Saturday, 25 July 2015

Lofthellir in North Iceland: Natural Ice Sculptures in a 3,500 year old lava cave

In the far north of Iceland lies a weird but beautiful world of ice and darkness. Enter Cave Lofthellir. Here, the underground boasts the greatest natural ice sculptures currently known in an Icelandic lava cave.

Lofthellir Cave - Ice Cave Tour

Lofthellir is a 3,500 year old lava cave that extends around 370 meters long and boasts formations that will leave you in awe. You can choose whether you want to start the tour from Akureyri or the Lake Myvatn area.

Lofthellir Cave - Ice Cave Tour

To get to the cave, you’ll drive to an area a mere 45 minute drive from Lake Myvatn. You’ll cross the unique volcano Hverfell, through the crater row of Lúdentarborgir to the roots of Mt. Hvannfell. After a 30 minute or so walk across a lava field, filled with unusual rock and landscape formations, you’ll arrive at a ladder made from rope which you’ll descend in order to enter the cave.

You’ll likely be given rubber boots since although it’s likely to be dry on your hike, you’ll need protection for your shoes once you enter the ice cave. Remember, it’ll be very wet inside.

Lofthellir Cave - Ice Cave Tour

Once you descend the ladder with your weatherproof gear on, you’re greeted with crystal clear ice before you make your way into the core of the cave itself.

After a few shallow chambers, you need to use a rope to get to the larger chambers, pulling yourself up along a slick area of ice. If you’re claustrophobic, then this may not be for you but if not, it’s certainly an adventure. On the way back, I recommend just sliding down the ice holding onto the rope while you do so – it’s one way to feel ten years old again in a split second.

Lofthellir Cave - Ice Cave Tour

The colors inside the cave are stunning – vibrant and surreal at the same time.

Lofthellir Cave - Ice Cave Tour

At one point while we were in the main chamber, our guide turned off all the lights and asked us to dim the flashers on our helmuts. Suddenly, we were completely in the dark with the only sound to be heard, a mere drizzle of water from an icicle above.

Lofthellir Cave - Ice Cave Tour

We sat quiet for many minutes listening to that soft drizzle and not uttering a word – silence meets serenity. It was a magical experience and something I’d recommend doing even if your guide doesn’t call for it.

lofthellir

Note: I did it with Visit Askja (info@visitaskja.com), a personalized adventure tour company that specializes in trips. All opinions expressed here are my own. I’d recommend taking one or more of their tours when you’re in the north of the country.

They have free hotel pick-up and departure time is 09:30am. This tour takes around 4-5 hours and the longest hiking time is 2x25 minutes.


This tour is not recommended or suitable for young children, people with claustrophobia or people that are not in reasonable physical condition. There is ice and water on the floor of the cave and the temperature inside the cave is around 0°C.

lofthellir

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