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Why Seeing Iceland By Helicopter Should Be On Your Bucket List

  • Post last modified:January 26, 2021
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Not only is Iceland itself a bucket list worthy destination, seeing Iceland by helicopter is like no other experience. With views like nowhere else in the world.

Though always picturesque, from the ground, Iceland is a cold, harsh environment with jagged lava fields, mountainous glaciers, and thunderous waterfalls. From the air, however, the harsh lines soften, and the contrasting colors bleed together. The landscape appears almost otherworldly.

We were lucky enough to spend a few weeks in Iceland for my milestone birthday. Since we had such a phenomenal time sailing the Galapagos for Jeremy’s big birthday, I wanted something just as spectacular for mine.

Ever since flying a helicopter over the English Cotswolds, I’ve dreamed of getting in a helicopter again. When I stumbled across Nordurflug Helicopter Tours during my Iceland trip research, I immediately knew this was what I wanted to do (even if it wouldn’t be me flying this time).

Iceland By Helicopter Pinterest Image

After looking into the tours available, the Fire and Ice Helicopter Tour sounded amazing. A roughly two-hour tour, with two 15 minute landings. One on a glacier, the other at a remote geothermal area on an old volcano.

By far it wasn’t cheap, but with a bit of sacrifice, we managed to fit it in our travel budget.

Since the tour required a minimum of three passengers, we had to email Nordurflug directly instead of booking on the website. Luckily, it wasn’t a problem for them to pair us up with other passengers on the day.

Taking Off From Reykjavík

Originally scheduled for my actual birthday, the flight was delayed a day due to strong winds. With Iceland’s unpredictable weather, we figured this could happen, so we planned a few days flexibility into our schedule.

As we arrived at the office, we met our pilot and the other couple we would be flying with. Walking out to the runway, the bright red AS 350 B2 Ecureuil helicopter shimmered in the morning light. How exciting!

When asked who wanted to sit up front first, I quickly raised my hand (it was my birthday celebration after all). This turned out to be a great decision, as it felt like the longest stretch of the flight, with the best views.

With room for four, Jeremy and the other couple climbed into the back seat of the helicopter, and we were off.

As we rose over Reykjavík, the city looked more like a tiny model than a capital city.

View over Reykjavic, Iceland by helicopter

On The Way To Þórisjökull Glacier

After flying over a few small islands in the bay, we followed the Botnsá river through the valley towards Mt. Hvalfell.  As we neared the dome shaped mountain, the glimmering Glymur waterfall came into view.

Iceland’s second highest waterfall, at 650 feet, was stunning. Known for its treacherous and steep two-to-three-hour hike, not to mention the frigid river crossing at the top, we were thrilled to get an easier view of this long slender beauty.  

Glymur waterfall closeup, by air, Icelands second highest waterfall, Helicopter Tour of Iceland

Beyond the Glymur, the mountainous green landscape turned into an expansive brown desert. In the distance, the enormous Langjokull Glacier dwarfed Þórisjökull Glacier, our first stop on the Iceland by helicopter tour.

Kaldidalur Hochlandstraße, 4WD highway F550 through desert looking landscape, Helicopter Tour of Iceland

Visiting Iceland's Þórisjökull Glacier By Helicopter

Before landing on Þórisjökull Glacier, our pilot dazzled us with flyovers of the glaciers enormous ice crevices. Though a challenge to get any steady shots, it was by far my favorite part of the helicopter tour. Just wow!  

Þórisjökull glacier from the air, Helicopter Tour of Iceland
close up Þórisjökull Glacier, Iceland by helicopter

Stepping out on to the enormous sheet of ice, we noted the contrast from the views in the air. No visible cracks, just a flat, white, sparkling surface. However, for concern of crevices hidden below the packed snow, we were advised not stray far from the helicopter for our 15-minute stop.

flat icy surface Þórisjökull glacier, Helicopter Tour of Iceland

Helicopter Flyover Of Iceland’s Continental Divide

Though we sat in the back for the second segment of our Iceland by helicopter tour, we still had an amazing view.

Along the northern shore of Iceland’s largest natural lake, Þingvallavatn, the earth looked broken. Split apart by the continental drift of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. It was unbelievably surreal.

We were also fortunate enough to see the phenomenon from a few different spots on the ground; however, it’s only fully visible and truly appreciated from above.  

continental divide of the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates seen from the air, Helicopter Tour of Iceland
continental divide of the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates, of water and land, seen from the air, Helicopter Tour of Iceland

Second Stop, Hengill Geothermal Area

With steam rising all around us, it felt like we were landing in the pits of hell. Before descending from the helicopter, our pilot gave us a quick warning. “Don’t touch the water and careful where you step”.

It didn’t take long to understand his concern. Bubbling mud pits, boiling springs, and steaming hot spots surrounded us at the Hengill geothermal area.

Taking one of the hiking trails, we had plenty of time to explore the area and investigate the curious and colorful landscape.  

Hengill geothermal area, Helicopter Tour of Iceland
Bubbling steam spring at Hengill geothermal area, Helicopter Tour of Iceland

Back To Reykjavík

With a final swap of seats, Jeremy took the co-pilots chair for the short ride back to Reykjavík.

Gliding over the moon like landscape of ancient lava fields, we were like children playing eye-spy with the unique patterns and shapes only seen from the air. We pointed out volcanoes and dried lava beds.  A view like no other.

Sadly, it was time to head back. Though we were all super charged to get out and explore Iceland.

volcanos Hengill geothermal area, Helicopter Tour of Iceland
Hengill geothermal area from the air, Helicopter Tour of Iceland

Planning Your Own Iceland By Helicopter Tour

So, did we convince you to put seeing Iceland by helicopter on your bucket list?

If you’re interested in taking your own helicopter tour of Iceland, we booked directly with Nordurflug Helicopter Tours. We had an amazing time on their 2-hour Fire and Ice tour, but they have lots of other tours to choose from. All the details are on their website.

They also do private photography tours. Sadly, that’s quite far out of our budget, but a girl can dream.

This post is not sponsored, nor do we have any affiliation with Nordurflug Helicopter Tours, we just enjoyed our experience.

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