Landmannalaugar to Skaftafell National Park

The next morning we backtracked Route F26 to the Ring Road and turned eastward towards Skaftafell National Park. The landscape is less bleak than inland.

Many different types of waterfalls

       

(L) "Green roofs" - We think the buildings are for animals.        (R) Farm with rolls of hay

Kirkjugolf (church floor) (L) in Kirkjubaejarklaustur, a small village along the southern coast. The smooth top of basalt columns (R) look like floor tiles. We stayed two nights at Hotel Laki near Kirkjubaejarklaustur.

         
(L) Basalt columns on the black sand beach near Vik.     (R) Cave made of basalt columns near Vik

(L) Moss-covered lava field. Trolls and gnomes lurking?         (R) Occasional green mountain

(L) Vatnajokull, the earth's largest icecap outside the poles, in the background
(R) Farm with Vatnajokull hovering in the back

Skaftafell National Park

After Vik, we drove for hours on a delta/plain of sandar (silt, sand and gravel carried down by glacier bursts from volcanic activities) with occasional cliffs sticking up in the distance. We were about half way through our trip and all was going well. Extremely lucky that we have had driving/bus days when it has rained. It can be quite chilly and windy when it rains and even sometimes when sunny.

Vast area of sandar on approach to Skaftafell

We did a fantastic hike up Kristinartindar (3694 ft) in the Skaftafell National Park. We hiked all the way to top, even though the last 200 ft seemed very dicey with slippery rock underfoot. From there, we could see a glacier below to the east, all rippled, wrinkled and corrugated with both turquoise and white ice and lines of dirt. Overall, this was our longest hike, maybe 13 miles. After reaching the summit and then having fantastic views of the glacier on the way down, there was a final stretch on an annoying trail with too much vegetation - it went on and on and we could not tell how long to the end.

        Kristinartindar is between two vast glaciers

(L) Kristinartindar in the back. Note the vast crevasses in the foreground         (R) Trail to the top

Huge glacier 2000 ft below the summit

(L) Closeup of glacier crevasses                                 (R) Glacier lagoon with icebergs

       


(L) Kristinartindar summit is a wind-swept rugged knifeedge

The vastness of the mountains and glaciers can be appreciated in a video taken at the summit

       



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