Journey From Westport – Franz Joesf is 273km from Westport. We left Westport at 9am and did not get to Franz Joesf till early evening. We made a few brief stops on route but for the most part this day was spent sleeping, talking and eating on the bus.
Accommodation – Most people in the group stayed at Rainforest Retreat Franz Joesf Hotel. For $26 you got a six bed room and use of the jacuzzis. The hostel has a bar and puts on an unlimited buffet every other night.
Ice Explorer (Paid)
Franz Joesf is a small town with a big reputation and once you are confronted with the glacier you quickly understand why. There are some free hikes you can do in the area but the frank reality is that unless you are willing to pay $320 for Ice Explorer, or even more for the ice climbing, then you are going to miss out on the beauty of the place.
The night before the weather forecast was looking miserable. It was looking like grey clouds were going to be keeping the helicopters firmly on the ground. The next morning though after a bit of hesitation and delay the centre decided it was safe to fly. Although quick, the helicopter ride was very memorable.
Between the snow – bathing, macho pickaxe poses and crawling through the ice cave, the walk was good fun. Do not fret about getting too cold, half our group had the other problem.
If you booked through Stray it costs $320. I had previously booked the activity with Peter Pans who had got me the same price. In bad weather conditions Peter Pans would only give a 90% refund whereas with Stray you pay on the day. Included in the price is the coats, shoes, socks, crampons (metal spikes for the shoes) and the bright red hat which you get to keep.