Meet Gummi, Absolute Iceland Tour
A pioneer of highland driving in Iceland, Gumundur ‘Gummi’ Gunnarsson has a tremendous amount of experience in travelling around his homeland and is the man for the job when it comes to exploring off the beaten track.
Gummi’s specially adapted, super cool 4WD vehicles are the ultimate way to explore this ruggedly spectacular island and he knows places to visit not generally found in the major guidebooks. Here he tells us a little more about his family, the tour and why 4WD’s are one of the best ways to explore magical Iceland…
Tell us about your family’s interesting history
My grandfather, Guðmundur Jónasson, was one of the first to introduce Iceland to the kind of vehicles that suit the often impossible terrain. During WWII, large weapon carriers with 4WD or 6WD made for transporting goods, not people, were brought to Iceland.
My grandfather bought a few of these and converted them into buses; he started taking clients camping around the country, as there were hardly any hotels at this time. Once, he even rescued an aeroplane from a glacier.
Did you start travelling with your grandfather?
I started going out with him when I was about 8 years old on a couple of trips every year, especially in the Highlands. My job at the time was to help with luggage and keep the bus clean. These trips taught me so much about my home country, gave me a taste for exploring and love of Iceland’s extreme nature around me. I have seen every corner of Iceland that is worth seeing!
What kind of trips do you operate?
Absolute Iceland gives a unique exploration of Iceland over 16 nights, allowing plenty of time to enjoy the route – we stop at all the best places and hidden gems. I know the exact times to visit so we can avoid the crowds.
I have two Mercedes Benz Sprinters which have been converted into ‘super trucks’ with 42” tyres and raised suspension. They are super-comfortable, luxury minibuses which can carry up to 17 people off the beaten track amongst unbelievable scenery, to places often inaccessible to normal vehicles. I have yet to be beaten by a steep incline! Most of the time I can go anywhere I want if the conditions are good; these vehicles can ford rivers and streams, negotiate rough terrain and climb in the snow.
What is your typical day?
I talk to our guests over dinner the previous evening and also breakfast before we set off – I explain what the day holds in store and find out if there are any special requests which I will the try and incorporate. I speak on the microphone more during the mornings than the afternoon when people tend to enjoy a little peace a quiet and I tend to leave them more to their own thoughts and simply provide essential information about the route we are taking. People are always free to ask questions at any time, it is all very informal really.
What is your favourite area of Iceland?
The Highlands are my favourite area of Iceland. They cover a lot of the country and are home to some of Iceland’s most beautiful natural beauty. One particularly special place is the incredible Askja area in the northern Highlands… I love to get away from all the crowds and with the peace and quiet, you can really feel the power of the Earth.
What do you need to get the most out of Absolute Iceland?
The great thing about this trip is that anyone can join! All you need a sense of adventure, enjoy travelling and meeting fellow travellers and getting to know interesting locals. I have people aged from 20 to 80 plus, they always fit in because the trip is leisurely, and there is usually enough time to cater for special requests. Younger people will want to do more challenging things and they have the chance to do that. Its nearly always possible to keep everyone happy!
Anything else you want to say?
I’ve been taking people around Iceland for most of my working life, and ‘Absolute Iceland’ is one of the best trips I have ever guided. It’s like travelling around as one big happy family and its great fun and people really get a true insight into the landscape and people of my country.
You can join Gummi and explore Iceland in style on our flagship 16-day small group holiday, Absolute Iceland.