Iceland: Gerði to Skaftafell (Glacier hike in Vatnajokull National Park – Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður)

This is post 7/10 of our Iceland trip in October 2017.

This sure is a long post title, huh? I do love the look of the Icelandic characters.

Day 7: Gerði to Skaftafell (Vatnajokull National Park – Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður): Today, our main activity was doing a glacier hike though this guiding company. I though the day’s hike was very well done (about a half day (honestly was a whole day’s activity between getting to the park entrance then transport to and from the glacier) and worth the about $140 per person they charge. Our guide was very informative and gave us all plenty of time to soak in the views and take pictures.

The glacier “tongues” are visible everywhere as you approach the entrance of Vatnajokull National Park from the north on the ring road. It is very beautiful but also sad that the tongues are all receding in the setting of climate change. We arrived at the visitor’s center and met up with the guiding company there. We got fitted for all our gear (definitely good that we had prepared appropriate hiking shoes and waterproof pants for this trip, they charge you to rent equipment if they feel like your gear won’t stand up to the vigors of the hike) including crampons, harnesses, helmets, and an icepick! We then got bused about 20 minutes to a nearby glacier used almost exclusively by this touring company (tourism is still somewhat unregulated in Iceland). There had been extensive flooding/melting that happened the past week before we came so you can see the large pond of water preceding the glacier. We then ascended some pretty steep stairs cut into the glacier and wandered around for quite a bit. Though not always strenuous, it’s good to pack lots of snacks and to be prepared to climb up and down a lot. We had a great time on the glacier and finished the day with a yummy veggie burger meal at a local gas station (not uncommon for them to have buffets for tourists at some of the rest stops). We stayed at Hotel Skaftafell which was convenient with gorgeous views (if you book early) of the glaciers.

Glacier tongue in the distance, a beautiful moss/flora
The flooding still apparent
Hike to the base of the glacier
Enjoying our crampons and icepicks
Gorgeous glacier blues. The dark soil is volcanic.
Rainbow of hikers


The flood plain below the glacier, worn down by millennia of glaciers eroding into the land
Sobering reminder of how much glaciers are receding (1925>2012)
View from Hotel Skaftafell room (recommend!)

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