The Glacier Lagoon
Known as Jokulsarlon in Icelandic, the Glacier Lagoon this is one the country’s most iconic attraction. Famously framed in the background by the impressive Vatnajokull Icecap, the lagoon features an ever-changing canvas of icebergs freshly carved from the serrated edge of Breidamerkurjokull glacier tongue. They float gently and silently in the fresh blue water, but every now and then the scene is interrupted with an almighty crash as the bergs collapse and collide. If you stay long enough, you see them get caught in the stream of the natural river, taken under the bridge and delivered into the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean.
Now part of extensive Vatnajokull National Park, Skaftafell
is a masterpiece of nature, illuminated by the frozen white glacial heights of Vatnajokull, and darkened to the depths by the Skeidararsandur plains – vast stretches of black sandy wasteland and volcanic debris borne from volcanic eruptions underneath the icecap. In the middle lies the Skaftafell plateau, a dynamic feast for the senses, where gorges with busy brooks, beautiful waterfalls and birch woods, of magnificent proportions, meet a wealth of wild flowers and lush vegetation.
Skaftafell Vatnajökull National Park
Trails in this area are mostly found on the Skaftafellsheidi (Skatfafell health) and lead to numerous breath-taking waterfalls. Save some breath for the most majestic of them all though – the stunning Svartifoss, or “Black Falls” – a wonder of natural architecture plunging over a wall of symmetrical basalt columns resembling a pipe-organ.
Covering a surface area of around 8,100km2 Vatnajokull is Europe’s largest glacier pressing its force down upon more than 8% of the country. The average ice thickness is 400m, though it can reach a maximum of 950m in places. Iceland’s highest mountain, Oreafajokull occupies one of the southern extremities of this mutli-tongued monster, with Iceland’s highest peak Hvannadalshnukur, extending to a height of 2,110m.
Hofn simply means harbour and as its name suggests it’s a bustling fishing village and port. With the giant Ice-cap of Vatnajökull framed in the background, Höfn has perhaps the most impressive backdrop of any other in the country. As well as being a commercial centre, the village is also known for its agriculture and farming community.