Doing an Ice Caving tour was high on our to-do list when visiting Iceland, but we thought that because our trip was in the summer months the activity would be unavailable.
Surely the ice caves would melt when the weather was warmer?
Our initial searches did confirm this was mostly a winter activity. But, we were pleasantly surprised to find ice-caving tours still taking place out of the town of Vik on the south coast of Iceland.
Table of Contents
Ice Cave Tour Operators
We booked our tour through Extreme Iceland and the whole experience was top notch!
The size of the group was not too big for things to move slowly, and the tour guide was happy to chat and answer questions along the way.
He was also very patient with us taking pictures at some of the best spots on the adventure.
We also managed to book our tour just two days before arriving, which was lucky considering it was the middle of the summer peak season.
You have two options when booking your tour.
Given that Vik was right in the middle of our south coast Iceland road trip itinerary, we went with this option.
There are so many other great landmarks on this stretch of coast that you would miss out on so much if you were rushing to fit everything into one day.
On the day trip, you have two additional stops which are both spectacular in their own right! But again, having the freedom to spend more time here is worth it if you can:
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
- Skogafoss Waterfall (we spent the night before our tour at the camping ground here)
The Ice Caving Experience
On arrival we were greeted with free coffee and WIFI while we waited for our tour guide to load us into the giant Super Jeep.
This thing was like a monster truck and built to go off-road!
Not long into the drive, we turned onto a dirt road with deep tire tracks carved into the dark ash that blankets the surrounding area.
And as those mountains approach you are met with a blend of deep black mountain faces and lush green hills that sit opposite each other with this black no man’s land in between – which we were driving down.
After following the Ring Road for the last few days it was intimidating to be headed straight into this unusual mountainous terrain that we had never seen before.
Anh and I were both a little nervous, but excited.
Scaling the Glacier
On arrival, we were given a set of crampons to attach to our shoes that would give us that grip on the ice.
Plus a helmet of course – you never know what might fall off a melting ice cave!
As we walked away from the jeep we were expecting that we would just approach an opening of a cave to start our descent…. Wrong.
First, you have to climb up into the glacier.
This looked steep at first and some of our tour mates made this climb look harder than it was. With the crampons and the rope attached, it was pretty easy to scale the face. But you do have to be careful…. It is an icy mountain after all.
As we approached the lip of the glacier we got our first look at the massive cauldron of ice that awaited us on the other side.
This thing was enormous! And a site I was not expecting.
If we stopped there and went home the tour would have been worth it… But we still had a cave to explore.
The journey from there towards the cave opening was an easy walk but you had to be aware of your surroundings.
One of our tour mates very nearly stood on a ledge of dirt to pose for a photo that would have collapsed the second he stood above what was a hollow underside.
There was one section where we had to walk across a ladder bridging a gap where the ice had melted away.
This reminded me of what you see in the Everest movie…. But on a much smaller scale, with no endless crevasse underneath.
The gap was probably three meters wide. The tour guide told us that just days earlier when he was last there the gap was no more than a foot.
He went on to say that the place looks very different every time he brings a tour group with the ice constantly melting and moving.
Descending into the Ice Cave
The entrance was a big oval-shaped hole in a deep corner of this icy cauldron.
My first impressions were that this was going to be pretty amazing, but unfortunately being inside the cave was a bit of an anti-climax.
We got into a single file and followed a rope that led us into the darkness. It was short-lived with the cave being fairly shallow and it was not long until we came out the other side.
But, as we walked towards the light we were met with an amazing dark ice feature that looked to have only a few more days in it until it would melt away and collapse.
This was the highlight of the tour and a stunning sight.
And with that, we turned around and walked back the way we came.
Tips for your Ice Caving Adventure
1. Bring Waterproof Gloves!
The rope that you use to scale the glacier is damp and filthy. Neither of us had suitable gloves so went with bare hands.
This meant very cold and dirty hands.
It won’t ruin your day but for some basic comfort, some tough waterproof gloves will do this trick.
2. Watch Where You Stand
As mentioned, one of the others on our tour very nearly had a nasty fall through no real fault of his own.
You really need to be careful where you walk and remember that posing for a photo near any ledge is probably a bad idea.
3. Leave Time for Lunch
The pickup and drop-off location has a restaurant called The Soup Company.
After being surrounded by ice all morning a hot bowl of soup sounded inviting, and it was sensational!
It comes with unlimited self-serve bread which is almost as good as the soup itself.
4. Also Check out the Icelandic Lava Show
In the same building is a live show the Lava Show which takes place regularly throughout the day.
This is a one of a kind experience and the only place in the world you can get up close to hot molten lava.
The only thing that could have made this experience better was to be in a deeper cave. Which we can only assume is more of a winter experience.
So when we return to Iceland in the colder months this will be top of our list to experience again. Only better equipped this time… with proper gloves!!
We loved it and couldn’t recommend this enough.