Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Nature

Photos: Raufarhólshellir cave opened to public after new elevated walkways added, tons of trash removed

By Staff

  • Inside the cave Tons of trash were removed from the cave before it was re-opened to the public. Photo/Vilhelm

Raufarhólshellir on Reykjanes peninsula has been re-opened to the public after new walking paths and viewing decks have been installed. To pay for the improvements visitors will now be charged 4,900 ISK (50 USD/44 EUR) to explore one of the largest caves in Iceland.

Making it easier to explore the cave

Raufarhólshellir
Inside the cave Lights illuminate the rock formations Photo/Vilhelm

Until earlier this year entry to the cave was free and open. The only facilities at the site were a small parking lot. To handle the growing numbers of visitors a group of local landowners and investors came together to add new facilities.

The parkinglot has been expanded, public lavatories added and elevated walking paths and viewing decks have been built inside the cave, thus allowing visitors to navigate the deep cave and enjoy the rock formations without damaging them.

Lights have also been installed to allow people to enjoy the cave‘s beauty. Guards at the site will ensure the safety of visitors.

New structures leave no permanent marks

Raufarhólshellir, Eirikur Ingvarsson representative of landowners

Raufarhólshellir Eirikur Ingvarsson a representative of landowners. Photo/Vilhelm

The organizers say the walking paths and viewing decs were designed so that they could be dis-assembled without much trouble. A spokesman for the project told the local news site Vísir that great care had been taken to ensure the cave wasn't damaged:

"None of the things we did should leave a permanent mark on the cave. Everything we built can be taken apart, leaving the cave in the same condition as we found it."

During the construction the team removed several metric tons of trash and waste from the cave, including „piles of toilet paper“. The construction will therefore not only ensure that the growing number of visitors will not cause further damages to the unique cave, but it has actually restored the cave.

One of the longest caves in Iceland

Raufarhólshellir

Inside Raufarhólshellir The colourful lava gives the cave an unnatural air Photo/Vilhelm

The 1,360 meter (0.84 mile) long cave is one of the largest in Iceland, and the fourth longest. It is up to 10 m (33 ft) tall, and 10-30 m (36-90 ft) wide, stretching beneath the lava field. Parts of the ceiling have collapsed, making the cave difficult to navigate. Beautiful lava formations in the cave add to its magic.

The cave is very accessible to the public, as the entrance is located right next to the road connecting the ring road to the south coast of Reykjanes peninsula. It has therefore seen growing numbers of visitors in the last few years, as at least 20,000 people visited the cave in 2015. The number in 2016 is expected to have been significantly higher.

Raufarhólshellir

Raufarhólshellir The walkways allow visitors to explore the cave without danger of damaging either rock formations or any danger to themselves. Photo/Vilhelm

 

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