Now this is an extraordinary tour - a visit to the largest commercial man-made ice cave tunnel in the world in Iceland's second largest glacier, Langjökull! The cave opened on June 1st 2015 and I first visited it on June 11th 2015. A year later I visited it again with the tour-company, Bustravel Iceland. This is quite an exceptional experience - to walk hundreds of metres inside a glacier!
The pick-up for my tour started at 7:00 am and on our way to the ice cave tunnel we passed some beautiful sight and made several stops on the way.
We visited the beautiful Hvalfjörður bay, which is often passed by since the Hvalfjarðargöngin or the Whale Bay Tunnel was built back in 1998. This bay, which used to be ever so busy, is now a tranquil area.
Our first stop was at the small waterfall by the preserved area of Fossárrétt round up. It is a beautiful picnic stop.
We drove by the only whaling stations in Iceland and our next stop was by the barracks from WWII, but during that war both the British and American navies had a naval base in Hvalfjörður.
Here by the barracks our guide told us an elf story (which I of course love) as there is an elf spot right above the barracks. A very interesting story.
Deildartunguhver bubbles and boils and spurts a whole lot. You can walk up to it, but there is a small fence right in front of it to protect us from this extremely hot water. I love the multitude of colours by this powerful hot spring and despite the steam one can get really lovely photos of the colours. One just has to wait a while and protect the lens and shoot at the right moment when the steam goes down a bit.
Our next stop was by one of my favourite waterfalls in Iceland, Hraunfossar or Lava Falls. They are almost 1 km wide and consist of countless springs of clear subterranean water, which wells up from underneath the edge of the lava field Hallmundarhraun and runs in falls and rapids into the glacial river Hvítá in Borgarfjörður. I love the aquamarine colour of the river and there are so many different photo opportunities of these beautiful falls.
There is another waterfall next to Hraunfossar, called Barnafoss or Children's Falls, as two boys drowned in the falls when they were crossing over on a stone arch.
By now we were getting closer to Langjökull glacier as this lava field flowed in an eruption from one of the volcanoes by the glacier in ca year 930.
The bus drove us to the edge of the glacier and there we were greeted by an enormous 8-wheel monster glacier truck, a former NATO missile-launcher truck!
We stopped by at the "glacier offices" of Into the Glacier where we got some protection for our shoes, as it can get wet deep inside the glacier. And if the staff of Into the Glacier deems that people are not properly dressed for entering the ice cave tunnel then they will offer you protective overalls. It is best to wear warm waterproof clothes for a visit to the glacier.
The monster truck then took us on the 40-minute-drive on the glacier up to the mouth of the ice cave tunnel, from 750 m above sea level up to 1260 m above sea level! It is quite an adventure to sit inside such a truck driving on the second largest glacier in Iceland!
After the 40 minute drive in the monster glacier truck we finally saw the ice cave tunnel with the sign Into the Glacier. Snow has to be constantly cleared from the opening of the tunnel or else it would disappear.
We first stopped just inside the entrance to get some crampons, which were provided to us for the walk inside the ice cave tunnel. I was glad as even though I was wearing good hiking shoes, then it made all the difference wearing these crampons.
As you can see from the photo below then I was also wearing protective waterproof "shoes".
After putting on the crayons we followed the guide into the glacier chapel - just imagine, a chapel deep inside a glacier! Weddings have taken place here - now that would be a unique experience in beautiful surroundings - in the heart of Iceland's second largest glacier!
It is a beautiful chapel with walls made of aquamarine ice and a frozen altar.
One of our tour guides, who is also a singer, sang a couple of songs for us in the chapel. So I know first-hand that the acoustics in the chapel are superb.
When you walk around in the ice tunnels you will notice some black stripes in the ice layers of the ice walls. Here you can see the chronological story of the glacier and each black line shows a volcanic eruption - one can even see the ash from the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption from 2010.
In several places there are information signs on the walls of the tunnel, with information in Icelandic and English on the glacier.
The ice cave tunnel is 500 metres long and reaches 30 metres down into the glacier. There are 5 man-made chambers, beautifully aquamarine and bright blue in colour.
The excavation of the ice cave tunnel took 14 months and 5,500 m3 of ice was removed! 4-8 people worked in the tunnel every day of the week during this time, so one can see that this was a massive accomplishment.
In one spot the tunnel was so narrow that I could reach both sides with stretched out hands! Behind me on the photo there is a hole in the ice tunnel where we could look inside the glacier outside of the tunnel.
Looking into the hole in the ice cave tunnel was quite eye-opening. I had kind of got used to walking in the tunnel and when I looked into the hole or window, as it were, it made me realize that I was actually deep inside a glacier!
In another place we walked onto a timber bridge and stood in the middle of a crevasse - all beautifully lit up with icicles. The crevasse is 40 meters deep and a couple of hundred meters long! Standing in the middle of a crevasse deep inside the glacier was quite surreal.
It was both scary and extremely beautiful. These crevasses are so dangerous, that is why people are not allowed to walk on the glaciers without a guide. There have been fatal accidents on Langjökull glacier, where people have been killed when falling into a crevasse on the glacier. One of my school mates got killed when she fell into a crevasse on Langjökull glacier :(
Since the glaciers are moving all the time it is not known for how long the ice cave tunnel is going to last. But it is presumed that it will last for at least 10 years with maintenance.
On the photo below you will see how the glacier is pressing the ice down. This entrance used to be much higher and the guide is demonstrating how much it has shrunk, as it were.
The final stop on the ice cave tunnel tour was by this beautifully lit up blue wall, ideal for taking photos before leaving the ice cave tunnel. My husband loves his hats and caps and has a collection of more than 500 hats. I think he looks strange in this one, but he does not approve of me criticizing what he is wearing on his head ;)
I had better worn one of his caps as my hair was wet from falling drops of water inside the ice cave tunnel.
It is cold inside the ice cave tunnel, so dress warmly and bring a hat, a scarf, woollen socks and fingerless gloves, as I am sure you will want to take tons of photos like I did. And bring sunglasses as well as if the sun will be shining when you go on this tour you will be blinded by the reflection from the glacier when you exit the ice cave tunnel. On my first visit I was blinded by the sun, but on this visit it was foggy so sunglasses were not needed.
This is a truly unforgettable tour and one of its kind in the world!
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