South Iceland Travel Tips
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The former national park at Skaftafell has now become part of the new Vatnajökull National Park – the largest in Europe.
Skaftafell is famous for its variety. There are few other places in Iceland where one can be surrounded by a glacier, stark mountains, lush trees and vegetation, rivers and barren sand plains all at the same time. Skaftafell has its very own microclimate, making it warmer and sunnier than most of South Iceland.
Skaftafell is a beautiful, and large, oasis of greenery and animal life sandwiched between Europe´s largest glacier, Alp-like mountains and the extensive, bleak floodplains. Needless to say, it is a very special place.
Here´s another suggestion for a waterfall right next to Route 1 that is well worth a stop. This is the famous Icelandic waterfall which you can walk behind. You´ve probably heard of it or seen it on TV.
The picturesque Seljalandsfoss is tall and thin, like a ribbon of white dangling down the cliff. Because of its height it throws up a lot of spray, creating a treacherous but beautiful ice kingdom in winter and a multitude of rainbows in summer.
Here is where you go if you want to see the deadliest volcano in recorded human history. Laki killed half of Iceland´s livestock in 1783-4 and a quarter of its people. In addition to this, it also spewed out enough ash and toxic gas to kill an estimated six million people worldwide.
Luckily today Laki is quite safe and a perfect excuse to take a trip inland to the unequalled space and strangeness of the Icelandic highlands where the black sand, grey rock and matte green moss make a unique and memorable sight.
Eyjafjallajökull was the Icelandic word on the world´s lips during the 2010 eruption which caused widespread travel chaos – at least it would have been if anybody could actually pronounce it.
Luckily, you don´t have to be able to say the word to visit this South Iceland glacier and since the eruption there has been a constant stream of visitors wanting a closer look.
Tourist services in the area have responded and plenty of tours are now available – but be warned, the top of a glacier is no place to be without an experienced guide!
Of all the difficult to reach highland locations in Iceland, Landmannalaugar is probably the most popular – and deservedly so.
The area is known for its abundant hot water for au-naturel bathing and for its bizarrely coloured ryolite mountains with their shades of yellow, gold, purple and green.
Landmannalaugar is a bit too much to ask of a small car; but is accessible in summertime to most 4x4s.
The Mount Hekla volcano is the gateway to Hell. At least that´s what people once thought. And having blown its lid more than 20 times since Iceland was settled, it´s not hard to see why.
When Hekla is quiet, she is still an impressive sight and a formidable climb. The snow capped peak is 1,491 metres tall and is covered in reminders of its volcanic past – truly a geologist´s dream.
Hekla last erupted in 2000.
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