I’ve written about my visits to a few seasonal ice caves in Iceland, which type within the wintertime, however do you know that there’s an ice cave that’s open all yr spherical? It’s known as the Katla ice cave, situated in South-Iceland, within the Kötlujökull glacier, a ruggedly lovely icefall of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, Iceland’s fourth largest glacier.
Right here we’re within the territory of essentially the most dreaded volcano in Iceland – the subglacial Katla itself!
High photograph: inside Katla ice cave with our information from Katlatrack
Inside Katla ice cave
I acquired the chance not too long ago to go to Katla ice cave. It had been on my agenda for a yr to go to this cave and when the chance arose I jumped on it. We drove from Reykjavík metropolis to the scenic little village of Vík in Mýrdalur in South-Iceland.
The Katlatrack glacier guides picked us up of their tremendous jeeps at their assembly level at Vík (by the N1 gasoline station) proper by ring street 1. The ice cave is a 45-minute drive north of Vík by means of black volcanic sand plains from earlier eruptions of the nonetheless lively Katla volcano (i.e. we have now been ready for it to erupt).
The assembly level at Vík
Our information blasted Freeway to Hell on the radio, which I discovered to be each hilarious and becoming for the place we have been going – in direction of the infamous Katla, which most Icelanders are afraid of.
One other very lively volcano in Iceland, Mt. Hekla, earned the nickname Gateway to Hell a millennium in the past. When Mt. Hekla erupts we name it a vacationer eruption – when Mt. Katla erupts we name it a cataclysm!
Elements of Kötlujökull glacier
That’s the reason we Icelanders worry it, not that many people have witnessed it erupting although, because the final eruption occurred in 1918. However we have now heard tales…
The journey could be very scenic, by means of a ruggedly lovely panorama with extraordinary contrasts. The pitch-black lava sand and the inexperienced mountains created a spectacular scene. Quickly it was to develop into much more spectacular.
The monitor resulting in the Katla glacier
For such sandy roads, the motive force let some air out of the tremendous jeep tires (to round 12-16 psi) because it provides the tires a wider grip on the sand. The identical is completed when driving on glaciers in Iceland.
I let you know this in order that you already know what is occurring in your upcoming tour when the motive force all of the sudden disappears and begins twiddling with the tires 😉
On the best way to the ice cave
As soon as we reached the Mýrdalsjökull glacier the glacier guides supplied us with sturdy glacier crampons and helmets with headlights. One has acquired to understand the glacier crampons, they provide us such good grips on the glacier hikes and contained in the ice caves.
We now adopted the information on a brief hike to the black icefall Kötlujökull – the Katla glacier. It’s a simple hike, solely 5-7 minutes or so. We crossed a couple of creeks, with meltwater from the glacier, and in some locations, the glacier guides had fitted planks over the creeks to make it simpler for us to cross.
The doorway to Katla ice cave
Once we reached the ice cave, I instantly thought to myself that it regarded like a scene out of Sport of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. I used to be in awe simply seeing the doorway to the cave. Do not you agree with me?
See additionally my travel-blog: The Extraordinary Sport of Thrones Places I’ve visited on my Travels in Iceland
The glacier guides have carved steps into the glacier to make it simpler to ascend into the ice cave. You even have ropes to carry onto so it’s straightforward to enter the cave. As soon as inside you should have ropes and small bridges to your assist.
Inside Katla ice cave looking on the blue ice
These lovely ice caves are shaped within the glacier tongues when water from the melting glacier finds its method and carves a gap within the ice. Thus enabling us to have a uncommon peek inside. And on this occasion to stroll by means of a black and blue ice tunnel with lovely shiny ice formations.
I really like the blue ice, which is the oldest a part of the glacier. Why it’s blue in color is defined intimately by Nanna in her implausible article Ice Caves in Iceland – the Final Information. It’s a necessary examine glaciers and ice caves in Iceland for my part.
Our glacier information picked up a chunk of melting ice, shook it, and confirmed us some air bubbles trapped contained in the ice
Contained in the ice cave, you will note pitch black ash from totally different volcanic eruptions of Katla volcano by means of the centuries – ash which has been pressed into the ice and has by no means been seen earlier than.
