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Visit a Summer Ice Cave in Iceland

 Exploring a glacier is an awe-inspiring and is hands down an unforgettable experience to have!  From the mind-boggling size of it, the different textures of the ice and the glacier’s surface and its frozen beauty will leave you speechless.  And if you add on an exploration of a natural ice cave, then you are in for a real treat!  Lucky for you if you’re heading to Iceland, the country is full of glaciers and caves in all shapes and sizes.  But can you visit a Summer Ice Cave in Iceland is the real question?

Vatnajökull Glacier

Iceland is often called the land of fire and ice, due to the sheer amount of volcanoes and glaciers in the country.  After all, Vatnajökull Glacier is the largest glacier in the country.  To illustrate, it covers 10% of the country’s surface.  Also, a fun fact too is that it’s not only Iceland’s largest but it’s also the second-largest glacier in Europe.  Furthermore, to divulge where it is… It is situated in the South East part of the country, and covers 7,900 km² (or 3,050 square miles), with an average thickness of 380 meters (1,250 feet).  Meanwhile, this fabulous place is also where we base our Ice Pic Journeys glacier operations from too!

How are Icelandic Glacier Outlets Formed?

A glacier is formed on land when a large mass of snow has been compressed into ice so dense and thick that it stays there all year round.  First, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t change in size, glaciers can expand or retreat yearly.  Second, they are actually characterized by the fact that they are always moving under their own weight.  Third. outlet glaciers are formed when the glacier crawls forward, and are sometimes also called a “glacier tongue.” 

Fourth, you can think about a glacier this way: Imagine a cake with heavy and thick frosting on it, and more frosting being poured on top of it, then the frosting will eventually start spreading out all over.  Fifth, glaciers work in a similar way, in winter there will be a lot of snowfall, which compresses into ice and makes the glacier thicker and heavier, so it pushes ice out in all directions.

Furthermore, this is how our glacier outlet, Breiðamerkurjökull (Vatnajökull Glacier) was formed.  Additionally, this is the stunning outlet glacier that feeds the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon with icebergs.  Our IcePic Journeys offers glacier excursions to Breiðamerkurjökull, and our meeting point is next to the famed Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach.  Hello best of both worlds, right?!

Summer Ice Cave Experiences

However, the most exciting part of a glacier in Iceland is that it isn’t just hundreds of meters of solid, dense ice believe it or not.  For example, it’s also full of crevasses and cracks, with snow, ice, rocks and sediments, moulins and ice caves.  All just waiting to be explored by YOU!  The Summer ice caves are formed when the glacier melts, the water finds a path through the cracks and crevasses and carves out a glacier ice cave system within the massive body of the ice. 

Be aware this procedure is constantly happening, with the glacier changing shape continuously.  In fact, go back and check out our “How Ice Caves Evolve” post to understand this process better.  Next, small trickles of water become more and more voluminous, resulting in big rivers that run through the ice, to the ground and exit the glacier at its base.  Further, when most of the water has run its course, and the temperatures drop in wintertime, the glacier is left with various tunnels and caves in all shapes and sizes that visitors can go explore.

Meanwhile, not everyone realizes that you can actually visit a natural ice cave inside the glacier during the summertime in Iceland.  Granted, it will still have a powerful river flowing through it.  But our Ice Pic Journeys team works hard to ensure safe year round access so you can admire the blue-colored ice surrounding you. 

Note: Our Iceland Ice Caves are always changing, and when the ice melts so much that it has become too thin to carry the weight, then the roof can collapse.  Therefore it’s very important to only visit an ice cave with a certified guide that knows the area well and can spot the danger of the cave in advance.

Safety in Iceland Ice Caves

One of Ice Pic Journeys founders and guide, Mike Reid, found it such a shame that no one running tours year-round to ice caves at Vatnajökull Glacier.  So he actually dug a hole into the roof in a safe calculated place.  Then through very thick ice so that he could bring guests into the Summer ice cave. 

Further, the area is maintained daily by carving access, building paths and bridges as required.  The guide team takes pride in educating everyone they bring in as well.  Fair to says, our Ice Pic Journeys team sets, and maintains safe access into these challenging wild places!

The Blue Flame Ice Cave

Currently, the Summer Ice Cave in Iceland experience is our Blue Flame.  It can be visited on the following tours:

From the parking lot near the edge of the glacier, it is approximately a 10-minute hike or so.  Special Note: Flames or outdoor candles are not guaranteed during the tour.

In conclusion, it will feel somewhat surreal standing on the sheet of ice.  As you’ll be completely unaware of what you’re about to see.  But once you climb down a few meters, you see the ice cave in all its glory.  Incredibly stunning blue ice and sunlight somehow comes through to further dazzle you.  Maybe even a powerful river that you can well imagine having shaped this spectacle for you to witness. Truly an experience not to be missed, exploring the glacier inside and out. 

Come along with us to experience a Summer Ice Cave in Iceland!  Lastly, and if that doesn’t sound like fun try out the first and only Glacier Zipline in the World this Summer!! 

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