Vatnajökull: A Jewel of Iceland

Vatnajökull (Photo credit: Klaus)

Vatnajökull, with an average thickness of over 1300 feet and an area of approximately 5033 square miles, is one of the largest glaciers in Europe and the single largest glacier in Iceland. It is an amazing natural beauty that nature lovers from all over the world come to see. In 2008, this gigantic glacier became part of Vatnajökull National Park, the largest national park in Europe at about 7456 square miles. That is 12 percent of the entire island of Iceland!

The harsh conditions of a glacial plane contribute to the fact that the area boasts some of the most pristine wilderness to be found in the world. Many travelers enjoy the thrill of speeding across the ice cap on a snowmobile; it is wide open, flat, and obstacle free, and makes for some fast riding!

The glacier, as is the norm in Iceland, is located over multiple volcanoes. Together, the volcanic activity and the ice cap form multiple tuyas (flat-topped volcanic mountains that form when lava erupts through a glacier) and volcanic lakes. A popular destination in the area is the black sand dunes formed from fractured volcanic fragments.

There are many other attractive features of this wonderful wilderness. At night, visitors can see the fantastic colors and movement of the polar auroras, or Northern Lights. The Glacial Lagoon is an exotic attraction that features pristine water and majestic blue icebergs. Located to the south of the glacier is Hvannadalshnúkur, the highest peak in Iceland with a height of approximately 6921 feet; with an experienced mountain guide, adventurous visitors can enjoy one of the greatest views in all of Europe!

Vatnajökull is a wonderful destination for lovers of the outdoors and appreciators of pristine northern wilderness. Iceland is truly a natural treasure and offers some of the most exotic terrain in the Northern hemisphere. A trip to this area is one that is not to be missed.

See also