Sapphire, the new Crystal Ice Cave, but much better!
What are Ice Caves?
Glacial Caves or Ice Caves like the Crystal Ice Cave are natural formations created mostly by glacial melt water. The forces at play on a glacier are of gigantic proportions, as the huge slabs of compressed and dense ice moves due to it’s own weight, it sometimes conforms to the natural environment creating crevasses and sometimes it changes the environment below and around it completely. Ice caves are not a new phenomenon, however, it is only in recent days that people started going and exploring these natural wonders.
There are a few different ways in which ice caves are formed, one this does remain a constant, it is water which carves these glacial caves. Since water even at low temperatures is much warmer than ice, as it travels through the glacier or onto the glacier it slowly melts the ice. Ice caves are simply waterway systems of the glacier. Sometimes a series of moulins might join to create a larger network or singular tunnel for water to travel through, which eventually reaches the edge of the glacier, however, sometimes it can be the environment around the glacier causing the water to rush into the glacier. An example of this might be a waterfall falling from a mountain onto the glacier, slowly melting a tunnel for the water to travel through.
What is the Crystal Ice Cave, and why was it so popular?
The “Crystal Ice Cave” was one of Iceland’s first cave to be visited by tourists, and while the glacier melts, moves, and changes quickly this cave managed to stay accessible during winter months for many years, but as all good things must come to an end, the Crystal Ice Cave has collapsed and is no longer accessible. To be honest, we like this and we will explain why soon.
The Crystal Ice Cave was indeed a beautiful natural wonder, with an array of glacial blue and sometimes green hues, the name was actually quiet accurate. You could at times see many meters into the ice, and it was so blue that taking photos inside it turned your face blue due to the reflecting blue light.
Why are we happy that it is no longer accessible? The cave was very easy to access, as in most cases Crystal ice cave was at the edge of a glacier, however, this glacier had a road leading straight to the ice cave. Meaning that it became extremely easy to access and therefore attracted huge crowds. The type of crowds you see at a NYE firework show, well maybe in Iceland. Over the years new caves have been discovered and they require special equipment to reach such as extremely modified vehicles, and often require a lot of walking over not so easy terrain. This means that the caves do not get anywhere near as busy as the famous Crystal.
What makes the Sapphire Ice Cave so special?
A picture tells a thousand words, so feel free to scroll to the galley down below. But it is not only the beauty of this cave which makes it special, but also the location. Now we have to use modified 4×4 vehicles to reach the cave, but we also need to walk at least 1 hour to just reach the cave. Due to this, the tours are more spread out and as a result the cave see’s much less visitors in comparison to the Crystal Ice Cave.
The Sapphire Ice Cave is also unique due to its formation. In the middle of the cave lies a huge moulin, splitting the cave in 3 main “rooms”, this offers unique angles to get amazing photos, but also due to the thickness of the ice in the front roof of the ice cave, it is very normal to see very contrasting colors between the different parts of the cave. From light hues of green to deep blues, and at times diamond blacks, this cave is really a natural wonder.
The Sapphire Ice Cave is home to some amazing details glacial architecture, from glacial dunes to ancient pockets of air trapped inside the ice, this cave truly is breathtaking.
How do I visit the Sapphire Ice Cave, what is the best time of the year to visit, and what is the best time of the day to visit?
We strongly recommend that when visiting ice caves, you book a tour with a reputable company that has professional and trained guides. We offer a in depth tour of the Sapphire Ice Cave and other glacial formation in the area. You can find more information here www.explorers.is/Ice-Cave-Exploration-Tour. The Ice Caves are typically safe and accessible only during the colder winter months, November until March, however, due to ever changing climate this can vary slightly. Once the Ice Caves are accessible and safe there is no preferred time of the year to visit, but the colder it gets, typically less people go on long tours, so this is when we have the most privacy on the glacier.
Our favorite time of the day to visit is ALWAYS the morning. If the weather permits, seeing a sunrise shinning through the glacial walls is something you will never forget. If the weather is good, book the first tour of the morning.
Want to know more, or is there something that you think we missed? You can get in contact with us on our Facebook and Instagram page, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or old fashioned phone call.