Skaftafell National Park

The landscape is very similar to the Alps, but it has been formed over thousands of years by different influences of fire (volcanic eruptions of Öræfajökull) and water (the glaciers Skeiðarájökull and Skaftafellsjökull), the rivers Skeiðará, Morsá und Skaftafellsá. Volcanic eruptions under the ice-cap can give rise to jökulhlaups (glacial floods) which swell the Skeiðará river massively. The sandy wasteland between the glacier and the sea caused by jökulhlaups is called Skeiðarársandur, and is a typical outwash plain known locally as a sandur. The last large jökulhlaup occurred in 1996.

When Vatnajökull National Park was founded in the summer of 2008, the former Skaftafell National Park became part of it. Skaftafell has been protected since 1967, with the aim of opening it up to the public while also conserving its flora and fauna, landscape and cultural remains.

Open all year, the Skaftafell Visitor Centre serves the Southern Territory of Vatnajökull National Park and provides information on the park and its environs, trails, nature and history, as well as on other recreation and services. Display boards at the Centre describe the intertwined history of people and nature at Skaftafell. Skaftafell has a selection of hiking trails, and the spacious campground has facilities for tents, folding camping trailers and camping vehicles. While the campground only stays open from 1 May to 30 September, camping in other seasons is possible after obtaining permission from park personnel.

In the summertime, park rangers offer guided walks and various additional events are also offered, such as lectures and children’s activities.

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