Vatnajökull National Park ranks among the largest and most beautiful parks in Europe.
The park includes not only all of Vatnajökull glacier but also extensive areas like Skaftafell in the south-west, and Jökulsárgljúfur in the north. Today the park covers 13% of Iceland.
Few other places in the world exhibit the effects of such a wide range of natural phenomena as Vatnajökull, where the battle between ice and fire still rages, created by the combined forces of rivers, glacial ice, and volcanic and geothermal activity.
The Skaftafell is the hill where farmers settled to avoid the floods from the giant glacier. You will find well-established hiking paths up the hill, where you can access viewpoints that look across the glaciers, several stunning waterfalls, and a mixture of fauna and bird life.
The high point of the hill is around 600m and takes around two hours to reach the highest point. One of the highlights of the trek is Svartifoss (Black Falls), with stunningly beautiful black basalt columns around the falls. There is a road that goes to quite near the top allowing disabled access to the stunning views.
Located in the northern part of Vatnajökull National Park, Jökulsárgljúfur takes its name from a canyon formed by Iceland's second longest river, Jökulsá á Fjöllum. Enormous, catastrophic glacial bursts are believed to have carved out the deep ravines and rocky basins, the most famous of which is Ásbyrgi.
Not far from Ásbyrgi is Dettifoss Waterfall, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, with 500 cubic metres per second plummeting over the edge. A hiking trail goes along the canyon from Dettifoss to Ásbyrgi.
The biggest glacial lagoon of its kind in Iceland is also located close by the Vatnajökull National Park. Easily accessible off Route 1, between Skaftafell and Höfn, the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon formed as a result of a glacial retreat, when the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier began to recede away from the Atlantic, resulting in a picturesque lake where icebergs float.
You will find a lot of adventures offered by local tour operators here.
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