Blue Ice Experience in Skaftafell | Easy Difficulty
Reach new peaks with this highly popular Blue Ice Experience, hiking and climbing the beautiful Svínafellsjökull outlet glacier, situated within Skaftafell Nature Reserve, in southeast Iceland.
You will begin your adventure at the Sales Lodge, next to the National Park Visitor's Centre, fifteen minutes prior to the tour departure. It is highly advised that you bring with you: rain gear, hiking boots, warm clothing and a packed lunch! Both boots and rain gear can be rented on site, for a small fee.
At the beginning of your 2-hour tour, your experienced mountaineering guide will run through the basic principles of glacier hiking, ensuring your safety on the ice, and will teach you about the formation of Svínafellsjökull, as well as life in the Skaftafell Nature Reserve.
They will also instruct you as to how to properly use crampons and ice axes, two required pieces of kit for this tour. Whilst this instruction occurs, the mountain peaks and the glistening blue glacier stretch out in a fantastic vista around you. When you're all kitted up for the hike, your guide will start the hike!
Svínafellsjökull is an outlet glacier, originating from the giant Vatnajökull glacier, in Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Your guides will lead you through a natural Eden of periwinkle blue ice ridges, deep crevasses and intricately formed ice sculptures. Throughout your tour, the surrounding scenery of Vatnajökull National Park is destined to take your breath away.
This tour is classified as 'moderate' regarding the difficulty level of the hike. Don't be deterred, however, as the glacier hike is easily accessible to all those in good health, are generally fit and able to walk on all terrain. There is very little carrying of equipment at Svínafellsjökull.
Grab your jacket and hike your way to the top of the always incredible Svínafellsjökull glacier! Check the booking availability by choosing a date.
- Available: All year
- Duration: 2 hours, 30 minutes
- Activities: Glacier Hiking
- Difficulty: Easy
- Minimum age: 8 years.
- Languages: English
- Highlights: Vatnajökull,
Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Iceland and the third largest glacier in Europe, covering 8% of the island's landmass. Vatnajökull Glacier can be found in the south west of Iceland and is a popular spot for glacier hiking and ice caving tours.
Facts about Vatnajökull
- Surface: 8,100 km2
- Average thickness: 400 - 600 m
- Maximum thickness: 1,000 m
- Height: 1,400 - 1,800 m
- Highest peak: 2,200 m (Hvannadalshnjúkur)
Information about Vatnajökull
Vatnajökull Glacier belongs to the greater Vatnajökull National Park, which encompasses the former national parks Skaftafell, in the southwest, and Jökulsárgljúfur, in the north. Vatnajökull's highest summit is Hvannadalshnjúkur which rests on top of a stratovolcano known as Öræfajökull.
Underneath the glacier rests some of the most active volcanoes in the country, the most notable being Grímsvötn, Öræfajökull and Bárðabunga. Volcanic activity in the region has occurred on and off throughout the centuries, and many geologists believe that such a period is overdue for immediate future. If their calculations are correct, it would mean significant volcanic activity for Vatnajökull over the scope of the next half century.
The glacier boasts of over 30 outlet glaciers, which are channels of ice that flow out of ice caps but remain constrained on the sides of the valley. The major outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull include Dyngjujökull in the north, Breiðamerkurjökull and Skeiðarárjökull to the south. To the west, one can find the outlet glaciers Síðujökull, Skaftárjökull and Tungnaárjökull.
Glaciers are in constant motion underneath their weight; as they form over the centuries, the accession of snow exceeds its melting, creating a constant "push" on the ice cap. Each year, due to the melting ice water, new ice caves form that disappear come spring.
- Click here for a selection of Ice Cave tours
Numerous rivers run out of Vatnajökull, making up some of the greatest glacial rivers in Iceland:
- Tungnaá (west)
- Köldukvísl (west)
- Þjórsá (west)
- Jökulsá á Fjöllum (north)
- Skjálfandafljót (north)
- Jökulsá á Brú (north east)
- Jökulsá í Fljótsdal (north east)
- Jökulsá í Lóni (south)
- Hornafjarðarfljót (south)
- Jökulsá á Breiðamerkursandi (south)
- Skeiðará (south)
- Núpsvötn (south)
- Hverfisfljót (south)
- Skaftá (south)
Vatnajökull National Park
Vatnajökull National Park, in its current state, was established in June 2008. The park now covers an area of 14.141 km2, making it the second largest national park in Europe. Vatnajökull National Park has 14% coverage over the whole island of Iceland.
Rivers divide the highland plateau to the north of the park; an area that sees massive glacial flows in the summertime. The volcanic table mountain Herðubreið towers over this particular region, along with volcanoes Askja, Snæfell and Kverkfjöll.
The canyon Jökulsárgljúfur was carved out by glacial floods centuries ago. At the upper end of the canyon, you'll find Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Further north, the horseshoe-shaped canyon Ásbyrgi is believed to have formed when Óðinn's horse, Sleipnir, stepped his foot down from the heavens.
East around Snæfell, one can find wetlands and ranges, home to roaming herds of wild reindeer and abundant birdlife. Steep mountain ridges make up the south side of Vatnajökull, where outlet glaciers crawl in between the ridges onto the lowlands. The sandy plains of Skeiðarársandur also lie to the south as they reach out to sea. The glacial river Skeiðará runs through this vast desert.
One of Iceland's most visited landmarks is the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, which sits at the head of outlet glacier Breiðamerkurjökull. There, large icebergs that have broken off the glacier gather to float in the lake before ending up in the Atlantic Ocean, or on the nearby Diamond Beach.
- Click here for a selection of Jökulsárlón tours
The Future of Vatnajökull
The volume of Vatnajökull reached its peak around 1930 but has since been in a steady process of decline. Because of rising levels of global temperature, approximately over the last 15 years, Vatnajökull has on average lost about a metre of its thickness annually.
If temperature levels continue to rise, the glacier could be all but gone nearing the end of the next century, leaving only small ice caps on top of the highest mountain summits.
Vatnajökull and Jökulsárlón in Popular Culture
- HBO's Game of Thrones (season 2, 2012)
- Batman Begins (2005)
- James Bond: Die Another Day (2002)
- James Bond: A View to a Kill (1985)
Svínafellsjökull in an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull, the largest ice cap in Europe, found within the Skaftafell Nature Reserve in Iceland's south-east.
It is one of the most popular glacier tongues to hike, with some tours upon it lasting throughout the year; ice climbing is also possible here. Because of its dramatic ridges, plunging crevasses, spectacular views and vivid blue and white colouration, it was used in Game of Thrones Season 7 to represent the harsh lands North of the Wall.
Photo above from Svinafellsjokull Glacier Hiking Tour
Departure time : 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 14:30, 15:00
Icelandic Mountain Guides Sales Lodge (next to the National Park Visitor Center) 15 min. prior to departure
What to bring:
Good to know:
Available all year: Every day at 10:00, 10:30, 14:00 and 14:30. July 1st to August 31st: Every day at 10:00, 10:30 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 14:30 and 15:00