Taking a trip to Iceland during wintertime (or really anytime), many have exploring ice caves on their token “to do” list. So as you plan your adventurous trip throughout the dynamic landscape, you might be curious as to where in Iceland may be the very best areas for seeing ice caves. Southern Iceland is hands down the answer. There are countless glacier outlets and secret areas that are home to many different types of ice caves. We are extremely lucky that one very beautiful area is in our backyard of Vik Iceland. So come along with us as we share with you the Top 8 Types of Ice Caves in Iceland!
Vik Iceland Ice Cave Guides:
Our Katlatrack Vik Iceland based team has been proud to offer year-round ice caves for the past 2 years. Previously, it was thought that ice caves in Iceland were only stable to go into during the months of late November to March (official ice cave season). This is when the temperatures in Iceland allow for safe exploration. The good news is because of the growth in tourism and our little town of Vik, our super jeep team and guides have become more creative on the areas they have scouted and developed.
Our professional ice cave tour guides take time to educate you before heading to the glacier area on what to expect, he creates steps, fastens ladders and lights inside the cave, creates handrails (via ropes and ice screws (as needed), and equips you with the top of the line gear to explore it. This will make your experience the best, most enjoyable, and safest possible! See our reviews HERE to see firsthand how our team and tours work.
Please Note: Due to the nature of how the glaciers in Iceland are changing daily and constantly receding, we can never guarantee what type of ice cave you will see on an ice cave tour booked with us, but you’ll see one! This is especially true if coming in summer (May-September). We are one of the only ones offering summer ice cave tours in the entire country of Iceland.
1- Waterfall Ice Cave:
Waterfall ice caves are typically the most interesting to explore because they keep evolving each day. They grow in height and recede back because of the glacier river running through it. Typically inside you will find many different textures and tones from white ice, to black and the famed blue ice. Many times this type of ice cave will require you to be fearless (IE, Not scared of heights or claustrophobic) as it will likely require you to wear crampons and crouch down (not standing tall) in order to explore.
2- Tunnel Ice Cave:
More often than not, the ice cave that survives the longest throughout the summer months (and most often found) is a tunnel ice cave. Our Vik Iceland glacier guides constantly ensure safety while exploring them as they can be challenging. If you tend to be claustrophobic this may not be a easy experience for you, but may be an excellent opportunity to conquer that fear! Entrance heights and overall ice cave tunnel heights can vary from 3 feet to 6 feet and can grow bigger as the cave recedes. The caves offer incredible textures though once inside. As you will see the grooves and divots of the walls and likely witness blue, black, and white ice.
3- Sinkhole Ice Caves in Iceland:
Last year and this year’s sinkhole ice cave in Vik Iceland had a longevity of 8 months with our glacier guide team. A sinkhole ice cave is created by a moulin which in geo terms means that water powerfully ran over that surface spot until it had enough pressure to “sink in.” As the glacier begins to break
4- Arch Ice Cave:
As big caves (all types) begin to recede and break apart, they often leave fantastic and almost artistic ice arch caves!
A crevasse ice cave happens when the glacier begins to move. It forms a deep crack or can
6- Ponded Water Ice Cave:
The most photographed type of ice cave worldwide is the traditional “ponded water” ice cave. It is the clearest, pure, and creates the illusion of a crystal look many seek. This is not a super common type of ice cave to witness at our offbeat / non-touristy side of the glacier, but it does happen. The conditions at the glacier area have to be right…
The creation of a ponded water ice cave in Vik Iceland begins with partly how the sinkhole ice cave is created with that water melting a hole into the glacier. Once it has done that the water redirects itself to drain to the lowest point of the glacier where the glacier “spring water” begins to freeze and grow out. These type of ice caves are only viewable during the formal ice cave season of December – March and are dependent upon freezing temperatures to remain stable.
7- Accumulated Snow Ice Cave:
Winter is a really exciting time in Iceland because with the large amounts of snow at the glaciers and freezing temperatures it often allows for new and unique ice caves to be born. Crazy snow and ice storms overnight can often create an accumulated snow ice cave at our glacier, Katla.
8- Blue or Black Ice Caves in Iceland:
Light overall creates the effect of blue or black ice so this can actually happen in any type of ice cave in Iceland. But it begins with snow falling onto the glacier, being compressed, as the ice crystals and divots enlarge over time, they squeeze out air bubbles. This can make the ice appear colorless (clear / crystal), blue when lots of light is coming in or black on our glacier mainly because of the black volcanic sand. The size of the blue or black ice caves can vary depending on the glacier and season.
Word of Warning about Glacier Ice Caves in Iceland:
Please remember that it is never safe to enter into an ice cave by yourself. You need proper gear, local knowledge of how the area
Love this Top 10 Types of Ice Caves in Iceland blog post? Our Katlatrack super jeep team would love to take you out on an offbeat ice cave adventure! Feel free to
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Until your next adventure,