Day 7, SAT:
Vatnajökull National Park and the South
Skaftafell is today a part of the Vatnajökull National Park, the largest national park in Europe. The area nestles under the slopes of Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier and is dominated by Iceland’s highest peak Mount Hvannadalshnjúkur (2,110 meters). This area used to be one of the most isolated communities in Iceland because of the ice cap on its north, the harbourless sandy beach of the Atlantic Ocean to the south and the wild glacial rivers in the barren sands to the east and the west. The landscape has been formed through thousands of years by different influences of fire, ice and water and the mild climate is characteristic for Skaftafell compared to the rest of southern Iceland. We hike up to the waterfall Svartifoss (Black Fall), which is surrounded by black basalt columns, and from there to Sjónsker (View Cliff) where we have a magnificent view of Mount Hvannadalshnjúkur and the area that was flooded during an eruption under the ice cap in the year 1996. Now it is time to return towards Reykjavík. We cross the sandy desert of the south coast, overlooked by mountainous cliffs, glaciers and waterfalls. We stroll along the black lava beach and bird cliffs near the village of Vík and stop at Skógafoss waterfall before arriving back at Iceland’s capital.
Walking today: 2 hours, 5-6 km, elevation about 200 meters.
Driving distance: 340 km/211 miles