise empty expanse of Sólheimasandur. It’s an epic sight to see. And knowing that the events leading to the plane securing its final resting place in Iceland weren’t deadly makes it fun to see, rather than macabre. Back in 1973, the aircraft had been delivering supplies to a radar station in Stokksnes and was en route back to the U.S. base in Keflavík when it encountered icing and the seven-person crew had to make an emergency landing. All’s well that ends well, though, as the crew was picked up by a helicopter and the plane has since been enjoyed by countless visitors to the black desert.

The DC3 plane wreck seen from above
Fantastic view over Eyjafjallajökull glacier and volcano

Eyjafjallajökull Glacier

You remember that 2010 eruption that spewed a whole lot of ash into the atmosphere and brought air travel to a halt for a few weeks? Yeah, that was the oh-so-fun to say Eyjafjallajökull. When it’s not erupting, it’s a stunning ice cap covering a volcanic caldera. Learn how to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull during your hike on the Glacier Panorama Trail to really impress your friends and family back home.

The great thing is that Icelandic Mountain Guides’ base camps — at Sólheimajökull Glacier and Mýrdalsjökull Glacier — are the starting points for no fewer than ten activities in the Adventure Ground, so you can mix and match tours and enjoy a full day (or two or three) of adventure.

The guide assisting a girl crossing a small crack in the ice
Björgvin Hilmarsson

Best tours to experience the Adventure Ground

Now that you know some of the things you’ve got to see in the Adventure Ground, you’re probably wondering the best ways to go about actually seeing and experiencing it all for yourself. Did we mention Icelandic Mountain Guides’ two base camps in the area? Well, those will serve as your launch pads for unforgettable experiences in the Adventure Ground. Here are some of our favourites:

Snowmobile Adventure

If you think you wouldn’t enjoy riding a snowmobile, it’s only because you’ve never been on one before. It is absolutely thrilling to zoom over the surface of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, seeing the blinding expanse of white snow and ice and the south coast of Iceland dwarfed in the distance from your vantage point 1,493 m above sea level.

It’s another world atop the glacier, and the Snowmobile Adventure tour is the ideal way to experience it. As an added bonus, the tour starts with a ride in a glacier truck, a modified vehicle that can handle driving over the mountainous and glacial terrain. It’ll provide the perfect little adrenaline boost to get you ready to suit up and ride the glacier.

Glacier Discovery

Those wanting to get up close and personal with the multi-hued ice of Sólheimajökull and learn a thing or two about the glacier and its evolution will do well to embark on a Glacier Discovery tour. On an easy walk atop the glacier, you’ll learn about Sólheimajökull and explore its crevasses, water cauldrons and other fascinating features under the guidance of a knowledgeable glacier expert. What’s more, you get to do it all in crampons, which are sure to make you feel like a pro mountaineer.

If you’re travelling in Iceland without a car, you can still go walk on a glacier! Just book the Take a Walk on the Ice Side tour instead and you’ll ride our Adventure Bus from convenient pick-up locations throughout Reykjavík to the glacier.

ATV Black Beach Safari and the Plane Wreck

Much like when it comes to snowmobiling, the only people who think they won’t like riding an ATV are people who haven’t tried it before. Trust us, the moment you hit the gas, you’ll be a convert.

And we can’t think of a better place in not just Iceland, but the entire world, to let loose on a quad bike. As its name implies, the ATV Black Beach Safari and the Plane Wreck tour takes adventure-seekers on a thrill ride across Iceland’s famous black beaches, with a stop at the iconic DC-3 plane wreck in Sólheimasandur. But wait, there’s more! You’ll also be treated to views of Mýrdalsjökull glacier and the striking Dyrhólaey promontory that marks the southernmost point of mainland Iceland.

Kayaking by the Glacier

Though Iceland is surrounding by water and so much of its landscape is formed by hot and cold H2O, so many activities for visitors to the country are strictly land based. Sure, the glaciers, black sands and hiking trails of the Adventure Ground are exciting and stunning from land, but a whole other world is opened up to those viewing the area from the water.

The Kayaking by the Glacier tour allows you to — you guessed it — kayak by a glacier. More specifically, an expert guide will take you out on sit-on-top kayaks to explore the Sólheimajökull glacier lagoon, gently paddling among ice bergs and exploring the ice up close.

Glacier Panorama Trail

Stretch your legs on a hike alongside and atop the stunning Sólheimajökull glacier to appreciate the true beauty of the Adventure Ground. This mostly downhill hike along the glacier Panorama Trail provides sweeping views of Mýrdalsjökull and Sólheimajökull, plus the black expanse of desert to the south, with the North Atlantic beyond.

More than learning about glaciers, this hike introduces you to the other geological wonders that have formed Iceland over thousands of years. This hiking trail is a real hidden gem, so you’re all but guaranteed to be alone with your tour group and expert guide … and perhaps a few curious sheep.

The Adventure Bus

How to get to the Adventure Ground?

Whether you’re hitting the open road while in Iceland or making your home base in Reykjavík and venturing out on day trips, you can take advantage of all the Adventure Ground has to offer. If you’re driving yourself, simply roll up to Sólheimajökull or Mýrdalsjökull base camp ahead of the start time of your booked tour.

The Adventure Ground base camps are just about 165 km east of Reykjavík. You know you’re getting close (just 6km to go) when you pass Skógafoss waterfall. If you’re coming in from the east, you’ll find our base camps 24 km west of Vík.

Need more detailed directions? Here you go!

No car? No problem! Just hop on Icelandic Mountain Guides’ Adventure Bus at the BSÍ bus station or another designated pick-up spot in Reykjavík and we’ll drive you to where the action is happening.

It’s just that easy!

Why book with Icelandic Mountain Guides?

We’re not ones to toot our own horn, but when it comes to choosing your tour provider in Iceland, we’re the smart choice.

Of course, we’re a certified tour operator in Iceland and Greenland, but we hold ourselves to even higher standards. Each and every one of our guides truly lives and breathes Icelandic nature. It is their element and they’ve undergone extensive safety training to ensure that they can show our guests what it is they love so much about Iceland’s sometimes extreme nature safely and responsibly.

Icelandic Mountain Guides has been operating for more than 25 years and, in that time, we’ve learned a thing or two about creating the best, most memorable experience on a glacier, up a mountain or out on the trail.

So where can we take you? Book your adventure now.

About the Author

Catharine Fulton

Catharine Fulton

Catharine is a professional writer and editor living in Reykjavík. She's a cautionary tale of the dangers of travelling to Iceland, having been seduced by the country's culture, nature and tall, bearded men (or man, singular) while trying her damndest to get home to Canada. That was more than a decade ago; she's done for.

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