【Lofthellir Lava Cave】

 【Weather Forecasts】

2010.8.16

The weather is not good as the forecast said. It's cloudy and raining in the morning.

There is not doubt that I don't have to wait for the Myflug tour at 10:00. It's impossible to fly in this kind of bad weather.

Although people say the weather in Iceland changes quickly, I don't think that the sky will become sunny in a sudden. I say, if you don't see the sun in the morning, there is less possibility to see the sun that day.

Travelling in Iceland is unforgettable, includes the raining days.

Since the Myflug tour is out of the schedule, I decides to join the Cave tour to explore the ice cave underground.

Before I go to the tourist center, I park my car at the entrance of Grjotagja, and take a small walk ialong the path. According to the information, Grjotagja is a cave with a geothermal spring inside, but I'm not sure about the exact location of that cave, and there is no map in detail to tell me how to find it. Therefore, I walk for about 15 minutes but don't see anything special.

It seems to waste my time and energy without any meaning. I finish this stupid exercise soon and go to the tourist center for today's major activity.

(Grjotagja: http://www.showcaves.com/english/misc/caves/Grjotagja.html)

There is nothing to do before the opening hour of the tourist center, I fill the gas in the rain, write the postcards I bought yesterday, and wait for the boring time passing away.

Although it's just thirty minutes, the bad weather make it as long as three hours.

At 8:00, the tourist center is opened, but the staff who sell the ticket of the cave tour is at the desk until 8:30.

The only thing you could do in the raining day is waiting, or watching the information boards to learn more about the geography.

After I bought the ticket, the tour guide pick us up at 9 o'clock. There is only six people in the tour, includes the guide. I like this kind of small group tour. It means the quality will be better. Actually, this tour is much interesting and exciting than I imaged before.

We drvie to a house nearby where we choose our own rain-boots. This rain-boots has small nails in the bottom which can help us walking stably on the ice.

 

The Lofthellir cave is located underground in a wide, manless lava field. According to the tour information, you could see ice river, ice stalactites, and icicles. Anyway, it means that you could see any shaped of ice in the cave underground.

A Traditional Chinese travel book for Iceland is Titled as "The Country with Ice and Fire (冰與火的國度)". The Ice is sometimes referred as Glacier, and the Fire is referred as Volcano or Geothermal Scene.

I think that Lofthellir is the truly place both with Ice and Fire. Of course, there is still other place that matches the name of "Ice and Fire", like Eyjafjallajökull or Helka volcano which is covered by the glacier, but these amazing scenes are not easy to approach without expensive admission.

Could you image that you stand on the ice in a cave, but the ground above you head is a great lava field ?

Lefthellir is the only place in Iceland that could meet your need.

 

The way to Lefthellir cave is near the Hverfjall. After entering the entrance of Hverfjall and turning right, the car drives for about twenty minutes on a bumpy path.

We stop at the lava field, and the guide says: here we are.

What? I don't see any cave in this big lava field.

The guide says, we have to walk through the lava field to the cave.

I think that's why other tourists could not find the cave without joining the tour.

If I don't follow the steps of the guide, I will get lost in this lava field.

There is no obvious trek or sign that show you the direction.

You could find the cave only if you can fly.

We carry our rainboots and trek through the lava for about fifteen minutes.

The rainboots are a little heavy, and I feel hot as I walk with the coat.

When we arrived at the extrance, the guide talk to the staff, the only one staff who seems to camp here for security affairs.

His white car may be the only thing that could be the sign for the direction.

Before we go down to the cave, we have to put on the rainboots and wear the hemlet with a headlight ahead. Goretex coat is also necessary for the cold weather in the cave.

Let's Go Exploring the Cave! 

You could feel the cold air after going down the stairs. The cave we will explore is at the left corner.

We walk across the cold water and approach a wood door which is locked for security.

The guide says that a tourist got trapped in the deep location of the cave before, and you may image that there is no one around there to save him.

Exploration is exciting, but dangerous. You must follow the tour guide and survey the cave in the safe area.

 

The door opened. In front of us, is a narrow gateway.

Please crawl through it.

Oh, My god. I smile with a open mouth. 

