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 top of the line gear to explore in. 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.
How Long Do Ice Caves Last?
The longevity of an ice cave can vary depending on conditions (IE, season, temperature, rain, etc). We have had some last for 6-8 months to others that only last 4 weeks. The interesting thing about our side of the Vik Iceland glacier caves is that they are often insolated by sand (creating a “black ice” look) which in turn allows them to thrive longer. Many times if an ice cave recedes back, it transforms into a different type of ice cave in Iceland so it can be a really cool experience no matter what!
Top 8 Types of Ice Caves in 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 part and recede back the area merges into one massive ice cave!
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! Although, they are stable enough to be photographed under, you can often stand in front! Glacier cave wedding photo, compliments of our friends at Iceland Wedding Planner.
A crevasse ice cave happens when the glacier begins to move. It forms a deep crack or can be views as a break in the ice that starts to open. They are very exciting to visit because you feel like you are part of history, witnessing all of the layers of different types of ice. Photo compliments of our friends at Iceland Wedding Planner.
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 shifts, and skill going in and out. It is always best to hire a local guide who is both capable in driving a super jeep to get you there and also competent on the glacier itself. Quicksand is very real and dangerous along with ice falling or not knowing how to use crampons correctly. Please look to booking one of our ice cave tours in Vik Iceland, before considering an adventure on your own.
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 checkout our awesome ice cave tour offerings HERE.
Stay tuned next time to have a better understanding on how our team maintains the ice caves and keeps them safe for you year round!
Until your next adventure,
Spring has come again to Vik Iceland which in turn means the days begin getting brighter and for longer, the swells of the sea get a tiny bit smaller, and the glacier begins to melt and open more for us to continue to hunt ice caves even more for you to come and explore. Our team very much looks forward to bringing you to and guiding you through incredible ice caves this next season in our 4×4 super jeeps in Vik Iceland.
That said, I’d like to step away a bit from the glacier and adventure posts you typically come for and give you a little fun education on some of our traditions here in Vik Iceland. There are two seasons the 300 people in this village of Vik look forward to… Spring is the time when new lambs are born and fall is a time the sheep come back down from grazing in the mountains and highlands.
Did you know, there are more sheep here in Iceland than double the population (which is roughly ~330,000 people as of when this Iceland adventure blog post was written). Also, sheep have been the lifeline (like kept us alive and warm) of our tiny island in the North Atlantic for over 1,000 years. Sooo… if you are an animal rights advocate, vegan, etc please do not read on if you are offended by that statement.
Allow me to explain the cycle of our sheep here in Vik Iceland…
- Around December / Christmas time the ram’s are invited in to impregnate (by always the natural way here in Iceland, lol) the lady sheep’s (aka “Ewe’s”).
- April begins our “Lambing” season which is a super exciting time here in Vik as it is a 24/7 operation of taking shifts as the Ewe’s give birth for the next several weeks.
- The lambs come out ideally with their front legs and head first. It can be a shocking birthing process if you have not seen animal births before… Example, the lambs do not come out cute and cuddly, rather they are bloody, slimy, and often lay motionless (almost dead-looking) for a few minutes. The worst case (which again why the Vik Iceland farmers are there 24/7 during this process) is when the farmer has to pick up the lamb by its legs and swing it around by it’s hind legs to jump start a breath. The Ewe cleans the lambs by licking them and also to “bond.”
- Typically the Ewe’s have 2 lambs but sometimes they have more (the country record is 7 per one Ewe). The Ewe only has 2 teats so if she has more than two it may be given away to another Ewe who had only 1 or the farmer may milk her and bottle feed the 3-4th lambs if needed.
- The lambs can be born in all sorts of colors and combinations (mainly ivory, black or brown). They also have a short little tail that is way cuter than any other sheep you’ll see anywhere else in the world (I promise)! The special name for the tail in Icelandic is called, “Dindill.”
- Sheep are typically sheered twice a year for their wool. Their wool them gets spun into yarn which folks like the Iceland Hand Knitting Association then make into items to keep us all warm (like hats, gloves, sweaters, etc).
