Descending into an Icelandic ice cave (photograph by Ben Husmann)
From the middle of November through March, Iceland’s glaciers creak open, exposing surreal caverns.
These ice caves can be luminous or dark, depending on the pressure of the water in the glacier and their depth. The most otherworldly are the “Crystal Caves” of the Vatnajökull Glacier in Skaftafell National Park, the largest of Europe’s glaciers, where the light filters blue into the wide chasms in the ice.
Ice cave, Sólheimajökull (photograph by martin_vmorris)
Ice Cave (photo by valakirka)
Visiting ice caves is extremely hazardous and only recommended with a guide, such as Local Guide of Vatnajökull, Icelandic Mountain Guides, Goecco Eco Adventures Iceland, and Glacier Guides. Each year these guides discover the season’s caves, as each winter’s offerings are different from the last. Once summer comes, the ice becomes unsafe for humans to enter due to the threat of collapse in the warmer temperatures.
Cave in the Klofajökull glacier, Iceland (photograph by our-planet)
While Vatnajökull is without a doubt the star for photographers and tourists, it’s not the only glacier with ice caves worth exploring. They also occur on the edges of the Skeiðarárjökull, Breiðamerkurjökull, Sólheimajökull, Svínafellsjökull, Klofajökull, and Kverkfjöll glaciers. Usually water that has melted into the cave pools at the bottom, offering stunning reflections of the light that is absolutely ethereal. And as the water is constantly melting and refreezing, you can never see the same ice cave twice, making each visit an exceptional experience.