Iceland › Skaftafell, Iceland
Added by Lisa Bao
- Distance: 2 km (4 km round-trip)
- Walking time: 30 minutes to the glacier face
- Easy access to a view of the largest continental glacier in Europe
The glacier Skaftafellsjökull is an outlet of Vatnajökull, which is the largest continental glacier in Europe. It's a part of Skaftafell National Park, about half-way between Höfn and Vík in Southern Iceland.
Parking is easily found at the Skaftafell Visitor Centre and you can follow a paved path behind the building towards the face of the glacier. From the end of the paved section, a gravel path leads to the viewpoints. As you follow the path, there are several land markers that are meant to educate you on the local geology and history of the rapidly receding glacier. Pick up a brochure from the Visitor Center if you want to learn more as you follow the trail.
Since the glacier has retreated so quickly during the past few decades, there are clear indications of this that show up in the landscape. An example of this are the moraines, which are accumulations of dirt and rocks that have fallen onto the glacier surface or have been pushed along by the glacier as it moves. Also, be careful of quick sand in this area.
Once you get to the end of the trail, you have a number of views to take in of the glacier. If you dare, you can carefully explore and walk on the glacier; although it's advised that you go through the Visitor Center for official trips on the glacier.
- Warm gloves and jacket
- Crampons (if you choose to walk on the glacier)
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Lots of tourists end up here, so it tends to be crowded. However you can keep walking for as long as you like until the sand ends, so go in further and you pretty much have the glacier to yourself.
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