It a good news that I' not so fat that I can not crawl through the gateway, or I will embarrassed by this situation. 

Besides, it means that you could only bring the pocket-size camera with you. DSLR camera is too big to enter the gateway with you, and you may not want your camera get damaged during the exploration.

The guide is always the first one at this kind of occasions. He tell us about how to crawl through, and then we follow his instruction to do the same movements. Ha Ha, that's quite funny and exciting. 

When we all pass the gateway, what we stand on is ice everywhere. There is a ice river (small glacier) under our feet.

And we find a Big Ice in this section.

I have seen the glacier before, but this is my first time to see the Icicles.

That's Amazing.

The big ice is quite clear that the light could pass inside.

The lava ground is just above our head, and is surrounded with ice stalactites and the big ice.

This ice looks like a frozen waterfall.

The ice ground is not always flat. When we meet a gentle ice slope, we have to hold the rope and walk slowly with a half-squatted pose.

These processes make the cave exploration really enjoyable.

The man below comes from German.

He is our Icelandic guide.

The texture of this big ice is quite special.

I don't know how to describe the shape of the new ice. It looks like a bird's wing.

In order to prove that the ice is crystal clear, the guide put some headlights behind the icicles.

We enjoy the time in the cave for more than one hour, and the return is also interesting.

Finally, we crawl the narrow gateway and back to where we come from.

Actually, the cave is quite huge, and we don't explore all the areas inside.

The guide says that these areas are separated into five levels. Some areas are quite difficult to explore and also dangerous. Besides, equipments are all necessary, and so is the climbing skills.

He leads us to take a view of the cave at the right corner, but I think this one is not easy to get inside.

On the way back to the car, the guide introduce this small blue berry which could be eaten.

By the way, the mushroom in the lava filed is uneatable.

The tour spent about 5 hours in total.

At 2 o'clock, I say goodbye to the friends at the tourist center, and then continue my journey this day.

Today I will challenge road No.864 which someone said about its bad condition as I gather the traveling information about Iceland.

This road is a part of Diamond Circle, and the other part is road F862 which only 4WD car is permitted.

 

According to the information from the staff of Myvatn tourist center, there is a new road to the Dettifoss. It's shorter than driving from road No.864 and is not as bumpy as road F862. It means that the normal car (2WD) could drive on this road.

The new road is not available on the Google Map, but could be found on the newest map sold in the bookshop in Iceland. 

Besides, the road sign is also not ready. The location is approximately 8 km from the intersection of ring road and road F862.

Although you not see the road sign, this new road is the only one road that is between road F862 and road No.864, and you won't miss it.

 

Because I have to drive to Ásbyrgi and arrive at Husavik tonight, I don't  choose this new road and drive to road No.864 directly.

The road is still as bumpy as other roads with the similar condition. Despite I have experiences before, I don't like this kind of road at all.

The distance from the intersection to Dettifoss is not as long as I think, but I miss the entrance once for the road sign of Dettifoss is just at the corner.

After parking the car, I go down to watch this huge waterfall.

According to Wiki, Dettifoss is 100 meter wide, and have a drop of 44 meter to the canyon. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dettifoss).

It is said to be the biggest waterfall in Iceland. The running water makes great spray that will make you wet if you get too close to it.

Though Dettifoss is quite powerful, the water is not clear and is not as beautiful as Gullfoss.

If you want to take a nice picture of Dettifoss, east bank is recommended and you have to come there by road F862 or the new road I introduced above. (More Information: http://www.visitnortheasticeland.is/local-pearls-and-attractions/dettifoss/)

If you walk along the rocky trekking path for about two km, you may see another small waterfall, named Selfoss, which is the up river of Dettifoss but not so impressive.

Since Selfoss has the same flowing water as Dettifoss and the path to Selfoss is not so well, I give up visiting Selfoss. After all, the clear water is the first factor for a beautiful waterfall. And I'm not sure whether the time left is enough to finish the trip today.

For about thirty minutes as I walk along the Dettifoss for photographing, I keep on going to the next attraction: Ásbyrgi.

