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Sunday, June 25, 2017

4 Jun 2017 - Iceland Day 10: Vatnshellir Cave

Just a short 5 mins drive from Djúpalónssandur Beach, we arrived at Vatnshellir Cave.  There are guided tours running every hour into the lava cave during summer.
There were limited parking lots and we were fortunate to get one when a car left.  Otherwise, we will probably have to wait for the people in the current tour to leave.
We had a nice view of Snæfellsjökull Glacier here and the point structure below is the entrance to the lava cave.
Helmets and flash lights were supplied to us before going into the cave.  We were ready to go!
At the start of the tour, the guide gave us a short briefing on what to expect in this tour.  There are two main sections inside the lava cave. This 8000 year old lava tube reaches over 200 meters and goes 35 meters below the surface.
After the briefing, we embarked on a journey into the center of the earth by going down a spiral staircase.
The moment we were inside the cave, we began to understand why everyone is provided with a flash light.  Those flash lights were the only light source inside the cave, which was unlike all the other caves tours that we went in the past.
The upper section has great features and unique formations of lava statues curved on the sides of the lava tube.
The lower part of the lava cave, which can be reached by a long and narrow staircase, takes us deep down underground to a place which was hidden from the outside world for thousands of years
At one point, the tour guide gathered everyone around and instructed us to turn off our flash lights and keep silence.  In the total darkness of the lava cave, most sense shut down and the sense of smell becomes dominant.  Inside this deep underground lava tube, there is absolutely no sound.  It was really a very unique experience and reminded me of our adventurous "self-guided" expedition into an abandoned silver mine in Tasmania about 1.5 years ago.
The cave itself is an 8000 year old lava tube created by volcanic eruption from a nearby crater in the Purkhólar crater family. As the lava rushed down the hill in a lava river it began to cool on the surface, creating a crust on top of the lava river. As the eruption stopped, all the lava from underneath this crust continued to drain out. That eventually left behind empty tube with roof on top that gradually cooled down.
The tour duration is about 45 mins to an hour and we returned to the surface through the same way where we went down.
Right next to Vatnshellir Cave entrance, there is a shallow cave where we can enter to explore. Initially no one wanted to go but the moment I took the lead to go in, a few others followed. :-)
Nothing special about this mini cave though.
We then went back to the ticket office to return our helmets and flash lights.
Next it's another short 3 mins drive to Snæfellsjökull Visitor Center.

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