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Iceland: Skaftafell

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Skaftafell | Iceland | Europe

[Visited: November 2008]

When I approached Skaftafell from the east, the sun was finally making some progress after having tried hard ever since I saw it rise that morning on the beach off Jökulsárlón. As I parked at the visitor centre at the entrance of the park, I noticed there was only one other car. While this area apparently is extremely popular in summer, it gets very few visitors in winter. Indeed, I would not see any in a few hours of hiking in the area. I headed straight to Svartifoss, passing another, smaller waterfall on the way. Ice was already forming on the sides. I continued on the path following a small valley; soon, Svartifoss presented itself.

Picture of Skaftafell (Iceland): Skaftafellsjökull glacier in Skaftafell National Park

From a distance, Svartifoss seemed like a small waterfall, but once I got closer and was standing on the icy rocks at the bottom of the valley, I was struck by the beauty of this waterfall. The oddly shaped rocks from which the gently spray of icy water was falling, the pleasant sound of Svartifoss, not disturbed by any other sound, the solitude of the area, the bluish white ice forming under the waterfall... It was not easy to move on and away from this friendly fall. Once higher up, I was happy I did, however, since an incredibly rugged and attractive landscape unfolded before my eyes. The low shrubbery around me brown and red, ahead, and higher, I could see snow-capped mountains. A little further on, I reached Sjónarnípa, at the edge of the small plateau on which I had been walking.

Picture of Skaftafell (Iceland): Waterfall in Skaftafell National Park

Clambering down a little bit over some rocks took me to a point from where I enjoyed a fabulous view over the Skaftafellsjökull, the blue-white-grey glacier below me, branching off the gigantic Vatnajökull icecap - the largest icecap in the world after those at the poles. Century-old ice forcing its way down this valley, while at a distance I could see the streams flowing off to the sea. A majestic sight. On my way back down, the cloud cover lifted almost completely and the sun cast a delicate pink-orange light on the thick snow cover of Hvannadalshnúkur and other mountains. Again, for the umpteenth time that day, I was speechless at this beauty of nature. Walking fast enabled me to be just in time to visit the rapidly receding Skatfafellsjökull glacier face and its small lake. While the sunlight was gone, the glacier seemed to emit a bluish light, while the peaks I had just before seen glaring orange, now were reflected in black colours in the ice on the small glacier lake.

Picture of Skaftafell (Iceland): Snow-capped Hvannadalshnúkur in Skaftafell National Park
Picture of Skaftafell (Iceland): Valley with Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell National Park
Picture of Skaftafell (Iceland): Water coming down into an icy pond at Svartifoss waterfall
Picture of Skaftafell (Iceland): Looking east from Skaftafell National Park
Picture of Skaftafell (Iceland): Sunset falling over the face of Skaftafellsjökull and its glacier lake
Picture of Skaftafell (Iceland): Shadows on the snow of a mountain slope at Skaftafell
Picture of Skaftafell (Iceland): View on a mountain top from Skaftafell National Park

Around the World in 80 Clicks

Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Skaftafell (Iceland). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Skaftafell.
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