Iceland's Crystal Ice Caves
One of our top reasons for visiting Iceland in winter was to see the crystal ice caves in Vatnajökull - the largest glacier in Europe. There is a short season for seeing the ice caves, which is from November to March. Outside of this window, it may not be safe as the ice caves could collapse. As with the glacier hike and ice climbing tour in our previous post, it is not safe to explore glaciers on your own.
We booked our tour with Arctic Adventures. We were picked up at the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon with a group of 12 of us in total in a comfortable van. After a short ride, we were transferred to a large arctic ready vehicle with massive wheels. We're talking about wheels almost taller than me (Jessie). The massive wheels foreshadowed our exciting ride to the ice caves across some rough terrain with the awesome suspension. I wouldn't have attempted the same path with our rental 4x4, that's for sure!
As we arrived next to the glacier, the ice cave didn't look like much at first; it literally looked like a hole in the wall. The saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" was never more true. Once we entered the cave, we were in awe of how beautiful the ice looked with different turquoise shades.
We were given a quick tour and some knowledge on how the glacial caves are carved out and why glacial ice has this outer worldly turquoise blue color that you won't find in your ice cube tray. We were taken down into the end of the cave which had a little pond of glacial melt water. As we went deeper the cave walls became more snow covered taking away the blue hue of light illumination the cave.
We would recommend rain boots if you have them handy. There were puddles throughout the cave with small glacial streams of water running down the icy walls. If you do not rain boots though, it is not a big problem. Just watch your steps to avoid any puddles. We also brought our own head lamps. Some parts of the cave were very dark. Bring a tripod!
These caves change all the time and usually last only for the season if it even last that long. The tour company decides on which cave to tour based on the weather conditions & safety. Glacial gear was provided as part of the tour including helmet & chain cleat crampons.
Although our tour was 2-3 hours long it felt short! We loved it & would recommend this unique experience. Some tours offered also include a glacier hike as well.