Vatnjökull Ice Caves
The ice caves under the Vatnjökull glacier are the real deal. These are caves sculpted by melt water during the Summer months. The walls and ceiling are carved by glacier rivers. There is no human involvement. These are not machine built tunnels.
Ice caves are generally found near glaciers and conveniently they are usually at the edges of glaciers which means that if you have a Jeep with big tyres it can be possible to drive close to them. They are notoriously dangerous and have claimed the lives of many people who have made the wrong decision to enter them. For this reason, our tours always use Highly experienced Glacier Guides who spend many hours accessing the safety of a cave before entering.
On the right you can see an Ice-cave guide asking a group to wait while we finish our photography. Ice caves have become very popular and it is common to have over 30 people at a time.
Tours & workshops with Ice-caves (Nov-March)
2 day Jökulsarlon – only if it can be arranged on the 2nd morning.
3 day South Coast & Jökulsarlon – shared & private.
FlyTour – Jökulsarlon – Do it in a day!
Winter workshop with Tony Prower – Nov, Jan, Feb & March.
Winter workshop with Skarpi – Late Oct & Jan.
The majority of ice caves that we visit are under the Vatnjökull Glacier in South East Iceland. It is the shear size of the glacier which enables access to many points along the edge of the glacier. There is a famous ice-cave on the North edge at Kverkfjöll, but due to recent Volcanic activity, this area could be out of bounds for some time. It is normally only accessible in the Summer and these caves have claimed the most lives. Please ask at the mountain hut if access is safe.
Ice caves are forged by glacier rivers and sometimes the rivers can fill the entire cave if there is enough melt water in warmer weather. It is the movement of the river that carve the beautiful scalloped walls in the cave. In the Winter months the glacier river will recede allowing access to the Ice-Caves.
Photo tips, take a tripod because some images require long exposures in areas deep in the cave without much light. Think up-side-down in terms of composition and look for the foreground in the walls or ceiling. Polariser filters can have interesting results. Try to include a well placed human to show the scale.
Ice Cave adventures
These ice caves tours are more adventurous than the Crystal cave tours (see below) and take twice as long. These Ice Cave Adventure tours are recommended for photography because they run with smaller groups and so the caves they visit are less crowded. These ice cave tours can be physically demanding so please check details before booking.
The ice cave tour is refundable if it is cancelled because of weather conditions or safety issues. The ice cave tour is between 5 – 7 hours. We meet at Hali Country Hotel, 13 km east of Jökulsárlón. The tour is guided by a trained glaciers and ice cave guide. The ice cave tour involves 25 – 30 minutes of driving and 45 – 90 minutes of hiking. We will be in the cave around 1 hour. Please note that the hiking on this tour is in the Icelandic nature and this involves gravel, uneven ground and sometimes on a glacier.
- Availability: 09:00
- Meeting point: Hali Country Hotel reception
- Area: South East Iceland
- Level: Medium – Hard
- Group max: 8 people
- Duration: 5-7 hours
Tour includes a ride in a Super Jeep with a local glacier guide.
The tour goes to one ice cave that is chosen each day according to conditions. These ice caves are challenging to access. We offer it as a personal tour for our guests with a max 8 persons in a group.
How much hiking can you expect during the tour?
The hike is around 3 km one way to the cave. So in total, it is around 6 km during the trip. Part of it, around 2 km (4 km in total) can be on glaciated terrain were crampons and other glacier equipment is necessary. The other part is on a rocky and sometimes uneven terrain.The terrain might be totally or partly covered with snow or slippery ice where the micro spikes we give you come in handy.
It is not allowed to fly drones during the tour.
Ice cave tour includes
What we give you to carry. Some gear might be left behind dependent on conditions.
- Helmet with headlamp (always)
- Crampons for the glacier (sometimes)
- Walking harness (sometimes)
- Ice axe (sometimes)
- Rubber boots (sometimes)
- Microspikes (sometimes)
- Woolen socks
- Waterproof hiking boots with ankle support (can be rented from us)
- Base layer- wool or synthetic (no cotton!)
- Hiking trousers softshell (no jeans!)
- Waterproof trousers
- Long sleeve layer wool or synthetic (no cotton!)
- Fleece or similar
- Warm fleece or warm jacket
- Waterproof jacket
- Gloves (two pairs)
- Hat/beanie that works under a helmet (no pompom)
- Balaclava or neck gaiter.
- Backpack -with space for your equipment, camera, food and drink for the day.
- Food for 6 hours tour & non alcoholic drink
This is a trip to a beautiful ice cave with the most experienced ice cave guides in Iceland. There could be other tours coming with like minded people. If we need to wait for the cave to be free, we will because we have lots of time.
- Duration: 7 hours
- Difficulty : Moderate
This ice cave adventure starts with a glacier hike on Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. This breathtaking scenic glacier hike to the ice cave offers magical views of the the Glacier Lagoon at Jökulsárlón. See how the glacier calves into the Glacier Lagoon. This tour offers a totally unique angle of this amazing natural phenomenon and explores Iceland’s unique ice caves.
These ice cave excursions are run by experienced and certified glacier guides.
- Duration:6 hours
- Physical difficulty level: Challenging
- Please note:Minimum age of passengers is: 16
Book your ice cave tour directly from Local suppliers.
Crystal ice cave tours
These tours are to the popular Crystal Ice Cave. The Crystal ice cave is easy to access as the vehicles can drive very close to the entrance. There are many companies running tours to the crystal ice caves so this ice cave can become very crowded. Please see the Ice Cave Adventure tours further down the page for more isolated ice caves.
East Iceland Getting to these ice caves is not easy. The tours usually leave from the car park at Jökulsarlon or from nearby hotels. The caves are around 400km from Reykjavik. They are best visited on a Multi-day photo tour or self drive including local hotels.