After we'd booked our flights to Iceland, I spent hours trawling the web and travel magazines, looking for unique experiences to get the most out of our time. One site I hit up was Pinterest - my new obsession for gorgeous images and travel inspiration, and whilst browsing, one image stuck in my mind. It showed a cave with a crystal-clear ceiling of ice, light reflecting off and through its many facets, colours deepening before melting into the pools of water below. It was incredibly beautiful and unlike anything I'd seen before. A bit of searching later, and I'd discovered that it was indeed an ice cave - a result of glacial movement in the Snaefellsjokull national park. One final google search, and I'd found a small family business who organised private tours to visit those wonders. Every year our guide searches for new caves as the old are swallowed back up, and assesses them for safety before guiding groups. The temporary life of these fragile structures made them even more intriguing.
through the night, we arrived both tired and excited at our guide's house, close to the national park entrance. A quick swap into his much studier car, and we began a bumpy journey across dirt paths, up rock mounds (and the crashing down that followed), before parking up, the glacier stretching wide in front of us. A scrambling kilometre later, and we were standing where the ice met the rocks, bathed in sunlight as the last of the clouds dispersed.
The rock walls around us swept high in a burst of ochres and reds, framing the ice below. The glacier itself was a creamy blue, the very edge mottled with black from the ash of volcanic eruptions past. Nestled at the bottom, hidden from view until you were literally standing next to it, was an entrance leading inside.
Eventually we went back out, and as we'd made better time than expected, our guide asked if we wanted to try a little glacial walking. Never the types to say no, we quickly agreed and after a short lesson using crampons (which basically consisted of 'strap them on, walk like a cowboy, lean backward when going downhill'), we were a little nervously climbing up the side of the glacier, accompanied by the 'crunch' of every step. Walking over to the hole in the ice cave, we found ourselves looking down on where we had stood earlier. We wandered a little further before carefully making our way back down again (lean back, cowboy crunch...).
After saying goodbye to our wonderful guide, we hopped back into the car and drove the short distance to another famous Icelandic sight - Jokulsarlon, an iceberg lake. After falling for the beauty of these floating monuments to nature in Antarctica, I was keen to see some more. Although on a much smaller scale, the 'bergs were still lovely, glittering in the sunlight whilst being pulled gently along by the strong winds. A peaceful location, and perfect to re-visit later in the evening for the sensational Northern Lights display.