Moonwalker, the family-owned and Reykjavik-based tour operator, offers intimate and memorable adventures across South West Iceland to uncover its natural secrets.
Online Editor, Simon Wittenberg, spoke to Bessi Jónsson on his recent “Golden Circle & Langjökull glacier” adventure.
LM: What inspired you to establish the Moonwalker business, and why did you choose this name?
BJ: I became tired of my office job and I wanted to do something fun. I come from a farm, and have been driving Land Rovers since I was 10 years old – these are like tractors at home! I have also worked and trained with Iceland’s Search and Rescue service, and so I know the country very well. Being outdoors makes me happy, and this is what inspired me to start Moonwalker five years ago.
I can’t take any credit for the name of the business as it was my girlfriend’s idea! If you look up a lot of the names of other tour companies in Iceland, many use words such as “activity” and “super”, and follow a standard format. I didn’t want to fall into this trap, so my girlfriend said: “throw your list away and call it Moonwalker”. It’s simple and people will remember it.
LM: We had to mention Cami, your beautiful 20-month-old Icelandic sheepdog. Does she come on every excursion, and does she have any favourite places?
BJ: Cami comes along for the trip whenever my passengers are OK with it. Some people have allergies, and some can be afraid of dogs, and therefore, in these particular cases, she stays at home. One of her favourite places is the Þórsmörk (Thorsmork) valley. She loves this area, which involves hiking in steep canyons and crossing glacier rivers on foot. She really takes care of the guests, and will cross the water first to find the safest route, before bringing them over.
LM: How many guests can you take on an excursion at a time?
BJ: My larger Land Rover “Moon 2”, takes a maximum of seven people, but I never know who I am picking up in the morning, so I usually say six to avoid it being a squash and uncomfortable. However, I have two Land Rover Defenders, “Moon 1” and “Moon 2”, and access to others, so the biggest group I have taken out so far at one time is 20 (using a convoy of four vehicles).
LM: Do you offer adventures all year round, and which are your most popular?
BJ: I do tours throughout the year, and adjust them according to the seasons. I can also change the adventures, depending on the weather and the preferences of those who are in the car. I use the hour and half or so when driving out of Reykjavik to get to know my passengers. At the end of the day, the itinerary is really just a guide, so I can tailor it according to what they want to do.
My best-selling summer tour is called “Landmannalaugar & Hekla Volcano”. There we go deep into the mountains and drive to over 1,000 metres above sea level, over lava fields and rivers, and end up swimming in a natural hot spring. In winter, it has to be “The Ultimate Circle” tour. That is basically the Golden Circle, and then you drive on a snowmobile on the Langjökull glacier and explore the natural ice caves. It’s a really busy day, but a lot of fun!