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Dachstein Ice Caves - Austria

Dachstein Ice Caves Dachstein Ice CavesDachstein Ice Caves

Situated at the south end of the beautiful Hallstatt lake is a cable car that takes you high up into the Dachstein mountain range. From here it's a short walk to two sets of show caves, the stone 'Mammoth Caves' and a set of Ice caves.

The ice in these caves has formed into some fantastic shapes, stalagmites and columns. Most impressive is the giant ice cathedral, a hollow formation with many arches in it. This was formed by the air swirling through, and melting sections of the ice. Some of these formations are incredible and really impressive to see.

The same cave network extends through the entire mountain range and right into the valleys. There's another show cave here, the Koppenbrullerhohle that still has water running through it. Water seeps through the cave system after rain and can cause the river in the cave to rise extremely quickly. Part of the route through was already flooded with a fast waterfall spraying over everything. Fortunately there's an alternate path for when this happens.

The only light within the cave is from the head torches provided by the guide, although some small sections are lit up for full effect. The highlight is when these are switched off and you have to navigate a section of the cave in complete darkness with the roar of the water extremely loud and echoing off the close walls. It's a strange experience with just the sound of the waterfall to give you any sense of distance.

Both the Dachstein Ice Caves and Koppenbrullerhohle are worth visiting, the former for the majesty and elegance of the ice formations, the latter for the much more personal tour and the experience of the complete darkness.

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