- The sheep stay inside typically until the weather breaks in mid to late May. The farmers in Vik (Katlatrack, often helps them by towing up the trailers with our 4×4’s) then bring the sheep and lambs up and into the mountains to graze for the summer. It’s believed that the lambs / sheep will taste better if they eat this better grass that is up in the mountains / highlands.
- Note: Some farmers outside of Vik, keep their sheep down by the roads so as we said in our “Driving in Iceland” blog post, please be careful and beware of these guys running around if they get outside of the fence.
- The sheep and their lambs stay there until around the weekend of September 14th…
When the weekend of September 14th comes around each year, it as a special Icelandic name: Réttir. This is our annual sheep round-up weekend. This is one of our oldest traditions (and in my opinion one of the most fun) in Iceland. Farmers invite their family, friends, and anyone else who wants to join them in rounding up the sheep from the mountains, highlands, canyons, and valleys where they have spent time enjoying and eating through the summer. Folks head up to these areas for the weekend with the intention of getting all of the sheep back to the farm base by the weekends end. It usually involves 4×4’s in Vik (we send our guys in who are not doing ice cave tours that weekend), lots of walking, sometimes sheep herding dogs, horses, ATV’s, etc. Each evening the celebration continued further with Icelandic beers, Brennivin (aka Black Death), singing, dancing and story-telling. It’s a really good weekend 😉
Following this epic weekend, the lambs then get sorted for slaughter. So if visiting Iceland during this fall into winter time you will see lots of lamb on the menus, overflowing at super markets, “Blóðmör” (black pudding) and “Lifrapylsa” (liver sausage) around. I encourage you to try it, to experience our culture at a very local level.
We hope today you have enjoyed the change of pace on our blog feature and learned a bit more about this tiny island in the North Atlantic. Next time, we will be back with more Vik adventures and exploration for you to feast your eyes on!
Your Adventure Awaits,
Guðjon + Katlatrack Team
Icelandic people are hearty. For years, they have been bred and born on this tiny island in the North Atlantic, hundreds and even thousands of miles away from other countries. They have learned to self-sustain, use everything (no waste) and adapted tricks to ensure survival against the extreme weather conditions each season brings. They have grown up in and are used to bad and stormy weather conditions. They are not only raised in it, not only know how to handle themselves in it, but also how to encourage and prepare others to get through any sort of scary snow storms and windy storm weather conditions.
The weather in Iceland is the most unpredictable (some may even say volatile) you will ever encounter while traveling, anywhere. Specifically in Vik Iceland, the landscape is so diverse, which is what creates those amazing natural wonders in the first place, is actually that extreme weather. Iceland is the land of fire and ice for a reason after all! We often have wind storms, sandstorms, snow storms, hail/sleet even in summer and Vik is on average one of the more rainy parts of Iceland.
That said, our 4×4 Super Jeep adventure tours in Vik Iceland operate rain or shine. Because honestly, if we only did tours in perfect weather (IE, sunshine and light winds) we would not be able to share these amazing, unique local areas with anyone! And that would be such a shame because our adventurous locations outside of Vik allow you to experience the untouched pure (non-touristy) side of Iceland which very few actually get to experience. So don’t worry if the weather is bad on your scheduled adventure tour with us, because our team is more than capable on how to handle it and keep you safe all the way through it. Today we would like to walk you through what that means when you book an experience with Katlatrack Adventure Tours in Vik Iceland, no matter the weather.
When bad weather comes during a scheduled 4×4 super jeep tour in Vik Iceland, we embrace it! Why? Because our guests will get a very real Icelandic experience. Our team is also very skilfull in handling themselves through it to ensure your safety at hand is #1. We prepare in advance and have an advantage over other adventure tour companies. You might be curious to how? Allow me to elaborate below:
Experienced Super Jeep Drivers:
All of our Katlatrack super jeep guides are thoroughly experienced drivers in all vehicle types and in all conditions. They all must have a specific commercial driving license and be trained up to our standards in maneuverability. Driving through snow and heavy rains becomes an art-form. And by training… I don’t just mean being able to drive the super jeep itself, I rather mean we go out and drive in blizzards, wind storms, etc to ensure they are able to handle it all. So from crossing mountain passes or driving through rivers or storms, our team is fully trained and experienced.
