All about ICELAND Insider info to adventuring in Iceland
Sophie

By Sofie

August 23, 2019

The Legend of Bilbo and his Blue Ice Cave (Updated)

A good glacier guide has the heart of an explorer — even the ones who walk on four legs!

Not so long ago, Bilbo the Samoyed puppy and our new Junior Guide made a startling discovery – Iceland’s newest ice cave! Sadly, due to its fragile nature, the ice cave collapsed. But lucky for us, Bilbo is ready to show his other favorite ice caves. Read all about the legend behind the cave, its unfortunate collapse, and the other stunning ice caves Bilbo explored!

Bilbo’s Discovery — Iceland’s Bluest Ice Cave

Bilbo is on a mission to discover an ice cave!

It was a clear, blue day when our expert wilderness guide Francesco was hiking his usual route on Sólheimajökull Glacier, alongside his adorable Samoyed puppy, Bilbo Baggins.

Suddenly, the furry and energetic companion took off running in the direction of a large hole nested in ice. Francesco caught up with his four-legged friend and realized that the hole led to a brand-new ice cave! Whether it was the mischief of a young pup or the intuition of a trailblazer, Bilbo had made an epic discovery. Good boy!

Bilbo’s best friend, Francesco, is one of our experienced ice cave guides

Unfortunately, due to the effects of climate change on the Icelandic landscape, the ice in the cave soon started to melt, flooding the cave completely.

Bilbo is sad to lose his great discovery

Knowing Bilbo’s adventurous soul and the ever-changing Icelandic landscape, we’re positive that Bilbo will make more incredible discoveries! So stay tuned.

Iceland’s glaciers are constantly changing. When they do, old ice caves disappear and form again in new locations. To keep up with Mother Nature’s newest creations, our team of tireless ice cave hunters, including Bilbo, is always on the lookout.

Did You Know? — Quick Facts On Natural Ice Caves in Iceland

  • Ice caves are formed by meltwater flows and geothermal activity
  • The term “ice caves” and “glacier caves” are often used interchangeably, but glacier caves are always formed entirely from glacial ice 
  • Ice caves are not always blue or white. They can also be white-gray or black 
  • Iceland’s ice caves vary greatly in size. The famous Crystal Cave at Vatnajökull Glacier, the largest glacier in Europe, can hold 100 people at once!

Bilbo Recommends: Best Ice Cave Tours in Iceland

Bilbo is devastated that his ice cave has collapsed, but he still wants to take you on icy adventures! There are plenty of other natural ice caves to explore in the Land of Fire and Ice.

Here’s what Bilbo recommends:

1. Crystal Ice Cave in Vatnajokull Glacier

Pockets of trapped blue ice lit by sunlight create various shades of blue

Inside the cave, head-to-toe translucent blue ice makes these hidden coves the most eye-catching natural wonders. The crystal clear interior allows visitors to see meters deep inside the glacier, and uncover what lies at the heart of the ice floe.

So how does crystal blue ice cave get its color? With enough pressure, a diamond can be made, or in the case of glaciers, a blue ice cave. When glaciers are compressed under their own weight for hundreds to thousands of years, air bubbles are forced out and their ice crystals enlarge.

This process creates pockets of blue ice. Combined with the sunlight, they form a spectacular quartz-colored curtain across the cave. The shades of blue vary from lighter to more opaque. Sometimes algae also gets caught inside the ice and creates more vivid tones.

Crystal ice cave in the depths of Vatnajokull Glacier

On our crystal ice cave tour of Vatnajokull Glacier, you’ll have the chance to explore the blue depths of Europe’s largest glacier. Before descending, our certified glacier guides will provide you with all the necessary equipment and let you in on the centuries-old secrets hidden inside Vatnajokull Glacier.

Blue isn’t the only color you’ll find inside the ice cave. If you look closely at the walls, you’ll see bubbles and layers of black ash from the volcanic eruptions of nearby Katla Volcano.

It’s easy to get mesmerized by the winter wonderland that lies beneath the glacier, so don’t forget to take out your camera for picture-perfect moments. Paws down, this is one of the most beautiful ice caves in Iceland.

2. Katla Ice Cave and Hiking Adventure 

A crystal ice cave located in Katla Glacier

Our Katla ice caving tour begins with a hike across Kötlujökull Glacier, a glacier tongue of the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier, named after Katla Volcano. We’ll pick you up from the meeting point and take you to the glacier in a super jeep — a whole other adventure in itself. Then, after a short glacier hike, we’ll descend into the ice cave.

Bilbo thinks that this day tour trek and ice cave exploration is the perfect choice for all skill levels. Tours are offered from the meeting point in Vik or with pickup from Reykjavik. 

Unlike Crystal Ice Cave, this cave features more colors. Once you descend the ladder into the cave, you’ll be greeted with stripes of blue and white with a sprinkle of volcanic ash from Katla Volcano. 

For those who choose the Reykjavik pickup option, we’ll also stop at  two majestic waterfalls on the South Coast, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. Have your camera ready at all times as this day tour is filled with memorable moments!

3. Langjokull Natural Ice Cave

Natural ice cave in Langjokull, the “long” glacier

Being a junior glacier guide is no easy task, especially in a country that has 269 glaciers. It will take a while for Bilbo to explore all of them, but another glacier that he has recently explored and fallen in love with is Langjokull, the “long” glacier.

Stretching for over 31 mi (50 km), the glacier is one of the most famous in Iceland and has a natural ice cave as well as a man-made ice tunnel. Follow in the footsteps of Bilbo and explore the icy expanse of Langjokull Glacier on this snowmobile and ice caving tour.

Langjokull Glacier snowmobile tour

First, you’ll ride a snowmobile like a pro for about an hour. then you’ll descend into a spellbinding wonderland of blue ice. Don’t worry if you don’t have any previous snowmobiling experience — beginners with a moderate level of fitness are welcome!

After the exhilarating glacier ride, we’ll take you to the natural ice cave. Each year, ice caves in Iceland melt and reform, creating new and unseen formations inside the glacier. Our certified glacier guides will instruct you on all safety precautions and make sure you’re safe and sound throughout the tour.

Bilbo is also waiting for you to join him on Bilbo’s glacier adventure tour!

So there you have it — Bilbo’s three favorite ice caves. If you decide to explore one of Bilbo’s recommended ice caves in Iceland, tag your pictures on Instagram with #BilboAdventures and let him know you enjoyed the experience!

The Legend of Bilbo and his Blue Ice Cave

Related blogs