Katla Glacier (Katlajökull) is a subglacial volcano found within Southern Iceland. The direct translation for Katla means “kettle.” But it is one of the prettiest female names we have in Icelandic too. Further, this area is a sub outlet of the fourth largest glacier in Iceland named, Mýrdalsjökull. But no one actually knows exactly how many sub outlets the ice cap has either because many of its points have yet to be explored. Especially the ones deep into the Icelandic highlands. However, our Katlatrack Adventure Tours team is proud to call Katlajökull our glacier base. So come along with us today as we tell you everything you need to know about Katla Glacier!
History of Katla Glacier:
Did you know, that the glacier above and slightly west of Vik actually covers Katla Volcano? Subglacial volcanos are often the most feared in Iceland. Why? Because it is not a typical lava flow type of eruption.
Rather it would consist of violent explosions, and meltwater rushing down and causing a huge flood. As a matter of fact, there is fear in the town of Vik that it could create a tsunami and destroy the village. Although we are hopeful it will not and it will keep to the outlying areas!
The eruption history of Katla begins in 930 to 1918 shows that this elusive volcano erupts every 40-80 years. So it’s fair to say she is overdue! The size of the Katla caldera is massive being a diameter of over 6 miles (10km). History says that the amount of floodwater that could come down is between 200,000–400,000 m3/s (7.1–14.1 million cu ft/sec).
Totally crazy to think about the actual scale of that. However, one thing is for sure and that is you do not want to be in the way of this flood when it comes down! Don’t stress though about the volcano being overdue and coming on a tour with us, because there will be a warning to get back to the town safely. There is a very specific plan of action the town has ready to activate if and when this happens.
Folklore Surrounding Katla:
Our area base of Vik runs deep with folklore… But you’ll have to join one of our Katla Glacier tours to experience it firsthand! Why? It’s super important you experience the Katla Glacier folklore story firsthand from one of our local guides! For instance, they go above and beyond to ensure you know the entire story and all of the happenings surrounding Katla glacier.
Movies or Television Shows Filmed at Katla:
For over a decade, our Katlatrack team has shared the glacier with countless film projects. To illustrate, ask one of our Vik local guides about the infamous story about Russel Crow and the movie Noah. Or about the time the Netflix series Katla took over our ice caves.
Furthermore, other films such as the recent, The Witcher (Season 2), Transformers the Last Knight, Star Wars Rogue One, etc have all called Katla Glacier home for a specific time period. Imagine being a part of movie history by visiting our iconic glacier just outside of Vik Iceland.
How to Get to Katla:
Finding your way to Katla Glacier is more tricky than you may initially anticipate. After all the road goes through different private properties, has a river crossing, and believe it or not quicksand is a real-life breathing thing in case you haven’t yet experienced it!
Firstly, you’ll meet at our Katlatrack Meeting Center in the heart of Vik Iceland. Secondly, we will meet, greet you, and gear up while you jump into our super jeep! Thirdly, you’ll go from the tiny town of Vik to the infamous Katla Glacier. Along the way, your Katlatrack driver-guide will explain why the area is unique and educate you on many other items. Fourthly, you’ll put on crampons, a helmet, and a headlamp and begin your once in a lifetime discovery of Katla Glacier!
Katla Glacier Area Features:
When you explore a glacier there are many different types of unique features you may come across. Why? The glacier is alive, that simple. Unfortunately, no one controls nature. Therefore, in booking an adventure to a glacier in Iceland you may have the opportunity to see some or all of the following types of landscapes:
• Glacier Waterfalls
• Ice Caves (varying in types and sizes)
• Ice Valley’s
• Interesting Ice Formations
• Black, White, and Blue Ice textures
• Quick Sand
• Glacier Walls (with white, black and blue ice)
Katla Ice Caves:
Furthermore, did you know there are different types of ice caves? Therefore, our Katla ice cave tours can never promise a specific type… Because remember, nature is in charge, not us! But know we have a commitment to our current and upcoming clients that we do scout weekly and keep track of potential upcoming caves as well. Meanwhile, please be aware the area is ever-changing with the weather in Iceland and temperatures rising and falling.
Life and Death of an Ice Cave:
With Katla Glacier area being alive, the area enters into phases. For example, you may book a tour at the beginning of the life of an ice cave when it is a sweet little tunnel bit enough for 1-4 people. Next, the tunnel may combine with another glacial element (IE. Waterfall, Mulan, etc) which may make it larger, who knows. Then add in the Icelandic weather and the area could widen or disintegrate, who knows. What you may be left with is an ever-changing ice valley… Picture stunning blue ice boulders, unforgettable formations, and so much more.
Therefore, this evolution is exactly why we cannot promise any specific type of ice cave when you book a Vik ice cave tour to Katla Glacier. On the other hand, we have been the trailblazing team who has been the ones that have taken the time to scout, make the paths safe, and provide an unforgettable way to the ice caves near the town of Vik.
Over more than a decade, our Katlatrack team has been witness to 15+ ice caves. But all have varied in size opening, length, color, and dynamics. However, the beautiful experience overall to remember is that it changes every single day. Therefore, your experience will be different from others before and after. Enjoy that simple fact!
Are you leaving curious and maybe even inspired to book your very own adventure tour to Katla Glacier? If so, we would love to see you on a future tour… Feel free to book your adventure with us! Out local Vik Iceland guides await to craft your unforgettable experience!