Vatnajökulspjódgardur National Park might be one of the most popular tourists destinations in Iceland beside Reykjavik and Vik. The crowds that come with that popularity couldn’t keep us from enjoying all of the natural wonders that the largest glacier in Europe produces.
We followed the flow of ice from the lake to the ocean and its "Diamond Beach”. Washed up pieces of ice litter the beach and beautifully contrast the black sand underneath it. I refused to let John or Kendall touch the glass-like ice, because I could see the touch of humans speeding up the melting process, and I did not want us to contribute to it. We strolled up and down the beach watching the waves crash and wash new ice ashore. We eventually had to leave to meet our tour group for a hike atop a 'tongue' of Vatnajökull.
We met up with our tour group in the visitors' center parking lot. If you want to read more details about our glacier hike with Tröll Expeditions, click here.
We hiked atop Svínafellsjökull for almost 3-hours. It is a unique glacier created by years of snow and volcanic ash accumulation. If you have seen Interstellar, Batman Begins, or Die Another Day, you may have an idea of what our hour long hike looked like. When our tour was finished, our guide took us back to the visitors' center parking lot, and we started our hike to one of my favorite waterfalls.
Svartifoss is definitely worth the moderately strenuous 1.5 kilometer hike up the mountain. We took the S2 trail there and back, but there is an optional loop trail if you have more time than we did. The hike up to the waterfall is a little different than what we expected, because there were trees! These short, stubby trees were some of the only trees we would get close to in Iceland.
When we got to Svartifoss, I couldn't believe how fascinating it was. Layers upon layers of magma cooled and formed hexagonal shapes that were then carved out by the waterfall spilling over them. These columnar shapes are very famous. They can also be found in Vik, and they are the inspiration behind the architect of Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavik!
After our hike we cooked a quick dinner outside of Kuku Camper in the parking lot before driving to Vik's campsite for the night. It was a jammed back day on the ice of Vatnajökull Glacier in Vatnajökulspjódgardur National Park but we pushed through and had a blast hiking all over the park.