Into The Underworld | Vatnshellir Caving Tour
Explore this 8,000-year-old lava cave by booking this exciting tour to Vatnshellir Cave, found in the forever-sublime Snæfellsjökull National Park. This tour is perfect for thrill seekers, nature lovers and those travellers looking to experience something truly unique whilst in Iceland!
Given that this cave has only been open to the public since 2011, you can be guaranteed that this is one of Iceland's most exciting new activities. Vatnshellir can be located just 10-minutes drive from the village of Hellnar, making it easily accessible to those travelling through the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
You'll receive all the necessary gear (ie; a helmet and headlamp) to help you see deep below the earth. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as the volcanic rock beneath your feet can be quite difficult to traverse! When everyone is ready, there is a spiral staircase to descend into this naturally formed underworld.
You will follow the path of the lava flow, about 200 meters into the cave, 35 metres below the surface, to see some truly amazing colours and lava formations. The cave is an easy walk, but the ground is sharp and uneven, so children age 3 and up are welcome, as are visitors in good health and physical fitness - the tour provider prefers everyone on the tour to be able to walk unassisted!
At the bottom of the cave, you'll turn off your lights for a moment to experience the all-consuming darkness! In the modern era, we are used to having easy access to light, so it can be startling to imagine life before electricity! After feeling a little spooked, you will proceed to explore a number of chambers hidden within the cave.
Throughout the tour, your guide will be eager to tell you all about the bursting eruption which cracked the earth open to form this cave, as well as the folklore woven into the fabric of the peninsula.
So what are you waiting for? Don't miss this opportunity to see the strange, subterranean beauty of Vatnshellir cave! Check the booking availability by choosing a date.
- Available: Nov. - Sep.
- Activities: Caving, Sightseeing
- Difficulty: Easy
- Minimum age: 5 years.
- Languages: English, Icelandic
- Highlights: Snæfellsjökull,
Snæfellsjökull (1446 m) is an ice-capped volcano found on the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland.
Though many consider Snæfellsjökull to simply be a particularly impressive ice cap, it is, in fact, a 700,000-year-old glacier-capped stratovolcano. The mountain is actually called "Snæfell" (Snowy Mountain), though the “jökull” (Glacier) is often added to help distinguish it from other mountains of the same name. For the first time in recorded history, Snæfellsjökull had no snow or ice at its peak in August 2012, causing concern amongst locals that climate change is threatening the nature of the mountain.
On clear days, one can see Snæfellsjökull from Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, approximately 120 kilometres away over Faxa Bay, making for an impressive sight—and a tick off the bucket list if you can’t make it to travelling across the Peninsula itself. The volcano makes up just a small part of the larger Snæfellsjökull National Park.
Nearby villages include Hellissandur, Rif and Ólafsvík, all of which were commercial and fishing hubs throughout the peninsula’s long history of human inhabitance. Fishing took off primarily in the 13th-Century, with fishing stations being built in all areas with easy access to the open ocean.
One notable example would be the settlement of Dritvík, one of the largest fishing stations in Iceland at the time, utilising around 40–60 boats and employing between 200–600 people. Fishing in the region declined during the 19th century due to a change in Iceland’s fishing practises, though it is still an important source of livelihood for those living on the Peninsula.
Snæfellsjökull has, for centuries, been considered to be one of the world’s ancient power sites, a source of mysticism, energy and mystery for the peninsula’s superstitious population. This likely has something to do with the stratovolcanoes place in the Icelandic sagas; the feature takes a prominent role in Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss, a late 14th-century saga that tells the story of Bárður, half-human-half-troll, who became the “guardian spirit of Snæfellsjökull.”
Snæfellsjökull serves as the entrance to a fantastical subterranean world in Jules Verne’s classic 1864 novel “Journey to The Centre of The Earth.” Given its central place in the novel, Snæfellsjökull has become one of the most popular spots for visitors in Iceland and has inspired a wealth of writers, poets and artists.
Since “Journey to The Centre of The Earth”, Snæfellsjökull has appeared in the Blind Birds trilogy by Czech SF writer Ludvík Souček (partially based on Jules’ work) and in Under The Glacier, a novel by Iceland’s only Nobel laureate, Halldor Laxness.