The cars on the road are not so much. I try to drive a little faster to make the driving more smooth, and leave road No.864 for less than one hour.

Connecting to the Road No.85 in the left direction, I arrived at the gas station of Ásbyrgi soon.

And I find that my car is very dirty as I pass through road No.864.

The tourist center is not beside the gas station but near for driving about two minutes.

There is also a campsite around Ásbyrgi canyon. You could pay and get the information from the tourist center.

Lonely Planet doesn't introduce Ásbyrgi, especially the map, very clearly. I go inside the tourist center for more information. Actually, I don't know how to look around Ásbyrgi. There is a display corner inside the center. It's simple, but elegant. And they also provide internet access.

As another tourist ask for information at the desk, the staff explains the visiting route for Ásbyrgi canyon, and I also listen to her introduction. If you drive from here for about five minutes, you will find a parking place where is the entrance for walkways around the canyon. Of course, you could walk there, but it takes more time. 

There is a separated mountain located in the center-north of the canyon where is on your right side when you drive or walk there. A campsite is also around there, and you could climb southwards to the top and get a great view of the canyon.

I drive and park my car in the parking place, and find a detailed map about the Ásbyrgi canyon (shown as below). There is road from north to south and located on the right side of the mountain in the center-north. The end of the road in the south is the parking place I'm now. As for the area we will walk around is in the south of the parking place, and that area is surrounded by the wall of the canyon.

The first feeling as I walk into the pathway is Green. I think they are protected by the Big Wall of Ásbyrgi canyon in front of me.

If you watch carefully at the top of the wall, you may see two "small" man on there, and you could image how high the wall is.

These two man are quite brave.

If you also want to do the same thing, you will need lots of time at Ásbyrgi. But I think it's better to watch the canyon in the sky, if I could join the Myflug flying tour for Jökulsárgljúfur national park.

I don't know about the name of that plant, but its color is as pretty as maple leaves.

I love the Green feeling around here, though I could not get a great view of the canyon. It really makes me relaxed and comfortable.

The walkway is soft, so you could enjoy your walking here.

The walkway will direct you to a small lake. The water is clear and you could see the green plants under the water.

Besides, some ducks live in the lake.

If you walk to the viewing deck at the high position. The scene is very beautiful.

This is like a picture with trees, grass, and lake in different kinds of green color.

At another higher position, you will get very close to the wall and could see that separated mountain in front of you on the left side.

This view is also nice. I try to catch the view with my camera, but the work is not as good as what I see here.

Finally, I walk through this lovely pathway to the parking place. It's soft and I love this feeling.

If you just walk around the pathway, it won't take you a lot of time.

But if you want to climb the mountains and look around Ásbyrgi in detail, you could try camping here and spend a day here.

Some tourists will also visit the canyon and drive along the road F862 to get a whole experience around the Jökulsárgljúfur national park.

It's a pity that I can't afford to rent a 4WD car. That is quite expensive.

I don't know why the books don't introduce this place particularly.

Otherwise, I will be glad to camp here for at least one night.

Tonight, I have to go to Husavik. The expected whale and puffin watching is oncoming.

Driving on the Road No.85, the Arctic sea is on my right side. Th color of sea is different from other seas.

Though the scene is not bad, the weather is bad. It rains again so I give up taking photographs and drive quickly to Husavik.

 

At 7 o'clock, I  arrived at Husavik which is a small harbour town.

The campsite, church, supermarket, ticket booth, tourist center and the harbour are all along the road I driving.

Because of the raining day, I don't visit this town today and go to the campsite for resting.

There is no office in the campsite. The camp guardian will come to find you, and the price is 1000 ISK for one night.

The facilities here include toilets, bathrooms, sinks, and a small guest kitchen.

You could charge your cellphone in the kitchen. It's free.

And they also provide electromagnetic ovens for cooking.

In summary, the campsite is good. If they provide washing and drying service, it will be excellent.

I think I may have a cold if I keep on camping in the raining day.

The weather of Husavik is quite cold, and the rain make it worse.

 

Attachment:Travelling Route Map

 

A:Myvatn

B:Cave Exploration

C:Dettifoss

D:Ásbyrgi

E :Húsavík

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