Visiting an ice cave!
While we were planning our trip to Iceland, we found out it was possible to visit ice caves. 'We are so doing this,' we said after a few instagram scrolls through #icecave.
We immediately agreed on booking with Local Guide (their website has dazzling pictures), but it took us days to decide which tour to sign up for. It's so hard to know exactly what you'll get for your money. In the end, reason got the upper hand and we booked the normal tour (which was expensive enough).
About 2 days in advance, we received an e-mail from Local Guide telling us the ice had been melting, due to the abnormal amount of sun the past days. (Ow yeah, we had wonderful weather in Iceland). The risk of the cave collapsing on our heads was too high, so they gave us a choice: an entire refund or an upgrade to the adventurous tour, without extra payment...
We were thrilled! 'Count us in,' we replied instantly.
We arrived at the Local Guide headquarters (the departure point) thinking we would form a group of about 12 people. Lucky for us, half of our group were 'professional' photographers who had booked the wrong tour (very professional indeed) and canceled upon arrival. We were now but 6 still eager to go... Perfect! The less people walking in our frame, the better. This was really turning out great for us!
Twenty minutes later we got into a van on monster tyres and another thirty minutes later, this super jeep dropped us off on location.
Our guide Snorry (no idea of the correct spelling) told us they used to visit ice caves right there where we were now parked. This was only a few years ago. Did he worry about global warming? Not at all. According to him, the first Icelandic Vikings had described the country as a paradise full of forests and grasslands. The ice age made it all disappear. His theory is that the glaciers are melting so that trees can grow again.
We were about to head off when a second group arrived. Their guide came over and started talking to Bernd in Icelandic. When he realised we didn't understand a word of what he was saying he quickly apologized, saying Bernd looked so professional, it made him think he was one of the tour guides. (add it to your list of possible career changes!)
Walking up to the cave, it seemed as if we were walking on rocks, but the actual underground was all glacier. We crossed a little bridge, a small ladder and... then we arrived to the cave... Now I might not be THE biggest daredevil, but I'm pretty sure this is not enough to be called adventurous! (A bit disappointed there Local Guide!)
The entrance of the cave was covered under a thick layer of sand and dirt. As you can see on the right side of the above picture, it looked more like rocks than ice. (honoustly, it had me fooled...) Inside the cave there was no room for confusion. Here the reflection of the sunlight created the beloved mystical blue walls of ice.
The cave had a special surprise for us. Melted water from the top had slowly been dripping down for a few days. The low temperatures inside the cave, made the drops freeze again and they were slowly creating what looked like a massive christmas tree. Even our guides were amazed by this overnight creation of the cave.
The cave wasn't that big but we kept discovering new beautiful details. When they told us it was time to go, we felt as if we had only gotten 5 minutes inside...not enough, not by far!
We so wanted to stay a little longer, but the next group had already entered. Once outside, we found ourselves confronted with the mass tourism of the ice caves. At least 15 more people were waiting for their turn to go in. We had been extremely lucky with our small group!
On our way back to the car, Snorry started chucking into a piece of glacier, explaining us you sometimes get to see all sorts of colours in there. I was the last one to look and was delighted when I managed to snap the following picture!
Of course then Bernd had to burst my bubble stating this was nothing more than the reflection of my helmet....
I guess it was suspiciously orange... (but then again... :D)
Snorry entertained us the entire ride back to the Local Guide headquarters. He filled us in on local legends and came up with some facts and figures about Iceland. You could feel his passion for his country. We loved having him as a guide!
Would we visit an ice cave again?
The answer is definitely yes! The tour might not have been exactly what we expected (it never seems to be with the touristic 'attractions') but the cave was so spectacular, that we would love to visit others one day (especially knowing they are all so different from each other).