Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Travel

5 things to know about the Skaftafell region in Southeast Iceland

By Agnes Valdimarsdóttir

  • Peak Hvannadalshnjúkur Iceland's highest mountain at 2,110 meters (or nearly 7,000 ft).

  • Ragged mountain tops with the white cap of Hvannadalshnjúkur peak behind. 

  • Spring is the best season for hiking to the top of Hvannadalshnjúkur peak. Be prepared for the wather to change in an instance.

  • Happy at the summit! When the sky is clear nothing beats the view from the top of Iceland's highest mountain.

  • We recommended that you should not hike on a glacier without an experienced guide. Crevasses can be quite hidden and potentially dangerous.

Nature's diversity is nowhere as spectacular in Iceland as in the Skaftafell region. Formed over thousands of years by the devastating powers of volcanos and glaciers the landscape is a concoction of lush green valleys and glacial tongues edged by jagged mountain tops. Here we bring you 5 things you need to know about the region.

PHOTOS BY VILHELM GUNNARSSON

1 Vatnajökull glacier
is Iceland’s largest glacier and the largest ice cap in Europe by volume (3,100 km cubed). In 1950, an airplane operated by the Icelandic airline Loftlei•ir crash-landed on the glacier and never flew again. Its abandoned fuselage can be seen in the Sigur Rós documentary Heima. The glacier was also used in the James Bond classic, A View to Kill—notably the last time Roger Moore played the secret agent. And last but not least, Vatnajökull’s latest claim to fame was in the second season of the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones

2 Peak Hvannadalshnjúkur
Hvannadalshnjúkur is a summit crater on the Öræfajökull volcano in Vatnajökull National Park. It’s the highest point in Iceland and stands at 2,110 meters (or nearly 7,000 ft). The peak can be climbed, but it’s recommended that you do it with an experienced guide, as crevasses in the mountain can be quite hidden and potentially dangerous.

3 Lakagígar Craters
Lakagígar (Laki craters) is a 25 km row of 135 craters west of Vatnajökull glacier, formed during the biggest volcanic eruption ever recorded in Iceland’s history (1783-1874). The eruption caused poisonous ash to spread over to Europe and North America, ruining crops and causing famine, making it one of the deadliest eruptions in history. The lava from Lakagígar swallowed multiple villages and farms, and still covers approximately 600 km2. 

4 Svartifoss Waterfall
Svartifoss waterfall (Black Falls) flows over a drop of about 20 meters between columns of black basalt. What’s interesting is that once you’ve visited Black Falls and seen the basalt columns, you’ll be able to see how this natural formation has provided inspiration to architecture in Reykjavik. Both Hallgrímskirkja church and the National Theatre in Reykjavik recall the majestic basalt columns that surround Svartifoss.

5 Hiking Routes
Hiking routes in Skaftafell are abundant. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just want to walk around and get lots of fresh air, you’re in the right place. Hiking maps are available available at the Visitor Center in Skaftafell, so everyone should be able to find something that suits their ability and wishes. You can even hike around Skaftafell glacier at the Vatnajökull ice cap without too much difficulty.

Lakagígar craters. A 25 km row of 135 craters west of Vatnajökull glacier. 

Svartifoss waterfall (Black Falls). The hinking route to the fall is one of Iceland's greates walks.
 
 

 

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