The Mesmerizing Lofthellir Cave
Iceland is full of natural attractions. The unique and beautiful places waiting for you around each corner. The Northern Lights light up the dark, winter sky and Midnight Sun makes it perfect for long hiking trips. There are unlimited amounts of waterfalls, geysers and powerful glaciers. Askja attracts thousands of tourists who are willing to step on the volcanic field to see the most famous caldera in this area. There is also something really special for those who are fascinated by the tour beneath the surface. I am talking about the caving tour!
Iceland is full of ice and lava caves which you can find all around the island. Lofthellir lava cave is one of the most famous and worth visiting. We will look closer at this cave, how to get there and how the tour around this cave looks like.
Lofthellir lava cave in Iceland
Let’s start with a bit of a definition what a lava cave is and how it is created. Long story short, this is a natural tunnel which was formed by lava beneath the earth’s surface. During a volcano’s eruption, lava flows out of the crater and begin to flow.
The lava caves, which look like tunnels, are formed when lava of low viscocity solidfies on the surface while it still flows in the interior. With lava is getting cooled down, the walls of the tunnel keep getting thicker. The ongoing flow can cause the lower rocks to melt. This is why the lava caves only appear on the volcanic islands like Iceland. It’s the land of Fire and Ice. Lava caves are relatively poorly known despite the fact that they are a common phenomenon in many parts of the world although it starts becoming more and more popular in Iceland.
The Lofthellir lava cave was discovered in the eighties after an earthquake which took place in this part of Iceland. The pilot from a plane who was flying just above this are noticed a huge hole in the ground. It was the roof of the cave which was destroyed after the earthquake.
Lofthellir lava cave is an extraordinary one due to the largest natural ice formations. I should warn you that the cave is narrow and I do not recommend it for those who suffer from claustrophobia and people who have other medical conditions which could endanger your health. In any case, please inform your tour guide so he can react appropriately in case anything happens or you do not feel well. For those who did not know what I am talking about, claustrophobia is an irrational fear of being in closed, narrow and small rooms like elevators, caves etc. It is a fear of getting stuck and not being able to get out. Now you know why the tour is not suitable for people with claustrophobia.
Lofthellir lava cave tour
In order to be able to enjoy this underground world, you should purchase a tour to go to the cave. The tour starts from Myvatn or Akureyri, so in the North of Iceland. So if you are planing to visit Myvatn and the surroundings, this is a great starting point for your tour. The road is really bumpy so be prepared for a bit of an uncomfortable ride. Driving on gravel roads is challenging. However you can admire beautiful views from your car window. You will be able to see the Hverfell volcano, a row of volcanic craters before getting to the base of the Mt. Hvanfell.
Make sure you wear comfortable hiking boots because here you start a bit of a trekking, around a 20-minute walk till you reach the cave. This is not a tour for very experienced hikers and is suitable for young children. You will pass an old forest until you finally get to the lava field where you can already experience a bit of the volcanic side of Iceland. Finally you get to the entrance to the lava cave. As soon as you enter down to the cave you will be amused by the colors and the ice formations. The cave itself is 350 meters long and is available all year long even during the winter.
To get inside the cave the guests need to crawl through a very narrow entrance. Don’t worry! The guide will be a help here and will tell you exactly what to do! You will also be equipped with spikes and wellies to make it easier for you.
Remember not to touch the ice formations which took years to be created! You will for sure be amazed by the powerful sculpture from the ground right to the top of the ceiling but keep calm. Take a photo, but no touching! There is especially one chamber which you will enjoy. It is full of ice sculptures of different sizes. It is a really magical place. Worth every effort you made to reach this spot.
In some of the places in the cave the lava went down to the floor creating a colorful rocks contrasting with the cold ice sculptures which only add charm to the place. The walls and ceilings covered with lava have lots of colors of red, orange, yellow which is a really breathtaking view.
The temperature inside the cave is around 0 ºC degrees so make sure you wear warm clothes because it might get a bit chilly. Expect ice and water while sliding on the ropes so we do recommend you get a waterproof coat. Getting wet and cold there would only ruin the fun and the experience.
The floor of the cave is covered with ice and you should walk sideways so the spikes on the wellies are more stable.
Remember to book the tour in advance so you make sure you get the place on the date you really wish to. Get comfortable shoes, gloves, waterproof warm jacket, and gloves. Make sure you have some water on you as well in case you get thirsty. We would not want you try eating the ice sculptures, remember that took decades for some of them to be created!
The mesmerizing Lofthellir cave
All of the Icelandic lava caves which you will decide to explore have their own charm and beauty. It might give you a feeling of surrealism and there will be moments you will not believe that it was all created by Mother Nature. Lofthellir lava cave is one of the best and most challenging ones you will ever see. It is indeed mesmerizing and you should definitely put it on your bucket list.