• Einar Páll Svavarsson

Inside an ice cave close to Jökulsárlón


A magical feeling inside a ice cave
A magical feeling inside a ice cave

I started my four and a half hour drive early as the weather forecast was great. I was on my way to visit Ice Caves for my information web page Hit Iceland. Although I had traveled to most places in Iceland in the last two years, I had not visited an Ice Cave. I anticipated a magnificent mountain and glacier view along the way and wanted to have time to photograph before reaching my destination. I was on my way to Jökulsárlón where I was to meet Little Siggi, an ice cave tour operator at South East Tours. Fortunately, I had about two hours to spare for photography. The drive is part of the Ring Road in Iceland from Reykjavík where I live to the famous iceberg lagoon Jökulsárlón. The place where Little Siggi has his meeting point. The weather was great, and I consistently found myself stopping the car and running out with the camera.


Little Siggi the tour operator knows his way around the area

Siggi Litli preparing for security matters in the ice cave
Siggi Litli preparing for security matters in the ice cave

Arriving at Jökulsárlón, I was greeted by (Siggi Litli) Little Siggi who is not so little despite the nickname. Sounds like a name that he got stuck with him when growing up in the small town Höfn, not far from Jökulsárlón. Little Siggi is a local operator who knows the terrain, the glacier, the ice caves and the whole area like the palm of his hand. A man who goes out of his way to avoid driving over elves as he knows where they live.


The Black Dimond cave with a hole in the bottom


Inside the Black Diamond ice cave
Inside the Black Diamond ice cave

The first cave was Black Dimond a rather small and dark ice cave. The reason for the dark color is the ash from a major eruption in the glacier Öræfajökull ages ago. Ash stuck in the ice but clearly visible through the transparent layer of clean ice in front of it. Although small the cave has a narrow path that I crawled to see the hole at the end.


Crystal Cave in Vatnajökull Glacier

The stunning ice and blue colour inside the ice cave
The stunning ice and blue colour inside the ice cave

The second ice-cave, Crystal Cave, is much bigger and quite popular among our visitors. It is a breathtaking sight to walk the large cave with its blue color above you and the transparent layer of ice. You can't help thinking if there is something stuck in the ice from another century. Possibly an old Viking that got lost centuries ago and the glacier has protected. It is simply a very unusual place to visit and a very rare sight.


How cool is a selfie inside the spectacular formation of a blue ice cave?

Ice cave photography
Ice cave photography

To enter an ice cave placed under and at the end of a glacier tongue is a unique experience. The caves are natural wonder created by mother nature during summer and accessible during winter. In the spring when temperature rises and glaciers are exposed to the sun, ice melts and water filled with mud and rocks finds its way under the glacier crawling to the edge of the glacier tongue. In the process, the rivers under the glaciers polish the ice and create caves. When winter returns, the melting and floods come to an end, and the caves become accessible, and you can enter this dreamlike world of blue ice caves.


Accessible during November until March

The entrace to the ice cave
The entrace to the ice cave

One of the most popular and most accessible places to explore an ice cave is Breiðamerkurjökull glacier tongue at the edge of the large ice cap Vatnajökull in southeast Iceland. Although the caves are accessible from the Ring Road, the dirt road to the caves are quite challenging and at some points dangerous. It is a deceiving place as some of the harsh dirt roads are actually placed on ice with possible crevasses under the road. So driving on the roads requires some local knowledge. The roads are also hard to drive and more or less only fit for large modified 4X4 vehicles. And anyhow you should only enter an ice cave with a guide and equipped with the appropriate gear.


Placed near the Jökulsárlón lagoon


Standing inside the ice cave is a fascinating experience
Standing inside the ice cave is a fascinating experience

Visiting an ice cave is one of the exciting things you can do in Iceland during winter. Although this season is the most interesting for tourists, there are many things you can do and experience. Jökulsárlón iceberg lagoon is one of the natural wonders you can visit and enjoy all year round. Most of the companies and guides offering ice cave tours operate from the Jökulsárlón center. Our tour was with one of the most experienced companies, South East, and its owner Siggi litli (Little Siggi).

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