During storms and heavy fog in Vik Iceland, one can often become disorientated if tracks are not tried and true beforehand. Our top of the line geographical highland navigation system helps our guides adventure through all conditions clearly and accurately. This not only ensures your safety in the 4×4 super jeep but also the safety of the landscape (IE, remember from our Driving in Iceland post, off road driving is illegal).
Local Knowledge of Vik Iceland:
Being based in Vik Iceland, our guides have a local knowledge of the area that is superior. We have been doing tours specifically in Vik Iceland professionally since 2009. This gives us an overall advantage to know and understand how the rivers behave, what it means when winds are coming from a specific direction or when they are at their strongest and when tide levels are high or change. Also, we visit the glacier everyday and see and feel the changes that happen, which allow for us to make judgement calls on what is safe and not for our group (or what gear is needed to safely venture in) to explore during an ice cave tour for example.
First Aid Trained:
If worst case, something were to happen during one of our Vik Iceland Adventure Tours or during an Ice Cave Tour, please remain worry free, as each Katlatrack team member is trained in first aid and can carefully work through any type of situation that may arise. We are also skilled in keeping situations calm.
Although, some people may get scared/worried/stressed when the weather turns bad on an adventure tour at the glacier, rest assured our team is experienced and ready for you!
Until next time,
Guðjon + Katlatrack Team
© 2017, Katlatrack, All Rights Reserved.
Winter has officially come to Iceland! Although the daylight hours are limited, the adventure level still runs high during those hours. And believe us, we utilize every single second for your adventure when you come to Vik Iceland for our 4×4 tour! As you have likely already figured out, the South of Iceland is the richest of landscape diversity. Every 5 minutes, your eyes will be overwhelmed by a stunning waterfall, beautifully shaped mountain, unique rock formation, or glaciers in the distance.
So when you start thinking about winter in Vik Iceland… What kind of tours get you the most excited? Today we would love to introduce you to the incredible things to do during winter time here in Iceland (and also bust any myths that you might think are available or easy accessed)!
Ice Cave Tour in Vik Iceland
This might be our favorite type of tour during this time of year because every year new ice caves are formed (because our glaciers are receding each year, not growing in length). The really amazing thing about our secret glacier area, is that there are multiple layers to the glacier so you see years of history coming out of the glacier. How exciting is that? You’ll feel like you’re part of Icelandic history!
You will witness black ice (from years of the black desert sand hitting it and freezing), you see pure white/clear ice (once the sand washes off) and the glimmer of blue ice (which is light reflecting). Our ice caves in Vik Iceland are many times not the glorious “blue ice” caves you see in the typical photos, but they offer more charm, history, and seclusion.
The ice caves our Vik Iceland based Katlatrack team will take you to offer a more private feel. We commit to not taking in large groups in to journey to the ice caves (whereas our competition in other ice cave areas will take in 30-50+ people at time) so you have a more intimate moment with the subglacial volcano. It’s our mission to provide the most memorable and intimate experience you have when you come to visit Iceland. So during our Ice Cave Tour in Vik Iceland, you will interact with a local guide educating you the home-grown geology, folklore stories, safety brief, and an unbelievable adventure into a natural ice cave!
Plus, our team is continuously scouting for new ice caves around our glacier so often times during our tours, we may see more than one! The ice caves may vary in size, texture and tone, but they will leave you impressed and totally connected with Vik Iceland for the rest of your lives! Feel free to grab a seat on one of our Ice Cave tours in Vik Iceland, HERE.
