I’m so excited to finally be heading to Iceland! Emma and I have been planning and talking about this trip for so long, it’s hard to believe it’s finally here. I spend the morning working (a 5am conference call means I’ve worked almost a full day by the time we leave at noon) while Emma drives up from Salem, OR after only a few hours of sleep. She’s a bartender and works late nights, so I’m sure this early morning isn’t easy for her! We take the train down to the airport and have the obligatory pre-flight beers. I mean, it will help us sleep, right?
The flight is about 7 hours and passes quickly. We land at 645am and get in line for the FlyBus into the city. It’s a bit confusing, but since we pre-purchased our tickets, we head straight outside to get in line for the next bus. We spend about 10 minutes in the cold before we’re able to get on, then another 15 or so waiting for the bus to be full enough to leave. It takes us to the main bus station and the driver tells us that everyone who isn’t going to one specific hotel needs to get off and a shuttle will take us to our hotel. While we’re waiting, one of the drivers at the station asks us what hotel we’re going to, and when we tell him, he says, “Oh, you shouldn’t have gotten off the bus that brought you here!” Oh man!! I run around trying to figure out how to get to our hotel and finally we’re sent out to a shuttle. But we only have less than 20 minutes to get to our hotel before we’re supposed to get picked up for our first adventure. We arrive right at 9am, check in and put our luggage in storage, just as the guide arrives to collect us. Wow that was close!
After picking up a few more people, we make our way out into what feels like the middle of nowhere to get ready to explore the lava cave. I’m not sure what to expect, but I kind of assume it will be a cave that we walk in to in one of these mountains around us.
We’re all kitted out with helmets and traction spikes. The warm clothes and waterproof pants are our own, though boots, pants and jackets are all available to rent if needed.
Even though I’m really tired, I’m so excited to be here! It’s Iceland and it’s covered in snow and ice. It’s so beautiful!
Once everyone is ready, we set off towards the middle of the snowy field.
Shortly, we arrive at a hole in the ground. That’s how we’re getting into this cave?
Our guide sets up a rope for us to use to get in and out of, and explains what to expect.
Then we’re sliding down, down, down into the lava cave.
Fortunately once we get through the narrow opening, the cave opens and we can stand up fully.
Our guide starts by telling us how the cave came into existence and how long they’ve been here. Spoiler alert – not as long as you would think. Iceland is one of the youngest landmasses on the planet, being only 16-18 million years old.
Now it’s time to head further into the cave. Wait for me everyone!
There’s many reasons Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice. This cave may have been created by fiery lava, but today it’s full of these really cool icicles.
At one of our next stops, our guide explains that the walls of the cave are very soft and often crumble at the slightest touch. But the colors are magnificent!
There are some tricky parts of this cave to navigate through. Emma demonstrates by doing push ups. Because why not?
At the furthest point we’re going to in the cave, we come across the remains of an animal. Apparently a goat fell down here 100-something years ago and somehow managed to wander all this way in the pitch black. I can’t even imagine!
As we head back towards the entrance, our guide has everyone turn off their lights so we sit in total, complete darkness. It’s a really weird sensation as I keep expecting my eyes to adjust, but nothing. Just absolute darkness. Emma and I talk to each other and knowing she’s right next to me but being unable to see her is a bit unnerving. We spend about 5 minutes like this, then switch our lights back on. It’s almost a shock to be able see again!
A couple in our group comment on how light the volcanic stone is.
Back towards the entrance, we take a side tunnel to see some of the biggest icicles in this cave. They’re as big as a tree trunk in some places!
Back at the entrance (literally the light at the end of the tunnel), the scramble to get out of the cave takes a bit of effort. One poor girl gets stuck and has to be helped through the narrow opening.
Emma passes the time by posing for the camera and taking selfies.
At last – sunlight!
I can’t believe how much we lucked out having all this sunshine on our first day.
We take our helmets and spikes off and pile back in the van to head towards the Silfra Fissure. But first, a stop at Subway for some lunch. Yep, my first meal in Iceland is Subway. That just seems wrong somehow, but I’m so hungry, I don’t even care. And I can’t wait to see the Silfra Fissure!