Along with the glacier, attractions include the two nearby basalt cliffs called Lóndrangar and the many fascinating lava formations at the beautiful Djúpalonssandur beach, such as the arch rock Gatklettur. At Djúpalonssandur, one can also test their strength just as the ancient sailors once did with the four "strength" stones, Amlóði ('Useless'), Hálfdrættingur ('Weakling'), Hálfsterkur ('Half Strength') and Fullsterkur ('Full Strength'). In the area, one can also explore the Saxhóll volcano crater and 'the singing cave' Sönghellir, which is named after the loud echoes inside.Snæfellsnes,
Snaefellsnes is a large peninsula extending to the west from West Iceland ending with a national park, Snaefellsjokull National Park, where the glacier towers over the scenery, as can sometimes be seen from Reykjavik, lending its beauty to the area.
The peninsula stretches over 100 km to the west as a mountain ridge that includes active volcanoes and is unique in the variety of mountains found.
A few small and beautiful villages are located on the south side and a few fishing villages are on the north side: Rif, Hellissandur, Olafsvik, Grundarfjordur and Stykkisholmur. The last one is highly popular for travelers, featuring a volcano museum and a ferry that takes you across the fascinating Breidafjordur bay to Brjanslaekur on the south border of the Westfjords.
Other museums you might want to check out are the Maritime Museum at Hellissandur, the regional museum Pakkhusid at Olafsvik, and, last but not least, the shark museum at Bjarnarhofn, indeed listed as the nr. 1 Snafellsnes attraction by Lonely Planet Travelers. Also, many of the Icelandic sagas take place at Snaefellsnes.
Snaefellsnes has an abundance of interesting sights. At the national park, you can witness the impressive lava formations of Djupalonssandur creek and test your strength on its four stones, see the two massive lava formations that compries Londrangar, explore the Saxholl volcanic crater and enjoy the echo of 'The Singing Cave', Songhellir. You may also hike on the majestic Snaefellsjokull glacier. The glacier has strong ties with folklore and was the setting for Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Other sights we can recommend at Snaefellsnes recommend include Raudfeldsgja canyon, east of the national park and the rugged and colourful Berserkjahraun lava field, near Bjarnarhofn, on the north side of the peninsula.
Last, but not least, Snaefellsnes is one of the main setting for Laxdaela saga. Chieftain Snorri godi, Gudrun Osvifursdottir, Bolli Thorlakssson all lived there as well as his namesake Bolli Bollason, the first West Norse member of the Varangian guard, an elite unit of the Byzantine army. Iceland's most famous mass murderer, Axlar-Bjorn, also lived at Snaefellsnes.Hellnar,
Hellnar is an old fishing village on the westernmost part of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. It used to be one of the largest fishing stations of the peninsula, the oldest record of seafaring there being from 1560.
At the shore are spectacular rock formations. Among them is a protruding cliff called Valasnos. Tunneling into the cliff is a cave renowned for its changing colourful hues, according to the light and sea movement. Large colonies of birds also nest in the area.
At Gvendarbrunnar a.k.a. Mariulind you can taste excellent spring water which is said to have healing powers.
Hellnar hosts the guesthouse for Snaefellsnes National Park and has a very interesting exhibition about the economy of former times and on the geology, flora and fauna of the national park.Vatnshellir Cave
Vatnshellir is an 8,000-year-old lava tube on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and a popular site for caving tours.
At 200 meters (656 ft) long and 35 metres (114 ft) deep at its lowest point, it is a perfect place to observe the geological forces that have helped shape Iceland; the rocks within are differently coloured by their mineral deposits, and of different textures depending on how they cooled during the cave’s formation period. Caves also tell of Iceland’s folklore, as it is said that they were the homes of the trolls.
Traversing the cave is relatively easy for those who can walk unaided without trouble. It should only be entered on a sanctioned tour, however, due to the dangers associated with caving alone and without experience.
Vatnshellir is a protected site, as it is within the Snæfellsjökull National Park.
Departure time : 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00, 18:00
The Vatnshellir Cave Car Park
What to bring:
Hiking boots / shoes
Good to know:
If you have any special requirements, please inform the tour operator as quickly as possible. Please arrive 10 minutes before the tour starts