An Amazing, Epic Day Dog Sledding in Iceland

As we bumped and bounced across the pitted dirt road that led out to the Langjökull glacier, the second largest ice cap in Iceland, I didn’t expect to find our dog sledding guides in shorts and t-shirts. Even though it was June, I still thought that we’d need to bundle up for dog sledding in Iceland. But the bright blue skies that greeted us at the camp, located a mile further in than it was just a week earlier, heralded a beautiful day.

We were booked on a three-hour adventure tour with Dog Sledding Iceland, a birthday treat for our daughter from her generous grandparents. Ever since Hannah first read about the Iditarod in Kindergarten, she has been obsessed with all things dog sledding. Since Nome, Alaska in March isn’t on our travel short-list, we thought dog sledding on a glacier in Iceland was a pretty great second best. 

Dog sledding on Langjokull glacier in Iceland

While we did rent a four-wheel drive car, we weren’t quite comfortable driving on the dirt F-roads, so we paid a little extra to have our guides pick us up at the Husafell camping site nearby. The summer dog sledding site on the glacier is about one and one-half to two-hours from Reykjavik, but since we were staying out in Geysir, we had to leave bright and early to get there in time for our 9 am pick up. The ride out to the glacier was so beautiful we didn’t even mind the early departure.

As we bumped into camp, we got to meet the guides, staff and dogs that make their home out on the ice for a few months of the year. It is hard to imagine a life comprised of scooping poop, caring for dogs, sleeping in a trailer, and living on the ice without electricity, Internet, or bathrooms — but I’m glad someone does it to give us this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Dog sledding in Iceland -- the most amazing day!

As soon as we arrived, we were introduced to all the dogs. Not just the ones that would be pulling the sleds, but all the ones in camp. We learned their names, their breed, and a bit about each dog’s history and temperament. Dog sledding Iceland uses a mix of breeds including Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Greenlandic, and Icelandic sled dogs. Some of the sled dogs were even famous! The Greenlandic dogs had appeared in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Most of the dogs were happy to get the attention and others were clamoring for more. For travelers that just want to get out on the glacier, this process may feel a bit long, but for dog lovers it was perfect — very well suited for families and kids.

After greeting the dogs, we were introduced to the life of a musher. We learned how to put on the booties that protect the pads of their feet from the ice. Next, we helped harness the dogs for the two teams going out that morning, and got them hooked up to the sleds. The smile on Hannah’s face as we went through this process was bright as the blue sky. Soon we were ready to head out. A guide from Denmark and our family of three on one sled, and a mother-daughter pair and their French-born musher on the other.

Dog sledding on Langjokull glacier in Iceland

If you are looking for fast-paced excitement, you might be a little disappointed by dog sledding in Iceland, as these dogs are generally slower than those used in races like the Iditarod. The dog’s pace, combined with the warm day softening the snow, maxed out our speed at around six to eight miles per hour. Plus the dogs had to slow down to mark their territory in every way imaginable for the first part of the ride — much to everyone’s amusement.

But we really didn’t mind the speed at all. It gave us more time to look around at the absolutely gorgeous scenery. The sky was a brilliant clear blue against the untouched white snow. In the distance we could see the black tops of the snow-covered volcanic mountains. I enjoyed just sitting back and drinking in the view — something that I will never forget.

Dog sledding in Iceland is a bucket list family travel experience

Before we arrived, I tried to prep Hannah for potential disappointment by warning her that she may not get a chance to ride on the back of the sled and help mush. So you can imagine how thrilled she was when we were ready to set out and they asked who wanted to go on the back. She was able to be the “co-musher” for the entire ride out to our halfway point.

Dog sledding in Iceland is a bucket list family travel experience

Once we reached the halfway point, we stopped to give the dogs a break and to stretch our legs. We made sure to give the dogs lots of belly rubs to thank them for their hard work, especially the ones we could tell were working the hardest (versus a couple of divas who weren’t totally pulling their weight.)

Dog sledding in Iceland is a bucket list family travel experience

On the way back, we switched positions and I was able to take the back as musher. Our guide still did all the work, I just had to lean whatever direction he told me or push off with one leg from time to time. Even still, I was surprised to find that balancing back there is a bit of a work out. We were already warm from the gorgeous day but I took off my down jacket and took the ride back in just my base layer long-sleeved shirt.

Dog sledding in Iceland is a bucket list family travel experience

Our day dog sledding in Iceland was an epic day that we will never forget. It ranks right up there with boating around Capri for one of our best travel days ever. It isn’t cheap but if you have dog lovers in your family and dog sledding is on your bucket list, Iceland is a great place to do it. In the summer you don’t need to contend with freezing temperatures and you will get to explore the most gorgeous scenery.

Dog sledding in Iceland

Plan this trip!

  • Dog sledding Iceland offers tours from mid-May to mid-August on the glacial snow; winter tours (from mid-August to mid-May) operate on dry land in a different location.
  • They offer one-hour and three-hour tours, as well as a one-hour midnight sun tour in the summer and an overnight tour in the winter.
  • Children must be eight years old to participate.
  • Wear waterproof shoes, a hat, sunglasses, gloves, and waterproof outerwear. (We were hot with a base layer, hiking pants, and down jackets.)
  • The three-hour tour is 35,900 ISK for adults and 17,950 for kids (check website for current prices.)
  • Use the bathroom at the cafe/gas station at the Husafell camping site. You can also have lunch at the cafe here after the tour.
  • If you are looking for other things to do in in Iceland, shop for day tours at my preferred partner, Iceland Travel.
  • Be sure to check out my Iceland travel tips and packing lists for summer.

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Dog sledding in Iceland -- the most amazing day!

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16 Comments on “An Amazing, Epic Day Dog Sledding in Iceland

  1. Wow that looks like a lot of fun! I’ve seen dogsledding (a race) when I was in Quebec City for their winter festival but never got the chance to ride one. Great post!

      Thanks Madi! Our first experience was the once around a track that we did at the Quebec City winter carnival but this was soooo much more. Don’t you just love the Winter Carnival?

    What a great opportunity for your daughter an how fantastic was it that she got to drive the sled! I don’t know why I never link Iceland with this opportunity, but I’m glad you highlighted it so I can add it to my bucket list!

      Thanks Jody, I recommend it if you are there in the summer and can be on the glacier.

    OH MY GOSH. Gorgeous – and so beautifully described, esp the divas! I want to go!

      Thank you! A few of those dogs really were divas just trotting along looking pretty while their partner pulled the weight.

    Such an incredible experience! I had the opportunity to mush a dogsled in Quebec’s Outaouais and it was far from a mellow experience as we zipped through a forest, dodging trees. I think I’d prefer this slower journey for my next dog sled adventure!

      It was also nice to do it when it was sunny and relatively warm!

    Wow, what an awesome experience – any one of my kids would flip for the chance to do this!

    This is something I have never done, but have always wanted to do! It looks so fun! I hope to do it in Alaska or Canada some day soon.

    Dogsledding looks like such a fun experience, I’m sad I’m missed this when I was in Iceland!

    That looks like so much fun – I live in a perfect winter location (BC Canada) where they offer dog sledding only 1 hour from my home. Maybe I’ll give it a go!

      I’m sure it is pretty to go there too!

    This looks insanely amazing!

    this is amazing! I’ve always wanted to try dog sledding, and this looks like the perfect place to do it. need to make it out to iceland one of these days.

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