A Truly Magnificent Region of South East Iceland
The Vatnajökull region is the home of Vatnajökull Glacier, Europe’s largest glacier. The region, which embraces over 200km of Iceland’s ring road is easily accessible and is known for its stunning contrasts of nature. Magical glacial lagoons, thundering rivers, glistening waterfalls, black sand beaches and icy-blue ice caves are just some of the natural gems that can be found within its borders.
Endless adventures start here
One of the most exciting things about visiting the area are the two glacial lagoons, Jökulsárlón and Fjallasárlón, both within easy reach of the ring road. Calving icebergs often tinged with a beautiful luminous blue, float lazily through the lagoon and on out to sea, creating dazzling ice sculptures that later wash up on the beach, known as the Diamond Beach. Seals can often be seen swimming in the lagoon or resting on icebergs and is one of the prime spots in Iceland to observe seals at a relatively close range.
Many sea birds such as Arctic terns and skuas frequent the area in search of herring, trout, salmon and krill. You will find several companies located nearby that offer activities such as boat and zodiac tours of the lagoon, ice cave tours, glacier walking tours and glacial lagoon kayaking tours. From easy, family-friendly tours, such as puffin watching in Ingólfshöfði, sea kayaking, hiking and horse riding, to vigorous day-long activities like ice climbing and mountaineering tours, there is no lack of enjoyable things to do.
For the ultimate in excitement, you can explore the glacier by way of a riveting super jeep or snowmobile tour or experience Iceland from above with sightseeing flights, or “flightseeing tours” by small plane or helicopter.
For more relaxed tours, consider one of several slow adventure activities on offer in the area.
Vatnajökull National Park
Within the Vatnajökull region lies Vatnajökull National Park, Europe’s 2nd largest national park with over 14,000 square km or roughly 14% of Iceland. The park is also home to Iceland’s tallest peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur, 2110m high. From the Skaftafell Visitor Center visitors can go on any number of beautiful day hikes, long or short, including the popular hike to Svartifoss waterfall.
Well situated just off of Road #1, (the ring road) the attractive harbor town of Höfn í Hornafjörði, known simply as Höfn, makes an excellent base for further exploration. With a population around 1,800 inhabitants, the town and its surrounding area boast a number of comfortable hotels, guest houses, hostels and camping sites, a supermarket, petrol stations, a pharmacy, as well as a few notable restaurants known for their fresh langoustine dishes.
Visits to the glacier and the ice caves can only be done with a local guide and should never be attempted by oneself. Last but not least, there is always some risk involved when visiting Iceland’s beautiful nature, so please check the weather forecast before heading out, stay on marked paths and obey any warning signs that are posted.
To see the full scope of all that the Vatnajökull Region has to offer, please see our website: https://visitvatnajokull.is/
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