Since the Vikings settled Iceland again in 874 (give or take a couple of years) Katla has erupted some 20 instances with the final huge eruption happening in 1918. So it have to be resulting from erupt if there’s a sample to its eruptions.
Inside Katla ice cave
The yr of the final eruption in Katla, 1918, was fairly an annus horribilis for Icelanders because it gave us an especially chilly winter, known as Frostaveturinn mikli – the Winter of the acute frost – with 27 polar bears from Greenland coming ashore!
On the similar time, the Spanish flu invaded Iceland. I as an Icelander was in awe and felt like I used to be strolling by means of a tunnel of Iceland’s historical past once I walked by means of the ice cave wanting on the previous ash from the Katla eruptions.
Ingesting the glacier – Icelandic Brennivín on the rocks – with historic ice from the glacier
Once we reached the top of the ice cave we got here out by means of one other opening – and have been greeted with a refreshing Icelandic Brennivín schnapps on the rocks! Solely the ice was age-old ice from the Kötlujökull glacier! Those that did not need alcohol have been provided water on the rocks.
I discovered it superb with the ability to drink a toast to such forces of nature and one way or the other on returning by means of the ice cave I stepped extra frivolously and fearlessly. Or perhaps it was as a result of I had the flu and the alcohol went straight to my head 😉
We spent an hour by the ice cave giving us ample time to take pictures of each angle of the cave. And you’ll take some spectacular pictures of the ice caves. My beginner pictures do not even start to indicate what skilled pictures can seem like.
In case you have a yellow coat then I might advise you to put on it throughout your go to to Katla ice cave. I wore my blue parka however seen that the most effective pictures have been of my fellow travellers who have been carrying yellow. It makes you come out of the photograph.
Yellow color stands out when visiting the ice caves
I did not know whether or not to make use of the flash or not within the ice cave, so I took pictures left and proper with flash and with out flash to see which of them would end up higher. The pictures with out the flash got here out bluer, however with flash, the ice lit up.
Most of my pictures on this travel-blog are taken with flash. The flash, alternatively, lights up the ash as effectively and makes it look brownish.
The glaciers are consistently shifting so the ice caves change yearly. In earlier travel-blogs, I’ve proven you my visits to the seasonal crystal ice caves in Breiðamerkurjökull and Fláajökull glaciers, the place the ice was blue and glowing on the times I visited them.
The employees of Information to Iceland taking in the great thing about the ice cave
Every time you go to the ice caves they are going to look totally different, so the pictures I present you listed below are simply what they regarded like on the day of my go to. You possibly can see a collection of good pictures of the ice caves at Katlatrack.
The seasonal ice caves are open from the start of November till the top of March annually and will be visited when the climate permits. We by no means know although if or the place they’re going to type.
Searching from the Katla ice
Some years essentially the most lovely ice caves type and are by no means to be seen once more. And new ones seem. So it’s all the time a brand new and thrilling expertise visiting an ice cave.
The Katla ice cave is open all yr spherical.
Icefalls transfer underneath their very own weight and calve, so the glaciers and pure glacial ice caves can’t be visited and not using a educated and skilled glacier information. We have been in tremendous good arms with the Katlatrack glacier guides.
By the doorway to Katla ice cave 🙂
By no means attempt to enter an ice cave and not using a educated glacier information, as they all the time take a look at the situation of the ice caves earlier than they enter them with a bunch. Security is of the utmost significance within the ice caves.
How the volcano Katla acquired its identify
Inside Katla ice cave
A few of our volcanoes have feminine names – perhaps as a result of they’re harmful after they erupt 😉 Icelandic folklore tells us how Katla acquired its identify.
I discovered this folklore in Þjóðsögur Jóns Árnasonar – the Assortment of Folklore of Jón Árnason, which is a compilation of folklores in 5 volumes, and translated it into English:
“It occurred as soon as upon a time that at Þykkvabæjarklaustur monastery an abbot dwelling on the monastery had a cook dinner known as Katla. She was a bad-tempered lady – she owned trousers, which have been of the character that anyone who put them on might run perpetually with out feeling drained. Katla used these trousers when wanted.
