What frozen in time wonders does the huge glacier of Vatnajökull hide?
Vatnajökull is the world’s largest glacier. Its area covers more than 9000 km2, which is almost one-tenth of the territory of Iceland. Total volume of ice territory of the glacier is about 3500 km3.
The importance of having such a storage of fresh water in the north of Europe is simply impossible to underestimate.
The white ice pack of the glacier, sparkling in the sunlight, are the most magnificent sight that one can ever imagine to see.
The magnitude of this place attracts the huge number of tourists from all over the world. Starting from 1934, the Vatnajökull glacier has been almost entirely researched.
However, even now this amazing creation of nature continues to amaze scientists and researchers. Just consider this unbelievable fact – the glacier covers seven active volcanoes.
That is why walking tours on the surface of the glacier are not as safe as it may seem at first glance, despite the fact that so many people go there. Nevertheless, it is too tempting to take a dip into the water of hot springs in the midst of unlimited ice expanses and mountain coolness. Therefore, walking tours to the glacier with experienced guides, and along the previously explored and safe routes are organized regularly.
And it is worth it! Just imagine the multiple pools of hot water in the midst of the never-ending ice fields… Everything around is covered with water vapour and looks so surreal that almost 300 kilometers to the nearest international airport in Keflavik seems like nothing to cross.
Hold on, there is more…
The ice caves inside the Vatnajökull, often called “The crystal Caves”, are some of nature’s most fascinating wonders.
The breathtaking blocks of ice hanging over the ground create an amazing feeling of freshness, frosty perfection and incomparable calmness, which embrace people every time they come here, leaving the noisy city behind.
The blue ceilings of the caves and the mysterious glow of ice make you feel like you got into a fairy tale.
Even more amazing thing is that the real beauty of the glacier caves is actually unseen to the human eye unless the ice is cracked open.
While the glacier is moving along the slopes of the mountain peaks, air bubbles, frozen in ice, burst outward, increasing the size of ice crystals, thus making the ice transparent. Thus, the real beauty, having been created by nature for centuries, is hidden from the eyes.
There is also the highest peak of the country – an ice-covered volcano called Öræfajökull. The height of it is 2107 meters above sea level.
A bit of warning
Before you set your mind on going to the ice caves of Vatnajökull…
Summer and spring tours are unsafe, because at this time of year the ice is actively melting and the glacier moves faster. Some of the ice caves even get destroyed in warm seasons.
The new ice caves appear every fall and, obviously, the safest time to explore the Vatnajökull caves is in winter.
The downside of this story is that the climate is constantly changing and global warming is real. It inevitably affects the glaciers. Every year researchers report that the huge ice giants are melting. If you want to witness one of the nature’s wonders, you’d better be hurry…