Sapphire ice cave in Iceland – A Luxury Travel Blog

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In case you haven’t heard concerning the ‘Sapphire’ ice collapse Iceland but, you’ll when you arrive. It’s price coming to Iceland for that cause alone. Add within the Northern Lights, a snowy panorama and a distant location (excellent for social distance holidays) and you’ve got an unbelievable journey awaiting you.

So this weblog publish is extra of a love letter to Iceland’s now ‘most well-known’ ice cave (above). An ice cave that, regardless of the trials of a heat summer time and the results of local weather change, has survived for two successive winters. It is a uncommon prevalence, belief me. I had the pleasure, as an area tour information, of attending to discover this ice cave each seasons and examine it up shut and private.

And I’m right here to say, based mostly on all the things I’ve seen in each years, I’m quietly assured that the Sapphire Ice Cave will probably be right here for a 2021/22 season too. Meaning if this winter (2020/21) is slightly too early so that you can get to Iceland you should still get to see this marvel of nature subsequent winter.

It is a daring assertion. Extra daring than you can know, I promise you. I’ll do my greatest to elucidate beneath, in addition to present you some unbelievable photos that can assist you perceive my enthusiasm.

Btw, I’m not a scientist by any stretch of the creativeness however I did minor in Physics at College and have had a fascination with glaciers, volcanoes and science typically my complete life. I’m additionally knowledgeable glacier information by commerce. I’ve run excursions to numerous ice caves throughout Iceland and have had the honour of being the primary to find just a few myself (lengthy melted away now). So to say I’ve an understanding of the method through which an ice cave is fashioned could be an understatement.

What’s an ice cave?

The Sapphire ice cave is rather like some other ice cave that one of the best tour operators take clients to in Iceland. Huge, blue, lovely and distant. But it surely differs in a single key manner, it survived the summer time!

You may be scratching your head proper now pondering, “However aren’t glaciers hundreds of years previous?” and concurrently, “If an ice cave is a part of a glacier, doesn’t that imply these are historical constructions too?”

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It’s a superb thought course of. Glaciers in Iceland are a whole bunch or hundreds of years previous. BUT, they’re always shifting. They’re additionally always melting. In truth, the ice you see flowing on a glacier (at very gradual speeds) is often just a few hundred years previous. That’s as a result of snow accumulation on the tops of the mountains substitute the ice that melts away every winter. As the worldwide temperature continues to rise, the melting ice is disappearing sooner than recent snow can substitute it, therefore why glaciers are disappearing around the globe.

So if an ice cave is fashioned inside a glacier that’s always shifting and melting it’s unlikely that they may grasp round for very lengthy.

Usually an ice cave is fashioned when ice in the summertime melts and erodes the remaining ice round it. As the nice and cozy water cuts deep into the ice over these sunny months they kind cavities within the glacier. Then, as soon as the winter comes and the melting slows down, the holes that had been fashioned from the melting are emptied out and a brand new construction is left behind (an ice cave). Relying on the ferocity of the water circulate and the angle that it hits the ice will depend upon the form and measurement of the ice cave that’s left behind.

The beneath picture is a very effectively formed ice cave to indicate this course of from 2017. You’ll be able to see the ripples and impact of the water, abandoning an virtually ribcage like cave. It lasted one winter season solely.

How do we discover this 12 months’s ice cave?

Some ice caves are cathedral sized arch methods. Some are snake like tunnels. And a few are enclosed holes that open up when you get inside them. The Sapphire ice cave intently resembles the latter.

The unhappy factor is that these unbelievable beauties not often final very lengthy. Particularly now that local weather change is making the winters hotter and wetter. Nearly with out fail an ice cave will soften or collapse within the continuing summer time. In truth, within the 2017/18 winter the ‘Treasure Island’ ice cave didn’t even survive the entire winter (see beneath). It collapsed in lots of sections by the tip of February and a brand new ice cave needed to be discovered for the final month of exploration.

Mainly, in a nut shell, each autumn the native ice cave explorers exit in droves looking for a brand new ice cave for the upcoming winter season. Fortunately, these veterans are good at what they do and often discover one thing. What they discover is at all times a query mark although.

