So, you have seen one of those amazing ice-caves pictures in some travel magazines and want to learn all about it. Well, Yesha and I have done that too and wanted to finally experience the ice-caves ourselves. In this blog, we will share our amazing experience at the Ice-caves in Iceland, courtesy our amazing touring company Glacier Adventure and our guide Sandra.
So the story unfolds a couple of years ago when we both visited Iceland in summer of 2016, and even though we did a cross country road trip for 15 days, we missed out on experiencing the ice-caves since during the summer they are closed as it is unsafe. The glacier is melting rapidly, and summer temperatures can really extenuate that even further. We made our mind to come back one day during the early winter to experience this, and recently we made a quick 4-night trip to Iceland with the glacier caving adventure being the prime reason for the visit.
We were staying in Fosshotel glacier lagoon and to get to the tour, we had to reach Hali, which is about 40 mins drive. Once in the small village of Hali, you cannot miss the sign boards for the glacier adventure tour. It is right behind a nice restaurant building that looks like a bookshelf. We checked in 15 mins before our tour departure and were warmly greeted by our wonderful host Sandra. She helped us with the required equipments like crampons, Axe(if needed), rope, harness, Helmet etc and also ensured we had the right shoes available. You can also rent out gloves, bags in case you don’t have one. Be very sure to dress up in layers so you are warm. Sandra then gave us a quick information of our day. Once we were ready, we boarded a nice 4*4 van to the get to the base of the glacier.
On our way to the glacier, Sandra told us about the history of the glacier, the local village Hali which got its name from an “animal’s tail” as it is surrounded by water, and a strip of land resembles an animal’s tail. We were also surprised to hear that only a few Icelandics have actually been on the ice-cave and the glaciers as they think of glacier as a demon. During the drive, there is a detour off the main highway to get to the glacier and the road is very bumpy. It is not recommended for regular cars and even SUV’s may struggle to get here, so recommend you come here with an expert guide like Glacier Adventures. The entire dirt road is remincient of the Glacier which once extended on the road, with some glacier ice still hanging down from the mountain, though technically they are not considered glacier anymore. It took us about 45 mins to get from Hali to the glacier and once we got there, we got down and were provided helmets and started walking towards the glacier.
Walk to the glacier is a rocky 45 mins walk and on the way, Sandra told us how much the glacier has advanced back. She pointed us the most famous rock in Iceland in 2015, which once had an Ice-cave over it, but is now completely barren. We took a moment to think about how fast these glaciers are receding, and marched forward to get to the glacier. After crossing a few small streams, we finally made it to the glacier and could see a massive Ice-cave right in front of us. Sandra handed our small traction devices as we went inside the cave. The Ice-cave were very massive, very blue & shining like a diamond. I could see how excited Yesha got looking at as if I gifted her a big diamond!
Having a helmet here is very important as some of it can crumble at any point, and there were some sharp icicles as well which can fall off. We went further inside the Ice-cave where in certain areas we had to really scoot down to about 2-3 feet. We continued all the way till the very end before it became impossible to get through as we saw some amazing glacier ice all around us with streams flowing right under us from the glacier. We also were lucky to check out the top of the glacier right from under the ice-cave in few spots.
After this, we made our way out of the ice-cave as it was now time to head to the top of the glacier. Sandra helped us put on our crampons since that is a must on a glacier. Our first spot here was a massive “Moulin “, which is a French word meaning “mill”. We found ourselves in the centre of the moulin with ice-walls climbing as high as 100 meters in some areas. The glacier itself is about 1 KM deep at its highest point!
For our second spot on the Glacier, we had to walk along a rope using our carabiners as it was on the edge of the glacier and scramble our way through some narrow ice bridges and crevasses. The good thing is that the tour guide had already placed some ropes along the way which helped pull ourselves up the glacier. The entire pathway though was just magical as can be seen from the pictures below. And we climbed until the top of Moulin sleeking in and walking in one row helping each other. This was the most adventurous moment of our entire hike and we were amazed with all the blue ice around us.
Once we made it to the top of the glacier, it was a surreal feeling to see the glacier spread miles over miles and to see how far above the surface we are on. We continued our way to another “moulin” where we decided to take a quick stop for some refreshments that we carried. There was glacial ice all around and it made for some amazing textures on the walls and on the floor.
Our last stop on the glacier was seeing the same moulin and ice-cave that we were under when we started. It was astonishing to imagine we were about 100 feet under of this compact ice just an hour or two ago! The path however was not a bit dangerous, so we had to be careful to not get too close to the edge. After taking a final few pictures, we descended the glacier via a different route, and made it to ground in another 20 mins. Once back, it was time to take those crampons off and head back to the van which was another 45 mins walk backwards.
On our way back from the trailhead to the tour meeting point, Sandra also informed us about different vegetations and farming culture in the region and told us many stories and facts about the glaciers. We were still in awe of what we had witnessed that day and were over the moon with the experience of a lifetime. One should surely experience this magical land and if you are in Iceland, you must try the ice-caves and we can’t think of a better way to enjoy it.
Also, one must remember that everyday is different in a glacier as the formations keep changing so you can be lucky to witness something even better than what we saw 😉