For such a small country--and one with a less than enticing name--Iceland sure has its fair share of must-see natural phenomena. If you've already soaked up the steamy minerals of the Blue Lagoon, head southeast to Skaftafell, a preservation area that has been incorporated into Vatnajokull National Park, largely for its jaw-dropping glacial contents, which are highlighted by the Crystal Cave of Svmnafellsjvkull.
Created by the unparalleled forces of the Vatnajvkull ice cap, the Crystal Cave emerged as a result of its glacier meeting the Icelandic coastline. The cave's ice dates back centuries, and its weight has pressed out all remnant air, so the resultant formation's texture and colors are both brilliant and otherworldly. Access is via a 22-foot entrance at the water's edge, though height clearance tapers down to only about 4 feet at the far end, about 150 feet in.
Go to the Crystal Cave of Skaftafell If....
You don't live with--and, really, have never even been on a date with--claustrophobia. You're active, physically fit, and looking for Mother Nature to once again school you on why she's the Grand Master of life. You love climbing--either rock or ice.
Crystal Cave of Skaftafell Highlights
- The snap, crackle, pop sounds visitors can hear the cave makes as it moves along with the Vatnajvkull glacier.
- Blue Ice. It isn't always visible. When layers of snow and frost build up on the glacier's surface, it takes a good rain to wash it away and buff to glistening splendor the brilliant hues of indigo and aquamarine.
- The National Park. Originally, Skaftafell was its own national park, but was folded into the larger Vatnajokull National Park in 2008. Additional park wonders, covering 2,884 square miles, include the mountain Kristinartindar, the valley Morsardalur, and the 40-foot waterfall Svartifoss. Landscape imagery is very similar to parts of the Alps, but Iceland's beauty has the luxury of having been formed by different influences of fire and water due to its volcanic and glacial presence.
- Adventure Tours. Whether it's a day-long hike, or multi-day, full-on trek-and-camp combo, Iceland's second largest national park doesn't disappoint with its tour options.
- The Weather. Surprisingly, Skaftafell has a fairly agreeable climate, full of sunny summer days that are uncommon in the south of Iceland.
Best Time to Go to the Crystal Cave of Skaftafell
October through May for ice climbing and winter activities. May to mid-September for rock climbing and the fruits of summer trekking. The ideal time to rock climb in the Vatnajokull National Park is mid-July.
- Crystal Cave of Svmnafellsjvkull: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2078058/Worth-wait-Breath-taking-snaps-deep-blue-cave...
- Hiking & Trekking in Iceland: http://www.mountainguides.is/
- Vatnajokull National Park: http://www.summitpost.org/skaftafell-national-park/358779
- Skaftafell, General Information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skaftafell
- The Culture of Iceland: http://www.travelnet.is/culture/
- Where to Stay in Skaftafell: http://www.glacierguides.is/Practicalinformation/Accommodation/
- Multi-Day Adventure Tours in Skaftafell and on Vatnajokull: http://www.glacierguides.is/MultiDayTrips/