Vatnajökull Region is a great place to visit one of Iceland’s natural wonders; the ice caves. The ice caves form during the winter months in the outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull, one of the biggest glaciers in Europe by volume. In the fall, professional local guides go scouting for the ice caves for the coming winter season.
How are they formed?
In some countries, you have almost the same ice caves year after year as the temperature there is constant. However, Icelandic caves are different. Each winter the weather cools and conditions change. Guides start looking for new caves, large and safe enough to explore on the inside.
Most of the ice caves are formed as canals for water that run through or at the bottom of the glacier. The water digs its way from underneath the glacier and forms the caves. Usually, they are formed in the summer when the flow of meltwater is at its peak. Then they are full of water and not accessible. When the shedding stops during fall, the flow of water in the cave greatly reduces and usually stops completely throughout the winter. The temperature becomes cold enough to strengthen the ice. As a result, what you have left is an ice cave.
During the winter there sometimes are warmer periods with strong wind and rain. Then the caves are flooded with water and become dangerous and impassable.
You always go with a certified guide!
The ice caves are only accessible during winter months, from November and usually throughout March, depending on the weather. The beautiful ice caves are very dangerous if you are not accompanied by a trained guide that knows the glacier from inside out, you should not go there by yourself. The caves should never be entered without a glacier guide and proper safety gear. Before going into the ice cave with a tour operator, you are provided with a safety helmet and crampons for walking on the ice.
About the tour
The trip is an incredible experience. The best options are to book a tour with an experienced local guide. Exploring an ice cave is a unique experience. This does mean it is very popular with tourists visiting Iceland in winter. We would recommend booking your tour in advance, to ensure you can book the time that suits you best.
The most known cave in South East of Iceland is the Crystal Cave, which is very popular among the tour companies in the area. Therefore, the cave can be a bit crowded, but still, it’s a wonderful experience to be inside and enjoy this spectacular wonder of nature. The ice cave that has been the most popular in recent years is called Crystal ice cave, because of the clearness of the ice.
The beauty of the cave is breathtaking, fascinating ice formation, and color. It’s a photogenic brilliant jewel. I will just let the pictures say what words can’t describe