In South East Iceland, right by the Ring Road, you will find the unique Skaftafell National Park. The park and the surrounding area is nothing less than a natural wonder. Skaftafell is a stunning place created throughout history by ferocious natural forces. If there is any one place in Iceland where you can see what is an island made of ice and fire means, it is the Skaftafell National Park. Today Skaftafell is part of the Vatnajökull National Park. For anyone traveling the Ring Road, it is a serious consideration to staying in Skaftafell for two to three days and taka advantage of the many spectacular hiking trails available. It is also a paradise for families traveling with energetic kids on a family vacation.
Skaftafell is an oasis of warmth beneath the glacier
The Skaftafell park covers the glacier Skaftafellsjökull (an outlet glacier of the Vatnajökull ice cap), the mountain range Kristínartindar and the Morsárdalur valley. The Skaftafell geologic history is marked by eruptions and volcanic activity under the ice cap and glacial floods bringing forth silt and sand to the mighty and dangerous Skeiðarársandur south of the National Park. It is also marked by the calm climate conditions as the great ice cap protects the area against the harsh northern winds. Strangely enough, although surrounded by the glacier and ice, Skaftafaell has a rather pleasant weather and more sunny days than elsewhere in South Iceland.
Skaftafell hiking trails and reasons to stop
In Skaftafell some great hiking trails are leading from the Visitor's Centre. The most popular trail, a short hike, leads up the hills above to the Svartifoss waterfall. For those more energetic a few hours more and take the path to Kristínartindar peaks, a fabulous way to get a breathtaking view of Skaftafell and surrounding area. Another exciting trail is the Skaftafellsjökull hike where you have a great view of the glacier tongue. For those who want to take a day tour a hike to Bæjarstaðarskógur is highly recommended. So there is no lack of activity and interesting things to do during summer in Skaftafell. It is a place for energetic and healthy outdoor families with intelligent members that like to prepare their vacations and study the places they visit.
The camping ground and visitors center
Skaftafell Visitor Center offers a lot of information about the area, hiking trails, and activities. The campground is one of the best in Iceland although the soil is quite hard and sometimes difficult for the tent pegs. The time to visit Skaftafell is from the middle of May until the middle of August. During summer the campground is always packed and a bit like a base camp for activity, a very exciting and excellent place to be during summer. It is also the headquarters for companies that organize exciting hiking tours with guides, like hiking up to the highest mountain in Iceland, Hvannadalshnjúkur. For those who like to stay at one place, Skaftafell is also a neighbor to other interesting natural wonder only a hours drive or less away. Natural wonders like Jökulsárlón, Fjallsárlón to the east and Fjaðrárgljúfur and Dverghamrar to the West.
Below is the location of Skaftafell on the map of Iceland