Ice Caves and Riding Icelandic Horses

Friday, August 23, 2013

After making our final stop in Höfn, a fishing town in the south-eastern part of Iceland, we turned around and headed back the way we came along the southern coast. We had to stop at Jökulsárlón again to see the icebergs, and this time walked on the coast to watch the icebergs float out into the open ocean. The black sand beach was littered with huge chunks of white and blue ice that had washed ashore, and it looked like some sort of sci-fi crash site. 

We really wanted to see ice caves, but didn't realize you need to go with a guide in order to see them (and doing anything with a guide is a last resort for Yuriy). Ice caves are formed when the glacier melts, so the caves are always changing and in new spots every year. When we finally called to make a reservation, the guide was all booked out and we were super bummed. We decided to look for them on our own (not recommended because ice caves can collapse), and spent most of the day hiking around the Vatnajökull glacier off the beaten path, looking for caves and anything cool. We didn't find anything huge, but saw some small ice caves on the outer edge of the glacier and felt pretty satisfied (if you're in Iceland though, I would recommend booking an ice caves tour early).

Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Europe by volume. The average thickness of the ice is 1300 feet and the thickest part is 3300 feet! It was mind boggling to walk on this solid block of ice that's been frozen for thousands of years and stretches as far as the eye can see. The ice cap sits on top of 3 active volcanoes, which slowly melt the underside of the ice and can cause glacial melt floods. If you look at Iceland from space, Vatnajökull is the big white mass on the lower right corner of the island. There is so much to learn and explore in this country!

Closer to town, we spent an early morning horse back riding at sunrise surrounded by beautiful Icelandic countryside and mountains. We wore full body suits provided by the rental company, and still had numb fingers. Yuriy galloped for the first time on a horse and we both wished more mornings could start this way.

We have just a couple more posts coming up... exploring the Golden Circle with new friends from Canada, and visiting the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa before catching our flight home.

- Julia

Our last road trip stop before turning around was in Höfn, which means "Harbor town".
Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Europe by volume.
Exploring around the edges of the glacier and looking for ice caves.
We saw many caves we didn't feel safe walking out towards on the ice. I can only imagine how amazing it must be out there!
Vatnajökull glacier from above.
Ice caves are formed when the glacier melts and can collapse at any time.
I've never wanted to take so many rocks home with me! Look at this one with gold polka-dots...
Large chunks of the glacier floated out to sea, and washed up on the black sand beach by the force of the ocean.
Walking on the glacier made me so nervous because it was not uncommon to hear pops and cracks in the ice as it melted and broke apart. 
In a small cave we found along the edge of the glacier. The ice is continually dripping and eroding in spots like this.

Early morning horse back riding was a dream.

48 comments :

  1. Amazing photos! How exactly do you edit them?

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    1. Hi Sóley. Thank you! We edit our photos using VSCO and Adobe Lightroom.

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  2. the ice caves look so beautiful! i'm about to head to iceland next week for my honeymoon! can't wait to see what you saw in person :)

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    1. Em - What an amazing place to honeymoon! Enjoy! (be sure to book a tour specifically to see the ice caves... the glacier walks don't go to the caves)

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  3. Great pictures!! It's so beautiful.

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  4. How is it possibly that your photos keep getting better and better? AMAZING!!!!!!

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    1. Andi - Ha, thanks! I'm afraid we have to give some credit to Iceland. ;)

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  5. Gorgeous photos! Iceland looks beautiful.

    May I ask what camera/lens you use? :)

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    1. Carla - Thank you! These were shot with a Nikon D800 and the following lenses - 85mm 1.8, 35mm 1.4, and 45mm tilt-shift. The last few with the horses were shot with a Fuji X100 (small and easy to use on horseback).

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    2. Thank you!

      Gah, each Iceland post is absolutely gorgeous. You guys look like you had tremendous fun! :)

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    3. That and I was considering the Fuji X100 as a smaller camera. Your pictures have convinced me that it's a good investment!

