Raufarhólshellir – development of the lava tunnel

The project included design and assistance with development of the Raufarhólshellir cave and surrounding area for tourism. The parking lot was expanded, a service building was built together with all necessary facilities, and trails, pelts and lighting designed inside the cave. 

About this Project

Raufarhóll ehf.

2016 - 2017 

Þrengslavegur road, South Iceland


The project´s objective

Some years ago, the cave Raufarhólshellir was being treated with disrespect, as travellers left mess behind and accidents in the cave were becoming a major problem. The landowners got the company Raufarhóll ehf. to develop the area with the aim of protecting Raufarhólshellir cave, enable visitors to enjoy it more safely and to control the traffic of guests visiting the cave.

Since EFLA's employees have a rich experiment of similar projects, EFLA was obtained to follow the project through, from design to final projects. EFLA assisted with licensing and layout, design of facilities, parking lots and steps, platforms and electrical and lighting design, in cooperation with geologists and guides that will lead tourists through the cave.

Construction work in a cave like Raufarhólshellir comes with many challenges. Security was heavily emphasized, and engineering geologists needed to assess the cave regarding crash risk. The location of steps and platforms in the cave was primarily chosen for safety reasons, but the best route also had to be chosen in terms of the masses on the bottom and ice accumulation in the cave during winter. EFLA coordinated the work and assisted in the selection of contractors to make the most of the results. 

Environmental issues

Since the project involves making natural resources accessible and safer, high emphasis was placed on the level of protection and the reversibility of constructions inside the cave. 

Great emphasis was also placed on preventing groundwater pollution and water protection in the area. Because of this, special care was taken regarding all material choices and the sewage treatment system was specially designed to reduce pollution from the area. 

EFLA's role

  • Project management and design management
  • Planning and licensing
  • Safety assessment of the cave
  • Design of parking and trails
  • Design of platforms in the cave
  • Design of lighting and electrical systems in the cave
  • Design of utilities to and from the area, namely water supply, sewage and electricity supply
  • Assistance during construction period 

Building inside and by a cave is technically challenging because you have to adapt to the protection of nature while ensuring the experience of those who enjoy it. We are very pleased to have chosen EFLA to solve this task and the outcome says it all.

Hallgrímur Kristinsson
Director of The Lava Tunnel

Related information

The project's long term benefits

Visitors will now be able to enjoy the cave in a much safer and environmentally more acceptable way than before. People who have difficulties walking have the opportunity to see the cave, and all facilities outside the cave, e.g. toilets, are exemplary.