One of the activities that our kids most enjoyed on our trip to Iceland (and we did, too, to be fair!) was our buggy safari in the Blue Mountains with Safari Quads – the number #1 rated ATV and buggy operator in Iceland. It’s an opportunity to enjoy all the trails, thrills and amazing views of the Blue Mountains in an amazing 4×4 buggy, tackling gravel paths, rocky trails and steep slopes. I can heartily recommend it as a really engaging and fun way to explore some of the scenery around Reykjavik. Here’s what you can expect from the tour.
First off, you’ll need to get to the Safari Quads basecamp at Lambhagavegur 19, 113 Reykjavik at least 10 minutes before you are due to depart on your tour. If you just put ‘Safari Quads’ into Google Maps, it’ll find it for you and there’s plenty of parking once you get there. If you prefer, you can arrange to be picked up or dropped off at any of the bus stops in downtown Reykjavik.
There’s even a ‘blackboard wall’ where people of all nationalities have, for the sake of posterity, recorded their experiences of Safari Quads tours. Pretty much anyone can take part – all drivers must be 17+ years old and hold a full valid driver’s license in their home country. Passengers do not need a license (unless they want to take turns at driving) and must be a minimum of 6 years of age.
All you need to bring with you is suitable outdoor clothing (it’s recommended that you layer up, particularly on colder days) and sturdy footwear, and an advurous spirit and willingness to have fun! Safari Quads supply warm overalls, rain gear (if needed), balaclavas, helmets and gloves, and you are good to go! Well, almost…
You’ll be assigned a professionally trained Safari Quads guide who is knowledgeable about the area and who will lead you out of basecamp and on to the trails. We had Alex who was super-friendly, full of energy and great fun. He also had an excellent grasp of English and was re-assuring and easy to get along with. Before we set off, Alex explained how to operate the 4×4 buggies so that we were ready to hit the roads. The vehicles are fully automatic, straightforward to drive and have safety and design features such as seat belts and a roll cage.
As we set off, the first short stretch of our journey was on actual roads (these buggies are road legal)…
…but before long we were on gravel roads among lava fields on Reykjavik’s outskirts. This was great fun for our sons, not least because our eldest hadn’t long since passed his driving test back home.
The first part of the drive is very comfortable, consisting of wide tracks with loose gravel. It’s easy enough that you can afford to look around and admire the beautiful scenery of the Blue Mountains as you drive.
Alex took occasional stops so he could photograph us and the rest of the group. It was a small group of just 5 or 6 buggies so the tour had a personal feel about it.
We had to stay in single file and keep a safe distance from one another as the buggies pick up a surprising amount of speed, even on rough ground, which gave quite an adrenaline rush!
We admired the beautiful surroundings as we sped along, eventually passing Hellisheiði Power Station – the largest geothermal power plant in Iceland and in fact one of the biggest in the world – before reaching the hot springs of the Hveradalir geothermal area.
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The hot springs here are part of the hot springs area of Heillisheidi, which is one of many high temperature areas in the Hengill volcano zone.
Hengill is an active central volcano and its volcanic fissure system lies from Selvogur on the Reykjanes peninsula in the southwest and stretches over 50 to 60 km northeast of Pingvallavatn lake.
The stop was another opportunity for Alex to try out his photography skills as he asked us to punch the area and look like we were having fun (we honestly were!).
On our return to basecamp, we took a slightly different route, crossing the Suðurá stream close to Sandskeið airfield for a little bit of added excitement.
The buggies themselves have great power and traction and this means they perform really well over rough terrain. Even if you’ve never driven one of these buggies before, you’ll very quickly get the hang of it and I’m sure – like us – you’ll love the adventure!
The tour promises two full hours out on the buggy trails but in reality, I think we were gone for significantly longer, so set aside at least a full morning or afternoon just in case.
The Strava map below shows the route we took back from Hveradalir to Safari Quads’ base. (I had forgotten to track the exact route on the way out!)
Planning a trip to Iceland yourself? You can watch a video from our trip to Iceland here – footage from our time on the buggy safari can be seen between 1m 06s and and 1m 26s: