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Mýrdalsjökull Glacier

Mýrdalsjökull Glacier

Mýrdalsjökull is the fourth largest glacier in Iceland and has many outlets. Underneath Mýrdalsjökull is the volcano Katla, which is a very active volcano that erupts on average every 40-60 years. The last known eruption was in 1918. The ice cap that covers Katla is massive, up to 750 meters thick. Mýrdalsjökull can be experienced and enjoyed with Arcanum, which operates snowmobile tours to the top of the glacier. These trips are unique and give you the opportunity to experience the glacier and enjoy the magnificent view from the top. On the way and of course on the top you can take pictures and film to treasure your experience. Close to Mýrdalsjökull are many attractions that are worth visiting after a great trip to the top of the glacier.

Mýrdalsjökull covers around 600 square kilometres and is the fourth largest glacier in Iceland. It is also the southernmost glacier in Iceland. Mýrdalsjökull has many smaller outlet glaciers. Goðabunga is the highest peak with its 1515 meters above sea level. Hábunga is the second highest peak, 1505 meters. This height is though changeable as both peaks are covered in snow and melting of snow or more snow can change the results of the measurements.

Mýrdalsjökull is located north of the small town of Vík í Mýrdal, east of Eyjafjallajökull (which dominated world news in 2010 when it erupted and disturbed flight traffic in Europa for days). Fimmvörðuháls, which is one of the most popular walking routes in the Icelandic wilderness, lies between Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull. The main driving route, Route 1, lies close to Mýrdalsjökull and the glacier can be viewed when traveling on Route 1.

Vík í Mýrdal is a small coastal village at the foothills of Mýrdalsjökull. Puffins, black sand, basalt columns and unique rock formation in the ocean is what characterise this small village. 

Skógafoss waterfall lies west of Mýrdalsjökull, not far from Fimmvörðuháls. This is one of the largest and most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. The waterfall is 25 meters in width and the water drop 60 meters. A walking trail leads to the top of the waterfall and on into valley from the right side of the waterfall. According to folktales a treasure is buried in a cave behind the waterfall. Trekking trail, on the east side of Skógafoss, leads to Fimmvörðuháls. At Skógafoss one of the best folk museums, Byggðasafnið að Skógum, in Iceland is located. From Skógar Route 1 lies eastwards along the foothills of Mýrdalsjökull.

Þórsmörk is a nature reserve that lies between three glaciers, Eyjafjallajökull, Mýrdalsjökull and Tindafjallajökull. It is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Iceland. Þórsmörk is in fact a valley and a mountain range but when locals talk about Þórsmörk they refer to a much larger area. Þórsmörk is unique as there you find lush oases and powerful glacier rivers running through black desert landscape. The walking trail, Fimmvörðuháls, stretches to Þórsmörk from between Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull.

On a cloudless day the view from Mýrdalsjökull is magnificent. It is impossible to describe the view in words, it is something one must experience. It is not only the southern coast that is visible from Mýrdalsjökull, Vestmannaeyjar (Vestman Islands) are also visible on a cloudless and clear day. From Vík í Mýrdal (which is right below Mýrdalsjökull) there are around 60 km to Vestman Islands.

Below the massive ice cap, the volcano Katla is located. Katla is an active volcano that has erupted every 40-60 years on average for centuries. The last eruption was in 1918. Katla is believed to be one of the most powerful volcanos in the world. Katla is believed to be around 30 km in diameter. The caldera is believed to be around 10 km in diameter and 600-700 meters deep.

Thick ice cap lies on the top of Katla, on average it is around 250 meters thick but in some parts the thickness is up to 750 meters. It is on this ice cap our customers drive on their way to the top of Mýrdalsjökull but Arcanum offers snow scooter tours to the top of the glacier. During these tours, that last from one hour, participants can enjoy the breathtaking glacier and the view. 

The view from “below” in the southern part of Iceland is great but a new world opens when one can enjoy the view from the “top”. The view does though depend on weather conditions as they can limit the view from the glacier. The best way to enjoy this magnificent view is by traveling to the top of Mýrdalsjökull with Arcanum on snow scooter. All necessary equipment is provided by us in these snow scooter tours, but a valid driving license is needed to drive the scooters.

We offer tours from our base at Ytri-Sólheimar 1 in Vík. We also offer day tours from Reykjavík where we pick you up at your accommodation and take you to our base where we prepare you for the trip to the top of Mýrdalsjökull. Our base is located at Ytri-Sólheimar 1 at the foothills of Mýrdalsjökull so the trip from the base to the glacier is short. We take you up to the glacier, where the snow scooters are located, in our super-truck, and from there we proceed the journey to the top of the glacier. The location of our base makes us the ideal travel partner as we are located so close to the glacier that we are always well aware of how the condition up on the glacier are.

If you want to experience wilderness and unspoiled nature our snow scooter tours to the top of Mýrdalsjökull are what you are looking for. Wilderness, unspoiled nature, breathtaking view, ice cap almost as far as you can see and driving on top of one of the most powerful volcanos in the world is an unforgettable experience. You will of course have an opportunity to take pictures and film during the glacier tours so you can have great remembrances of a trip to the top of a glacier that covers an active volcano.

In the last three decades Mýrdalsjökull has changed a lot like many other glaciers in Iceland and has shrunk. This is well visible on pictures that can be found on the NASA webpage. This is due to global warming which is causing ice to melt. Sólheimajökull, which is one of the glaciers that is adjoint to Mýrdalsjökull, has also shrunk in the last decades and has on average lost 50 meters of its length every year. So Mýrdalsjökull and other glaciers in Iceland are changing rapidly and no one knows how they will look in the future.

East of Mýrdalsjökull is Mýrdalssandur which is a large outwash. The boundaries of Mýrdalssandur are the river Kúðafljót in the east and the river Múlakvísl in the west. Water from Mýrdalsjökull runs in both rivers and out into the ocean. The Mýrdalssandur coastline is 35 km long and includes Kötlutangi which is the southernmost point of Iceland.

Mýrdalssandur is strongly related to Mýrdalsjökull as the outwash was created by numerous glacial outburst floods from Mýrdalsjökull during eruptions in the volcano so material from Katla is what Mýrdalssandur is made of. Mýrdalssandur is worth visiting after a tour to the top of Mýrdalsjökull. The contrasts are huge, bleak and desolated sand instead of white ice cap. But be aware, some say Mýrdalssandur is haunted, at least it is very spooky at times.

Arcanum snowmobile tours to the top of Mýrdalsjökull are a great start of exploring and experiencing the southern part of Iceland. Go to the top of the glacier and enjoy the view and of course the great trip to the top. If you have never travelled on snowmobile before you will be amazed how easy it is and how great this way of travelling is, freedom and closeness to the nature. When you come down from Mýrdalsjökull again it is almost a “must” to go to Mýrdalssandur and experience the unbelievable contrast the sand is compared to the glacier. It is also worth the visit at Mýrdalssandur to see what kind of soil the glacier has pushed away in glacier flooding through the history. Soil that you can not see when driving on the glacier on our snowmobiles.

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