Photo: Ales Cesen/Shutterstock

The Katla Ice Caves Are the Most Epic Way to Explore Iceland's Wintry Beauty

Iceland
by Matador Creators Jul 20, 2023

Iceland is known for its dramatic mountains, highlands, black sand beaches, and fjords, but its ice caves (if you can believe it) tend to fly under the radar. The Katla Ice Caves in the southern part of the country are among Iceland’s coolest (literally) natural wonders. Located beneath the mighty Mýrdalsjökull glacier, these ice caves are within the volcanic caldera of Katla volcano, creating a surreal landscape where fire and ice coexist.

Getting there is a bit more difficult than simply booking your own car and hitting the road. You’ll need to take a guided tour in a Super Jeep, a vehicle specially equipped to handle the rugged and icy terrain. As you traverse the black sand plains of Mýrdalsjökull, the vast expanse of the glacier begins to unfold, a sight that is both awe-inspiring and humbling. The drive itself is an adventure, offering stunning views of Iceland’s stark, unspoiled beauty.

Reaching the entrance of the cave is when the real exploration begins. Equipped with a helmet and crampons for safety, you descend into a world of ethereal beauty. The cave’s interior is truly a spectacle, with walls of translucent ice that shimmer in hues of blue and white. The intricate patterns formed by centuries of freezing and thawing create an otherworldly ambiance that’ll make you feel like you’re beyond the Wall in Game of Thrones.

One of the special aspects of the Katla Ice Caves is their dynamic and changeable nature. The caves are formed by the geothermal heat from the Katla volcano, which causes the glacier to melt and refreeze, continuously reshaping the caves. This means that no two visits to the cave are ever the same, as the landscape is constantly evolving. It’s a great reminder of the powerful natural forces at work beneath our feet.

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