At 3pm we were loaded into 2 modified super trucks with ten persons in each for the Let’s Go Volcano! tour. We headed to Lava Tube caves created by a once ancient river of flowing lava. The journey to the caves was amazing and required us to drive Icelandic trails to get to the entrance. You talk about bumpy and treacherous roads. Good thing we were in a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
When we arrived at the entrance of Leidarendi a 900 meter long circular lava tube cave the first thing we did was put on a safety helmet and light. You start at just a hole in the ground and after climbing down into the mouth you quickly realize this is going to be a demanding caving experience. After snapping the first photograph underground I learned that the walls of the cave were actually red. Our headgear light did not show this effect, but the photographs clearly did. The cave is quite wet in places with water often dripping from the ceiling and on the floors. Wear hiking boots, waterproof pants, and take a waterproof jacket. We passed through three areas of the cave where it was big enough to stand up and hold a conversation. Then we reached the point of the cave which we would travel no further. At this juncture everyone sat down on the rocks, which were generally wet, and turned off their headgear lights. We were told that our eyes would never adjust to the total darkness. Once everyone was totally quiet you could hear the cave as if it was coming to life. This was an amazing sensual experience. Unlike the marked caves in America this cave has not been prepared in any fashion for visitors. So be prepared! The trek through the cave required lots of bending over, stooping and crawling. Several of the folks, including myself, banged their head on the ceiling of the cave a few times. Thank goodness for that helmet. Afterwards when headed back the way we came in to gather up a couple of folks who gave up during the journey. We then exited the cave by a more difficult route than we entered and turned over our headgear to the next group who was waiting outside. I promise you this experience is going to require all the energy you have.
Our journey continued by driving through the lava fields. This was unlike anything we had seen or experienced before. A total lack of tree’s… just moss, grass and random small plants. We likened the scenery to being on the moon or perhaps mars. Soon after off-roading for a bit we came upon the Krysuvik Seltun Bubbling Hot Springs and Fumaroles at the Geothermal field. Immediately upon exiting the 4×4 we detected the smell of sulfur in the air. As we walked around the hot springs it was engrossing to see the bubbling water pits, which looked more like boiling clay, and the escaping steam. We spent about 40 minutes walking around and taking pictures.
Now we off-roaded some more. More moon and mars landscapes as far as you could see in any direction. Eventually we came to the the Fortress of Fire or Eldborg Volcanic Crater. Walking across the mossy surface leading up to the climb reminded me of walking on AstroTurf as it was so soft and spongy. It was a significant walk across the terrain and a steep climb up to the Volcano top that just got steeper and steeper as it went along. However, upon reaching the top, we were rewarded with amazing views across the lava fields and a top down view of the dormant volcanic crater itself.
After returning to our modified super trucks we again off-roaded to more amazing scenery. We began to see older lava fields that were more broken down as many were more than 10,000 years old. In all this driving we never saw any wildlife or a single tree. It was something right out of a SCI-FI movie. After about 20 minutes more of driving we made it to a paved road and headed to the Icelandic town of Grindavic. This was a quaint fishing village where we had a moderate dinner at the Bryggjan café consisting of Lobster or Cauliflower Soup and home-made bread. As there were no other alternatives and we are not seafood eaters, we purchased some Icelandic cake to eat on our own for 1,800 krona.
After everyone had finished eating, we boarded our vehicles one last time and headed down another trail until we came to the power plant surrounding the Blue Lagoon. We did not stop, but drove by and saw the blue water from the lagoon out the windows of the vehicles. I managed to snap a pretty amazing photo. We heard commentary about the healing powers of the water and its use for medicinal purposes.
Now we made it again to a paved road only this time a main one. I saw a sign, Reykjavik 38 Kilometers. We headed back to the ship and the pier after about a five and one half hour excursion. Our tour guide provided much information about the area throughout the tour and mentioned that the Vikings first settled the land in 874 AD.
I would rate this tour as phenomenal, but please heed the warnings that this is a very physical excursion.
Cruise Port: Reykjavik, Iceland
Tour Operator: Iceland Travel
Tour guide: Giestly
Steps logged: 11,282