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  6. Aww guys, I love your photography! Incredible experiences that take me inside each time, I can feel the cold breeze from here. Iceland is such a beauty.

    http://velvetgrounds.blogspot.com/

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  7. Wonderful photos! I've dreaming of Iceland for a very long time, and now I feel an even stronger urge to go!

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  8. Ahhh love these, just stunning! What beautiful rocks, ice and ponies!!! Thanks for sharing!

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  9. those large chunks of ice are so incredible. i could look at these photos forever.

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  10. your photography are always amazing ! !
    congrats !

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  11. your photography calms me and makes me believe in better tomorrow. i love you guys

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  12. GORGEOUS photos! I was never interested in Iceland, but now I want to go asap! Just found your blog through bloglovin and followed immediately! your photos are amazing! xo, Julie (alonewithmytea.blogspot.com)

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    1. Julie - Cool! Thanks for sharing. Wasn't sure if anyone was finding us through Bloglovin... now I know. :) Happy to have you.

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  13. Iceland is on the top top of my bucket list! And, your amazing photos may have just moved it to the very front! So jealous!

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  14. these iceland posts are some of my very favorite of yours.. something about this landscape is so mesmerizing. i wanted to ask you a million questions about this trip while you were here, so of course i forgot entirely!! (; xo!

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    1. tiffany - Darn, I'm the same way! I feel like I had a million questions to ask you in person too, but didn't know where to start. We need to see each other more often. ;)

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  15. I love how crisp and clear your pictures are! Also, there are a lot of great details. Love the picture of the horse's mane.
    http://liveitinerantly.com

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  16. The pops of color are gorgeous. The horses look so fluffy and warm lol

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  17. Love your photos! It's amazing that you took a trip to Iceland :) I'd love to go to a location where it's all ice!

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  18. These pictures are amazing, I love the contrast of the red jacket with the rest of the icy background. You were very brave to walk on the ice and looking for ice caves by your own without a guide.

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  19. I had never thought of Iceland as a place to add to my bucket list, but it is on there now. My husband and daughter are rockhounds and they would be so excited at the specimens you found. Will have to go back and see more of your trips. You two are very lucky to being experiencing the world in this way.
    -Gina-

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    1. Gina - Oh they would have so much fun collecting rocks. Thank you for the nice comment... we are so blessed and try to remember this always.

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  20. Just stumbled across your blog - and wow, love, love, love. Your photos are gorgeous - beautiful muted colours. Love the horses.

    http://somewhereyonder.blogspot.co.uk/

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  21. Stunning!! I have been so anxious to see these. :) Beautiful imagery, I do hope I can visit Iceland some day!

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  22. We leave in two days to drive the Ring Road so I was incredibly excited to see your Iceland pictures. Every time you post something new I show my husband what awesomeness we have to look forward to and we do little jig dance around our living room:) Thanks so much for sharing!!

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    1. Natasha - Excited for you!! You will have so much fun. Let me know if you have any Qs.

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  23. Sublime photos! Love to be there rigt now. Thanks for sharing again.

    Cheers, WomanToSantiago

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  24. freakin unreal. a photographers haven.

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  25. These photos are stunning! I want to see more!

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  26. this is so ridiculously amazing.

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  27. Beautiful, beautiful imagery! I someday would love to make the trek to Iceland. What a gorgeous country!

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  28. Wow, these are stunning! So jealous, I can't wait to visit! Love following your travels! www.sadieraeandco.com

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  29. I've just been introduced to your lovely blog - these photos are absolutely stunning! And it looks like such an amazing place, I'd love to head there one day.

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  30. this is too gorgeous for words. this is my dream blog and i can't wait to follow forever!!!

    xoxo
    the well-traveled wife

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  31. Wow. I just realised that I have to go to Iceland. Beautiful pictures!

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  32. These photos are amazing. I am addicted to your blog =D

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  33. What time of the year did you go to Iceland?

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    1. Hi Illona. We went at the end of March.

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