Will it’s as huge as final years? Will it’s as blue? Is it simple to get to for vacationers? These are questions that hang-out the tour operators in Iceland who hope to promote excursions to those momentary wonders. So you may think about my elation when the Sapphire Ice Cave survived from one winter to the subsequent. It’s huge, it’s blue and it is vitally accessible, even for these with solely reasonable health ranges. A welcome respite from all of the dangerous information of 2020.

Why is the Sapphire Ice Cave totally different?

In brief, it isn’t totally different.

Similar to my description above, the Sapphire ice cave was fashioned from flowing summer time soften water that froze over in winter, abandoning a secure arched cave. Similar to above, the Sapphire ice cave was not proof against summer time melting both. And but it remained.

Was it as a result of it was so huge final 12 months that even after numerous it melted away there was nonetheless a superb cave left over? Nope!

It’s fairly just because this specific ice cave is fashioned by one thing referred to as a sub glacial channel (a river below the glacier). This ‘river’ is a circulate of water that’s an accumulation of numerous totally different cavities and crevasses with streams of water becoming a member of up in the identical location. So in contrast to many different ice caves, this sub glacial channel could be very more likely to proceed to forge it’s personal manner out of the entrance of the glacier every year.

That means that every summer time the soften water from the glacier goes to search out its manner out of the identical, or related, gap within the entrance of the glacier. That additionally means the encircling ice will probably be moulded and formed by it each summer time too. So even when the glacier melts heaps this summer time, it’s seemingly that the ‘new’ Sapphire ice cave will probably be fashioned just a few hundred metres behind this years. That’s what occurred this summer time in any case (see beneath for what it appeared like in 2019/20).

Don’t get me fallacious, the glaciers are melting at unprecedented charges. And because the glacier strikes and collapses these sub glacial channels can dry up or discover a new route. Nonetheless, the placement of this specific ice cave additionally lends a serving to hand to its longevity. Particularly, it’s close to a mountain facet. The mountain forces the glacier ice to maneuver in the identical manner every year (the mountain warps the ice) so the substitute ice is more likely to act in the identical manner every year. This (hopefully) means that the Sapphire Ice Cave will probably be right here subsequent winter too!

That’s till the glacier disappears fully in that space in fact.

Sapphire Ice Cave 2022/23

I say that final assertion with a pang of despair as it’s a notion that’s turning into all too acquainted in my line of labor. There was a really related ice cave referred to as the ‘Crystal Ice Cave’ (see beneath) that was fashioned in the very same manner however on the other facet of the glacier. The locals rejoiced that that they had discovered a quasi-permanent fixture for ice cave season every year. Each summer time, the water flowed by means of a sub glacial channel and each winter it left behind an exquisite blue ice cave. Nonetheless, in 2016, after virtually 10 years of devoted service this ice cave disappeared too.

The chilly exhausting reality is the glacier had simply melted a lot within the earlier years that there was merely not sufficient ice in that space to create a brand new ice cave once more, no matter water circulate. If I’m trustworthy, I used to be devastated to be taught it had gone for good.

So these days we’ve jumped to the other facet of the glacier the place the ice remains to be current. This specific glacier is dozens of kilometres broad btw and has a lagoon within the center to deal with so regardless of all of the melting, there’s loads of glacier ice to discover.

Within the yesteryears, we might have been foolhardy and introduced that the Sapphire Ice Cave was now ‘the’ ice cave to go to and put it up for sale accordingly every year. Sadly these days are over.

So after I say that I imagine the Sapphire Ice Cave will probably be there for a third consecutive winter season (2021/22) I can guarantee you, it’s a daring assertion. I used to be even tempted to not publish this text, as my colleagues and mates will name me out on my crystal ball strategy to predicting subsequent years ice caves. However, I’m assured that we are going to see yet another 12 months of this epic ice cave. Fingers crossed!


I suppose my conclusion is that in order for you a assured ice cave that’s huge, blue, lovely and simple to entry then get your butt to Iceland as quickly as you may. This winter (2020/21) may be too early however 2021/22 stands out as the excellent likelihood for you. You by no means know, it could be the final time we get a cave this particular and simple to get to.

See you there!

Ryan Connolly is Co-Founding father of Hidden Iceland. Hidden Iceland specialises in personal journeys, taking you to a number of the hidden gems of Iceland with a passionate and skilled information.

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