Geo Travel takes you to the heart of the Lofthellir ice cave
Embarking on an ice cave adventure in Iceland is a unique, fascinating experience and one that Geo Travel guides take great pride in. “The cave is a lava tube, but it’s different than any other lava tube in the world as it’s a permafrost ice cave,” said Anton Birgisson, co-owner of Geo Travel. “Due to a limited airflow through the cave, a microclimate exists inside the cave where you see enormous icicles that have been formed for hundreds of years.” There are daily tours to the cave year-round.
What is the tour like?
Departing from the Mývatn region, a guide begins the tour by driving through rugged and wild terrain with breathtaking landscapes, including the volcano Hverfjall and the Lúdentarborgir craters. After reaching base camp, you start a 30-minute easy guided hike across a lava field until you reach the cave. After travellers are provided with the proper equipment (helmet, headlamp and studded boots), you enter the cave and are instantly exposed to the fragility of nature. “It’s an art piece of earth,” said Anton. “There are icicles in there that are 500 years old. It’s really special to turn off the headlamps, and as the icicles melt, they play their own kind of music.”
Ensuring sustainable travel
Lofthellir is a unique cave, and it’s essential to respect and preserve it. “The cave has been there for 3,000 years, and it would be terrible for us to ruin it,” said Anton. “For us, it’s a really special place on earth. We used to take three or four trips a day to the cave, but we reduced it to one trip a day.” Indeed, only a limited number of tours are allowed, and the goal of the cave project is to offer sustainable tours and preserve it for future generations to explore. Every ticket includes a fee for the protection program and local landowners.
Assisting in cave research
The Geo Travel cave team is involved in research where Lofthellir is used to understand cave explorations on planet Mars further. “NASA is preparing for human exploration to Mars, where there are a lot of lava tubes,” said Anton. “There’s a team of researchers travelling around the world looking for a similar sister cave on Mars. We have been a part of this study for six years.”
Geo Travel is a small, family-run business with a great passion and respect for the nature they show tourists. They also offer tours to Askja, super jeep tours and snowmobile and northern lights tours in the winter.
Geiteyarströnd, 660 Mývatn