Þórsmärk Valley, also known as Thorsmark, is a wide valley in South Iceland named after Thor, the Viking God of Thunder. Plenty has thundered in this valley, which is framed on three sides by glaciers ( Eyjafjallajökull, Mýrdalsjökull and Tindfjallajökull) and has seen its share of volcanic eruptions. If you want to get off the beaten path of the Ring Road and see some of Iceland’s untouched interior, an Iceland super jeep tour into Thorsmark is the way to go.
You can’t access this area by standard rental car. You could hike in, but the more fun way to go is by 4×4 super jeep. There are a number of super jeep tours in Iceland that will bring you out onto glaciers, around the Golden Circle, or onto black sand beaches. I liked our Thorsmark super jeep tour with Southcoast Adventure during our visit this winter. To reach this secluded valley our super jeep bounced along the inland road and forded many a glacial river and stream giving us plenty of excitement while keeping us warm and dry.
Iceland Super Jeep Tour into Thorsmark
Our day started at dawn, which really isn’t too bad when the sun doesn’t rise until 10 am (a typical tour lasts about five hours). We were picked up at our lodging at Hotel Ranga, although a group tour would typically meet at their base near the Sejlandfoss waterfall, right off the Ring Road. Since I was part of a FAM trip of travel writers and agents, we had an extended tour that started off on a black sand beach at sunrise, which was simply sensational.
After a quick pitstop at Sejlandfoss, we headed into the valley, soon leaving the paved road behind. How our drivers knew where to go across ice and snow, I have no idea. But clearly they knew their way and the best places to cross the rivers that zig zagged across our path. Riding in a super jeep is pretty amazing. Unlike driving on the beach in a standard truck, where you need to get out of the car and inflate or deflate the tires, in a super jeep you can control a compressor from inside as the truck is moving. Pretty neat stuff!
We stopped for a photo opportunity along the way in the midst of giant glacier boulders. Here we learned more about the ecology of the area. Our guides proved their Viking heritage bravely without hat or gloves, but for the rest of us, be sure to check out my Iceland packing lists for winter and summer.
Next, we continued on to our halfway point, where we hiked further on to the Volcano Hut in Thorsmark for a hearty and warming lunch. Our lunch had been arranged by Hotel Ranga, but typically Southcoast Adventure would include a light lunch. It was nice to relax after our 45 minute to one hour hike through the snow. We had the adventurous option of climbing up high for gorgeous valley views, but since we heard the way down was steep and slippery and my snow boots weren’t cut out for real hiking, we took the easy way around. Even the easy route is intended for those that are physically fit, especially in the winter as you are traipsing over snow. But our guides made sure to stop along the way to share some local legends and explain the ecology while everyone had a chance to catch up.
One of the highlights of the day was spying one of the arctic foxes that lives in this area. They leave food out for it, so it often makes an appearance. I had a blast watching it hanging around and then bolting for the meat that was enticing it closer.
We headed back as the sun started to dip behind the mountains, stopping at the Gígjökull outlet glacier where you can see the effects of the 2010 eruption from Eyjafjallajökull.
After a couple more thrilling river crossings, one that had me wishing for a sunroof escape hatch, we were back on smooth road and headed back to Hotel Ranga and a soak in their outdoor hot tub before a delicious dinner.
I’d highly recommend a super jeep tour in Iceland, and thought a video might be the easiest way to share our adventure!
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Note: Our tour was hosted by Hotel Ranga and Southcoast Adventure. All opinions are my own.