Super Jeep 4×4 Tour in Vik Iceland
There is something really unforgettable about buzzing through snow in a 4×4 super jeep! You feel like a total badass, free, and a little high on adrenaline! So if you take our advice from our previous post of splurging on an extraordinary Offbeat Tour in Vik Iceland, you’ll never regret it! You’ll be able to go home and know you saw areas of Iceland the majority of the locales haven’t even seen! Think: Hidden caves, a subglacial volcano (say what?!), tops of incredible mountains, and landscapes you’ve only seen in movies! Our “Under the Volcano” 4×4 super jeep tour from Vik Iceland would be a fantastic fit for you if you find yourself looking for just that! Feel free to grab a seat on the tour, HERE.
Frozen Waterfall Hunting in Iceland
Waterfalls are one of the most amazing natural wonder features we have in Iceland. And I’m proud to say that Southern Iceland is gushing with them! In winter, they sometimes freeze partially or fully making it a really unique photo opportunity! Fun Fact: Iceland is an island that boasts over 6,000 waterfalls and only 3,000 of them have names! Can you imagine find a secret frozen waterfall with us and giving it a name you create!? We would love to take you on a custom private waterfall hunting adventure. Feel free to contact us HERE to find out more information on a custom winter 4×4 tour in Vik Iceland.
Caving in Vik Iceland
There are countless unique natural caves in Iceland that have been created by lava flow, glaciers receding, or the ocean retreating. During winter, they may need to be dug out a tiny bit, but that only adds to the adventure level, right?! We would love to put together a custom tour for you to experience some of Iceland’s natural caves. Contact us HERE for more information.
Game of Thrones Tours in Vik Iceland
Countless films and television shows have been filmed in Iceland and specifically the Southern part. In our local area of Vik Iceland there are many locations where Game of Thrones and several of the Star Wars movies were filmed. If you’re a fan, seeing the area in wintertime is quite the treat! Feel free to book one of our Custom Tours to delight in that once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Snowmobiling in Iceland
During wintertime in Iceland, there is an endless list of company’s doing snowmobiling tours. It can be a fun way to ride around on the landscape! Although we prefer to stay warm and cozy in our super jeeps, we understand some of you may love the wind blowing on your face!
This is one of the biggest myths about Icelandic wintertime I would like to “bust.” We are not a culture that ever required sleigh dogs. We only use our dogs for herding sheep. Many people assume since we are a Nordic country, dog sledding is part of our culture, but it’s not. There is only one company in the entire island doing dog sledding tours in Iceland. More often than not also if there is not a enough snow, they have the dogs run you on a wheeled sleigh, so it is NOT the traditional dog sledding experience I am sure you were hoping for. That said, we encourage you to do dog sledding tours in Greenland or Lapland =)
Northern Lights Hunting in Vik Iceland
Hunting for Northern Lights can sometimes be a daunting task… Why? Because it’s unpredictable. So booking a ticket to Iceland during our “Northern Lights” season (which is typically between October-March) does not guarantee you will see them, sorry! There are several variables in play here like the weather (it needs to be cold and a clear night), the sun (it needs to have emitted solar flares a day or two before) and the amount of nearby light (you want it to be DARK, no light pollution). But if you have several days to commit to the challenge your chances of seeing increase!
Glacier Walking / Ice Climbing
Hearing the crampons click onto the ice is one of my favorite sounds. It’s empowering and you’re one with the glacier all at the time same time. By coming onto the glacier (either by walking or ice climbing) you’re able to experience a viewpoint that is not only unique, but gives you perspective. More often than not you’ll leave the glacier feeling accomplished and inspired. We offer these tours by custom booking only, based on skill level and availability. Feel free to contact us HERE for more information on glacier walking / climbing in Vik Iceland.
So what Winter Tour will you choose in Vik Iceland? So many exciting options! Or if you choose to journey on your own to the tourist locations in Vik, please make sure you go back and read our wonderful blog post, “Driving in Iceland” for tips to keep you safe. We look forward to seeing you on one of our Adventure Tours in Vik Iceland!
Until next time,
Guðjon + Katlatrack Team
© 2017, Katlatrack, All Rights Reserved.