The data check in Katla Geopark – it reveals Katla working within the trousers
Folks have been afraid of her witchcraft and her temperament and even the abbot feared Katla. On the monastery, there was a shepherd by the identify of Barði. Katla would typically scold him severely if any of the sheep he was herding went lacking.
One autumn the abbot went to a feast and Katla joined him. Barði, the shepherd, was ordered to spherical up the entire sheep previous to their return. However he wasn’t capable of monitor down the entire sheep.
Contained in the Katla ice cave looking on the photographer Iurie Belegurschi making ready his drone
He then selected placing on Katla’s trousers and with the trousers, he was capable of run and discover the entire sheep. When Katla returned again house she seen that Barði had taken her trousers!
Discover extra folklore on Katla and the glacier bursts in my travel-blog about the infamous Katla
She then secretly took Barði and drowned him in a barrel of whey acid and left him there. No person knew the place Barði had disappeared to, however in a while, that very same winter the whey acid within the barrel had little by little run-out, folks heard Katla utter these phrases: “Senn bryddir á Barða” which means “Quickly Barði will seem”.
The view from Katla ice cave
Katla realized that her evilness can be uncovered and that she can be punished. She then grabbed her trousers, ran out of the monastery, and headed northwest in direction of the glacier and apparently plunged into it and was by no means to be seen once more.
However shortly after this occurred a flood burst from the glacier and headed in the route of the monastery and Álftaver.
The ice is blue, gray, and brown relying on how a lot ash there’s trapped inside it
From then on folks began believing that Katla was utilizing her witchcraft and inflicting the floods. The rift was from then on named Kötlugjá or the Rift of Katla, and the world, which this flood had destroyed, was known as Kötlusandur or the Sandplains of Katla”.
(Translated into English from Þjóðsögur Jóns Árnasonar – the Assortment of Folklore of Jón Árnason)
Above you will note components of the gorgeous Hafursey reverse the ice cave. Hafursey is a palagonite mountain standing tall on the black sandplains of Mýrdalssandur. Throughout one of many Katla eruptions, the glacial flood burst by means of a gorge in Hafursey on its method to the ocean.
Learn way more in regards to the glacial floods in my travel-blog on Katla Volcano & Kötlutangi Spit
Within the Katla eruption in 1755, some 6 males have been capable of search shelter in a collapse Hafursey with the glacier burst roaring exterior. In my abovementioned travel-blog, you possibly can learn a number of tales on what occurred to the inhabitants of this space through the glacier bursts.
Returning again to the jeeps after the thrilling expertise of visiting an ice cave
The homeowners of this space are the identical homeowners as of the historic Hjörleifshöfði, which I’ve informed you about in different travel-blogs. They gracefully enable a couple of tour operators to supply guided excursions into the Katla ice cave to indicate us its magnificence.
Below the circumstances although that or not it’s tastefully achieved and that it’s going to by no means develop into overly crowded and touristy. So that’s what we will depend on when visiting Katla ice cave 🙂
I really like travelling in tremendous jeeps and had a area day within the Katlatrack tremendous jeeps 😉
Excursions accessible by Katlatrack:
Katla Ice Cave Tour | Departure From Vík – 4 hours
Katla ice collapse 2021 – the one we visited earlier had collapsed and one other one was found shut by
The Hidden Mountains – Tremendous Jeep Tour from Vík which takes you f.ex. to Þakgil Canyon
When you resolve on visiting the Katla ice cave from Vík, then you possibly can lease a automotive in Reykjavík and drive to Vík in a few hours. It’s situated 187 km away from Reykjavík with many lovely stops on the best way.
When you select to be picked up in Reykjavík, then Katlatrack will cease by most of the sights on the south-coast on the best way to Vík. They are going to then proceed driving as much as the Kötlujökull glacier by means of the huge Mýrdalssandur sand plains.
Map from the Icelandic Land Survey
Sólheimajökull is one other glacial tongue stretching out from Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Glacier hikes are extremely popular on Sólheimajökull, which additionally sports activities a small glacial lagoon. You possibly can see what a glacier hike is like in my travel-blog:
Have a implausible time visiting the uncommon and delightful ice caves of Iceland 🙂