Skaftafell Nature Reserve

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Established as a National Park with an area of 500 square km, Skaftafell Nature Reserve expanded twice and became a part of Vatnajökull National Park. Now a part of the reserve, the park is an Icelandic oasis letting you trail through waterfalls, forests, glaciers, and whatnot. Exploring Skaftafell Nature Reserve is an adventure in itself! The beauty envelopes a diverse selection of Iceland’s landscapes and other popular features. Skaftafell Nature Reserve is home to around 250 varieties of plant species and about an impressive 30 different types of birds are found there. The flora, birds, weather, and hiking trails are just the starting of the list of things that add to the breathtaking view of the majestic park. These elements in the park bring it together to be one of the ‘must-sees when in Iceland’! 

Skaftafell National Park in south Iceland

Location and How to Get There

Situated between the Kirkjubæjarklaustur village and the town of Höfn, Skaftafell Nature Reserve falls in the preservation area of Öræfi, South-East Iceland. At a 319 km distance from Reykjavík, it can easily be reached by following the Ring Road 1 along the south coast. Driving straight down the road, it is simple to follow route signs and reach the park. You will find a large parking lot and a visitor center in Skaftafell. You can talk to the people in the visitor center if you have any questions or need any tips regarding hiking trails or other similar things in the area. 

What You Will Find Buried in Skaftafell National Park

Skaftafell is considered to be one of the most beautiful works of nature in Iceland. The park makes a stunning backdrop with green meadows, black sands, and white glaciers. The most treasured jewel of the Vatnajökull Glacier, Skaftafell Nature Reserve shows diverse traits and elements in winters and summers. The winter sees the beautiful glaciers and icicles glowing sharp, while everything becomes green during the summers. You will of course still find the glacier in Skaftafell during the summer time, but the flora will blossom making it the most beautiful contrast. The flora will boasts its wonders along diverse hiking trails in the area. The white icy scenes turn into blue tranquil landscapes for a calm paradisiac painting.  

Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell National Park

Hiking in Skaftafell

You can find hiking trails all over Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Skaftafell is considered to be one of the best places in Iceland to go for a hike. One such easily marked trail starting at the visitor center leads to the glorious Svartifoss waterfall, one of the most unique gem of the Icelandic falls. The elegant veil of water drops from the meltwater of the grandest European glacier, Vatnajökull. With black volcanic basalt columns on either side of the cascading water, the unique hexagonal basalt formations make this a picturesque view in the Skaftafell region. Another mystical waterfall in the park is the Hundafoss Waterfall which lies just before the Svartifoss, making it an easy stop for those who don’t wish to hike as much.

Beautiful Ice Cave in Skaftafell Nature Reserve - Iceland Tours

Ice Caves in Skaftafell

Skaftafell offers for winter ice-cave tours with the famous Blue Ice Cave and many new forming each winter. Thin layers of ice compose a cave with a light penetrating through the delicate sheets of ice for a magical experience, located at the foot of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. Though unsafe to visit these caves in summers, new formations and flow of meltwaters render different caves every winter, for a different experience every single time!

It is necessary to join a guided tour to the ice caves. The ice cave guides know the glacier in and out and know what ice caves are safe to visit. 

Skaftafell National Park in south Iceland

Glacier Hiking in Skaftafell

Skaftafell is known for its magnificent glacier hiking tours. It is in fact the most popular location in Iceland to go glacier hiking, along with Solheimajokull glacier. You can find variety of different glacier hiking tours in skaftafell. The 3 hour glacier hike is the most popular one and suitable for everyone, even those who have never been on a glacier before. The 5 hour glacier hike is popular for those who have more time and want to see the glacier in more depth. During the winter time, you can also choose to go on a glacier hike that includes a visit to a natural blue ice cave. Many multi day tours also include a stop in Skaftafell Nature Reserve where you will go on a memorable glacier hike with your group. 

High Peaks to Explore

With Iceland’s highest summit rising to 2110 meters, the pyramidical peak, Hvanndalshnúkur is also a majestic scene not to be missed when visiting the park. The popular hiking trail must be explored with experienced guides and is situated on the northwestern side of the stratovolcano, Öræfajökull. The grand peak paints a tranquil view for the beholder and is a scene worth appreciating.

Kristínartindar - Skaftafell Nature Reserve Iceland Tour Booking

Skaftafell Visitor Centre and Nearby Accommodation

Any queries will be answered by the friendly helpers at the Skaftafell Visitor Center. Conveniently located right by the parking area, you can get all the information you require here, along with a cafeteria, souvenir shop and a free of cost documentary show. You can find help with accommodation or find numerous hotels nearby. For the campers at heart, the Skaftafell Nature Reserve also welcomes campers into their embrace. The all-year-round camping site can be accessed from the west of the parking lot after registering with authorities at the visitor center.  The campsite in Skaftafell is considered to be one of the best campsites in Iceland with all facilities that you might need. 

Skaftafell Nature Reserve on a map

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