Iceland: Hiking Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park

I’m back with another Iceland trip recap! I’m sharing 3 more posts, including this one, about 3 of the best hikes we did while in Iceland. I hope some of you traveling there will check them out, too – and that everyone else will enjoy reading about them and be inspired to have your own outdoor adventures, whether overseas or in your own backyard! If you missed the first two Iceland trip posts, check those out first: Iceland Day 1 and Exploring the Glacier Lagoons.

With our friends Melli and Moritz

The hike we did in Skaftafell, which is a wilderness area in Iceland’s Vatnajökull National Park, was one of our favorites of the trip. The park is farther east in Iceland, near the town of Hof.

We did an all-day hike – I think we covered about 10 miles – and packed lunch with us as well as lots of snacks. I recommend packing a LOT of layers if you go hiking in Iceland – we went from a single pair of hiking pants, a t-shirt, and a rain jacket near the start of the hike to two pairs of hiking pants, a t-shirt, two long sleeved shirts, a warm jacket, and a rain jacket during the middle of the hike. Weather changes quickly! Be prepared. 🙂

I wore my trail running shoes, the Brooks Caldera (which I was gifted on my New Mexico trip with them earlier this year) during our entire Iceland trip and found them to be perfect – if you have big hiking shoes those will work, too, but you don’t have to have them. You do, however, need a good rain jacket for Iceland. I wore my trusty Marmot rain jacket and it worked well! I also recommend bringing a hat so the rain doesn’t get in your eyes. 🙂 Here I am later on in the hike rocking my other pair of hiking pants on top of the others, plus ALL the layers on top:

The hike we did (which was a hybrid of a bunch of trails, but I believe it was the “S3” route on this hiking in Skaftafell guide) started from the visitor’s center. We began in a bit of a forest, which was cool – Iceland doesn’t have many trees!

Soon we had a beautiful view of the glacier looming ahead.

As you can see, I was lagging behind a bit – both to take pictures and because it was steep and hiking uphill when you are pregnant is harder than it used to be. 🙂 I definitely found myself getting more easily out of breath! I just took breaks when I needed to. Overall, though, I found I felt pretty normal – 14 weeks was definitely good timing to be on a hiking trip overseas – my energy was mostly back and I wasn’t super weighed down yet by a big belly!

By the time we got closer to the glacier, the weather had gotten WAY colder and insanely windy – yikes! The type of wind where if you jump up into the air you land 2 feet from where you started. Ack!

We took a couple quick pictures and then headed back to the trail and towards the other side of the mountain, hoping for a break in the wind!

We had beautiful views of the snow capped mountains around us, even with the clouds!

I spy the waterfall Svartifoss, our next destination stop!

It’s surrounded by dark lava columns – cool!

With my girl Melli. 🙂

Time for lunch with a view – hummus sandwiches with various fruit and veggies on the side again!

From the waterfall you can either go back along the same way you came, or continue on – there’s a shorter option where you turn left back towards the parking area only a little ways farther along, or a longer route, which is what we chose.

The second half of this hike was my favorite – the wind wasn’t strong on this side, and we basically had the entire trail to ourselves – most people went back via the shorter route. It was so beautiful out there!

After awhile we started descending towards a canyon.

The bridge down there was our destination – we crossed it, then went left for the hike back.

Made it!

The last few miles of the hike were on this relatively flat and open valley of what appeared to be lava rock. It was kind of long, but cool!

As we approached the campground and the parking area, we were treated to a hike finale – a beautiful rainbow! With all the rain we got to see a lot of rainbows while in Iceland. 🙂

What a fun day – there’s nothing like spending an entire day out in nature. We all arrived back at the parking lot totally exhausted but happy. 🙂

What’s your favorite long hike that you’ve done?

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