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caves of iceland

July 2021

Iceland has plenty of caves. In fact, it likely has more caves than anywhere else at this northern latitude. All caves are lava tubes, and some are fairly decorated. There are rumors of a lava tube cave with a waterfall inside, which is something of a rarity, but most lava tubes here are human-sized passage with occasional orange sections.

We met up with the Icelandic Speleological Society one cloudy summer evening to talk about caves. Cavers in Iceland are fiercely protective of cave locations, which is a good thing due to a long history of vandalism to some of the more decorated caves near Reykjavik. The better known caves have in recent years become gated, either by the cavers, or by locals who now charge ridiculously high admission prices for guided tours. No thanks.

In short, we were given some general guidance without specific directions, and spent a while wandering the cold, mossy landscape in sideways rain and near-freezing temps to find some gorgeous caves. Nothing is vertical, at least in my experience, and the caves are generally short enough and straightforward enough that even the Icelandic cavers don't use callouts.

If you go, be ready for bad weather and very sharp crawls.

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