#skaftafell

Increased indications of volcanic activity in Öræfajökull outlet glacier in Vatnajökull on the south shore has moved the alert state to a higher level.  According to the Icelandic Med Office increased earthquakes, changes in volcanic related chemicals in glacial rivers floating from the glacier, and a new ice-cauldron taking shape on the top of the glacier are all unusual developments.  Not the least when all occur simultaneously.

Öræfajökull glacier on right side seen from Lómagnúpur mountain on the South Shore in Iceland

 

From the massive ice cap Vatnajökull, there are many glacier tongues. On the south side, they form a fascinating landscape when you are driving the Ring Road in Iceland. Falling hundreds of meters in between cliffs and mountains at such a slow speed that it is impossible for the human eye to capture the movement. Giving the view a clean white top and, at least during summer, a beautiful green and yellow foreground.  In between, the increasing cliffs as the ice continue to melt and decrease. All of the tongues have names.  On the southern side, the most famous and most accessible are Skaftafellsjokull and Svínafellsjökull glacier tongues.

Svínafellsjökull is a great place to get close to a glacier tongue

There are many reasons why you want to see a glacier tongue up close. First is the ice breaking apart and forming hundreds of cracks and stacks of an endless formation. It is always a mild attack on your imagination as you just can't avoid strange thoughts when in proximity with this demolishing part of nature.  Secondly, the beauty of this amazing landscape, so bright and clean but yet so powerful. Thirdly is the weirdness when you can hear the movement and all the spooky sounds although you can't see the movement.  And then, the many motives you can find to photograph. We could probably go on and on. Svínafellsjökull glacier has also gained fame as an attraction after this fascinating site was selected as a location for Game of Thrones season seven to represent "north of the wall."

Glacier tongues and lagoons

At the end of many glacier tongues, you will find a lake or at least a small pound.  Some are larger glacier tongues, like the famous Jökulsárlón and Fjallsárlón, where the icebergs float on a relatively large lake, and some are small with icebergs that have broken from the tongues. The lagoon by Svínafellsjökull is small but enough to give the glacier a fascinating and compelling look. The glacier tongue is simply a fascinating phenomenon in nature, and there are not many places you can visit such a natural wonder with such proximity as you can by visiting Svínafellsjökull.

For those interested in seeing Svínafellsjökull you only need to drive a few kilometers east from Skaftafell on the Ring Road and turn left to drive the short distance to Svínafellsjökull.

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Svínafellsjökull on the map of Iceland

There are many reasons why you want to see a glacier tongue up close

A glacier tongue is a fascinating phenomenon in the Icelandic landscape. Glacier tongues can be seen in a number of places when you drive the Ring Road in the southern region.   A glacier tongue is really an enormous part of a glacier falling from the top or the ice cap down a long slope, sometimes hundreds of meters high.  Due to the mass of ice involved, the speed of the ice is very slow as it moves down the slope.

Svínafellsjökull glacier tongue is a accessible place to view the magnificent ice

 

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. 

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Skaftafell on the map of Iceland

In South Iceland, you will find the unique Skaftafell National Park