Skaftafell Ice Climbing & Glacier Hike Tour
Experience the wild with this exhilarating expeditionary hike and ice climbing tour of the Svínafellsjökull glacier tongue, one of Skaftafell National Park's most intriguing wonders.
At the car park by the Skaftafell Information Centre, you will meet your friendly and highly-trained guide, who will quickly proceed to teach you the basic principles of using ice axes and ropes, as well as the best method for navigating the often uneven terrain, thus ensuring your safety on the glacier.
Your guide will be quick to distribute all of the necessary equipment for the journey, including crampons and ice axes. They will also be eager to teach you more details about both the National Park and the glacier itself, its geological makeup and centuries' old formation.
When you're ready to begin the adventure, you will be driven to Svínafellsjökull, just one of the many glacier tongues that make up Vatnajökull, Europe's largest glacier. As soon as you step onto the ice cap, you will have an incredible perspective of the surrounding mountains, including the country's tallest peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur, instantly recognisable to fans of HBO's Game of Thrones.
The journey continues on foot, and you will soon be trekking through the majesty of a white blanketed wilderness; the silence is only broken by the sounds of your boots treading the snow and ice.
You will be surrounded by fascinating natural phenomena, such as a glacier moulin—best described as a vertical canyon that cuts deep into the ice cap—and age-old ice sculptures, turned electric blue due to the ancient oxygen trapped inside.
Throughout your hike, you will have the opportunity to try climbing with ice axes, adding an extreme edge to this largely picturesque tour.
Hurry now and you too can experience the incredible thrill of scaling one of nature's most magnificent giants, the mighty Svínafellsjökull glacier. Check availability now by choosing a date.
- Available: All year
- Duration: 4 hours
- Activities: Glacier Hiking, Ice Climbing, Sightseeing
- Difficulty: Easy
- Minimum age: 12 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)
Skaftafell is a nature preserve in Oraefasveit. It used to be a national park of its own but joined the larger Vatnajokull National Park in 2008.
Skaftafell is notable for its rich flora, growing between sands and glaciers, and overall for its amazing and contrasting scenery. You can take short and easy trails to the waterfalls Svartifoss and Hundafoss, as well as Skaftafell glacier, with the mountain Kristinartindar and Morsardalur valley further off.
Skaftafell is also the perfect base camp for those seeking to climb Iceland’s highest peak, Hvannadalshnukur.Svínafellsjökull
Photo from Svinafellsjokull Glacier Hiking Tour
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.
Departure time : 12:00
Ice Climbing Boots
Crampons / Spikes for your shoes
What to bring:
Waterproof / Windproof outerwear.
Fun and Energy
Good to know:
The difficulty of the Ice Climb is tailored to each individual. Your personal abilities and physical condition will be taken into account when the ice wall, which you will climb, is selected.