Exploring an Ice Cave by Guided Tour

While researching on things to do on a winter trip to Iceland, it became apparent to me that two of the most recommended were the chasing the northern lights (which I did on the first night), and an ice cave tour. Ice cave tours are only available during the coldest months between November and March, and I thought I had the best timing of visiting in the darkest days of them.

Of course, I was wrong, for the week of early January 2019 which was spent there averaged between 10°C and 17°C. Not the coldest, but thankfully the ice caves were still in tact, just a little wet.

For the tour, I went with Arctic Adventure. The tour visits a cave in the glacier of Katla, one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Iceland but the most accessible from Reykjavik. For a short visit, it’s certainly not the cheapest. But keeping in mind that I had no clue where to find an ice cave by myself and the possible danger of being in one, I chose to splurge on this once-in-a-blue-moon experience of being in ice.

The tour departs from either Reykjavik, where I started from, or Vik, a popular tourist village close to the Katla ice cave. Hence, our first stop was Vik, where I got to grab lunch and stretch my legs from the hours-long journey from the capital. Vik is known for the black sand beach, which I took a short walk on before heading to the super jeep that was to take us to the glacier. The weather wasn’t the best compared to the day I took the Golden Circle tour, but I think it would be pretty here on a good day.

One of the reasons a tour is essential is safety. Entering an ice cave literally means ice everywhere, and that’s why we were provided with crampons to strap to our feet before entering. For me, I still found it difficult to walk from fear of falling, but that could be just me because these crampons should be solid enough. Just don’t run anyway!

The cave itself wasn’t actually that big. It took a whole less than 1 minute to reach the ‘end’ where the cavity became too small to continue further. As this was a glacier cave, the ice wasn’t actually blue to the naked eye, but black and white.

These might sound underwhelming, but if you’re a photographer, you may find the reflective blue and the unique structure of the ice made most angles a wonder in pictures. Honestly, we have to remember that it’s an ice cave — a phenomenon we don’t get to see just anywhere. Not to mention, coupled with Iceland’s beautiful glacier landscape, it makes the tour even more unique than seeing one anywhere else.

Ice caves change its structure every year, but is it worth going a second time? I probably won’t, but there are plenty of other ice caves to see besides Katla. The Crystal Ice Cave that’s also popular but farther from Reykjavik is one that I look to seeing the next time I return to Iceland. Otherwise, I certainly recommend this tour if you have the money to spare!

*All photos featured in this story are taken by the author.

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