The Magnificent Five
There are 269 named glaciers and glacier outlets in Iceland and they cover 11% of the country’s surface.
The glaciers in South Iceland, Vatnajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, Eyjafjallajökull, Höfsjökull in the central highlands and Langjökull in W-Iceland play a large part in Icelandic tourism. People coming from warmer areas where the temperature never goes below zero, consider a tour on a snowmobile or a glacier hike a big adventure. The five glaciers have one thing in common, their icecaps conceal sub-glacial volcanoes
Although all five glaciers are acessible to the adventurous tourist they can be a dangerous place for those who are unfamiliar with the weather conditions. The weather can change rapidly, the tour may start in a bright and sunny wheather and suddenly it changes and the wind comes in very strong. Therefore we recommend everyone to either go on an organized tour or hire a qualified glacier guide. A few tour companies offer snowmobile tours on Mýrdalsjökull, Vatnajökull and Langjökull, glacier walks on Sólheimajökull and glacier climb in Skaftafell National Park. Sólheimajökull is not far from Vik in Mýrdal and tourists staying there can easily glacier hike near Vik.
The largest glacier Vatnajökull, 1.300 ft. thick sits on top of two calderas and has ca. 30 outlet glaciers. The glacier was featured in the Bond movie A view to Kill and also in the second season of Game of Thrones. Snowmobiling tours and glacier hikes are available. Vatnajökull glacier and surroundings are now part of the Vatnajökull National Park which also include Skaftafell National Park in the south and Jökulsárgljúfur in the north. The national park is the largest in Europe and covers 13% of Iceland.
Mýrdalsjökull with the Katla volcanic caldera underneath the ice-cap is perfect for snowmobiling. Arcanum Glacier tours offers daily tours.
Sólheimajökull – a glacier tongue, regretfully losing ice due to the climate change. It’s perfect for a glacier hike with experienced guides, there are daily tours with Arcanum.
Eyjafjallajökul, famous or infamous ! Erupted in 2010 and the ash cloud disrupted travels for millions of people when numerous flights were cancelled. Tours for exploring the impact of the eruption on the landscape and the beautiful waterfalls close by are available.
Langjökull the second largest glacier has many tongues or snouts, crawling down to the lower areas. A new man made ice-cave was opened up a couple of years ago. The ice-tunnel and the cave give you an excellent opportunity to see how the glacier has formed through ages from within. Snowmobiling tours and Into the Glacier tours are available.
The smallest glacier in Iceland named OK has lost it’s title as a glacier - the first one of Icelandic glaciers. It’s now just OK mountain because the ice cap has to be thick enough to move and sink under it’s own weight to fit the category of a glacier.
Iceland is truly a land of ice and fire. Arcanum Glacier Tours offer snowmobile tours, glacier walks and quad biking with qualified guides, every day except Christmas day and New Year.
Mýrdalsjökull and Sólheimajökull are within Katla Geopark boundaries.