Since 2009 our team at Katlatrack has been handcrafting offbeat tours in Southern Iceland. It is extremely important to us for you (and your group) to appreciate the non-touristy side of Iceland and go home with an unforgettable EXPERIENCE. So today we would like to educate you on some Facts versus Fiction in regard to Iceland Tours and Locations.
< FACT >
There is a HUGE difference between booking a tour (or self-driving) to the mainstream locations which will be flooded with 100’s of tourists VERSUS exploring one of our unique locations.
< FACT >
We want you to walk away from our 4×4 super jeep tours in Vik Iceland with an overwhelming feeling of “I just discovered this place” for the very first time and that this place only exists for you right now. It’s a feeling of almost as if time stops.
< FICTION >
You are going to be alone at the typical tourist locations like: Reynsfjara Black Sand Beach, Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Thingvellir, Gullfoss, Kerid, etc.
With tourism now being at an all-time high and the majority of visitors using Photoshop and editing programs to “edit people out” of photos they post of their travels, it’s heartbreaking when you show up and you’re not alone. But really, when you show up at your favorite Blogger or Instagramers spot, often you will be greeted with a scene like this at Iceland’s many tourist locations (many 50-person buses and hundreds of people):
< FACT >
Whereas, with our offbeat Iceland tours you may not even see the random hiker, horseback rider, or local small group or explorers!
< FICTION >
You need a super jeep to drive the famed “Golden Circle” route.
Noway – No need! Self-drive that route (see HERE) and save your dollars for an exclusive tour with a local guide Katlatrack in Vik Iceland!
< FICTION >
There are always volcanos erupting in Iceland.
Sorry guys, at the time of writing this blog post, it has been over 2 years since our last eruption (and before then over 4 years). Although we are a volcanic island, we do not have volcanos erupting constantly like Hawaii, etc.
But what we do have are overdue ones, some amazing subglacial volcanos with epic amounts of ICE and a good folklore story to match… And natural caves that were formed from glaciers receding or old lava flow. Come along with us for one of our Vik Iceland super jeep tours to discover this!
< FACT >
The key differences between our Super Jeep Tours and others in Iceland are things such as the following:
- The Experience: We are truly local to Vik Iceland.
- Level of Attention to Detail… We care about you!
- The amount of people you will see on our tours. Often, you will not run into many people during our tour stops / locations.
- Our super jeep team asks for special permission to take you to these offbeat locations.
- We offer background / history on the locations (and sometimes a neat folklore story too!)
- Whatever the weather we can devise our best options for “plan a” or “plan b” options if booking a private custom tour.
- The Katlatrack team have your safety in mind always.
- Every single guide working with Katlatrack are respectful and considerate to the Icelandic nature. We are firm believers in leaving the area better than when we arrived and only taking memories.
Your Adventure Awaits You,
Guðjon + Katlatrack Team
When you’re out adventuring in Iceland, it’s nice to have options for lunch than just delighting in random bad-for-you snacks from a gas station… Imagine pulling up to a natural cave and exploring around while lunch is being prepared for you! During our private tours from Vik Iceland, we are happy to add on a custom lunch option for you and your group.
So what could that be?
Packed lunches (sandwich, skyr, fruit, chocolate, and water).
There are not many things more traditional to Icelanders then a Pylsur (hot dog) and a Coke. Think: A tasty lamb hot hog, on a warm grilled bun topped with crispy fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard (called Pylsusinnep), and Remúlaði (kinda tastes like American potato salad). Tell me your mouth isn’t watering just thinking about it! Comes with Chocolate, Coke, Water, and Coffee.
If you want to go full on luxury during your Iceland private super jeep tour, we can offer you an amazing display of grilled marinated lamb, potato salad, and chips. Followed by wonderful Icelandic chocolates. Your choice of Icelandic beers, sodas, or coffee.
If interested in adding on this awesome option to your private 4×4 adventure tour in Vik Iceland, please contact us for a custom quote.
Your Adventure Awaits You,
Guðjon + Katlatrack Team