About Vatnajökull Iceland's Largest Glacier

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Jökulsárlón, the glacier lagoon of Vatnajökull the largest glacier in Iceland

Vatnajökull. The Big One. When you look at a map of Iceland, it's the rather large white spot in the south-east. It covers about 8% of the country’s surface (around 8100 km2) and is the origin of many rivers and lakes. In fact, the name Vatnajokull means, "the river glacier" since it is the source of so many.  Like all the big glaciers in Iceland, it has an active volcano underneath the ice - actually Vatnajokull has several. One is called Grímsfjall.  Its last eruption was in the spring of 2011. Usually, when a volcano erupts underneath a glacier, it creates something called a glacial flood burst (in Icelandic Jokulhlaup). This sudden melting of ice can, and has, created huge and destructive floods.

Vatnajökull, besides being the largest glacier in Iceland and Europe (by volume), apparently holds the Guinness Book of World Records for "World’s Longest Sight Line” as it is said that the glacier can be seen from Slættaratindur, the Faroe Islands’ highest mountain - more than 500 km away!

And, as if that weren't enough, Iceland´s highest mountain, Hvannadalshnjúkur, is technically within Vatnajokull; it dominates the southern part of the glacier.  Despite being “only” 2,110 meters high, hiking to the summit is easier than one might think. It is certainly physically challenging to get to the top but, technically it is not complicated. The presence of numerous crevasses and ever-changing weather still calls for expert guidance. This is certainly an adventure well worth the effort.

Vatnajökull National Park has many amazing areas. Svínafellsjökull is a breathtaking outlet glacier of Vatnajökull glacier and the scenery and views are simply stunning. This is where many of our Glacier tours take place. Another is Skaftafell which is well known for its natural wonders and the activities available. Enjoy!

Hvannadalshnúkur, Iceland's highest summit
Björgvin Hilmarsson

About the Author

IMG Staff Writer

IMG Staff Writer

An anonymous but well informed member of our team that enjoys sharing their knowledge of Iceland & Greenland’s stunning nature.

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