Snaefellsjokull National Park
Snefellsjokull is one of Iceland’s most popular national parks, the anchor of which is Snefellsjokull Glacier, covering an active volcano that towers over the country’s western peninsula.
On a clear day, you can sometimes see its snow-capped peak from Reykjavik, as it stands proudly at 1,446 metres high. A stunning site in and of itself, it was also made famous in Jules Verne’s ‘The Journey to the Centre of the Earth’, as it was where voyagers found the entrance to the centre of the earth.
Evidence of life beside the glacier dates back to 1,100 years ago, and are most likely the oldest-known remnants of the fishing industry in all of Scandinavia. There are a number of domed structures whose origins stretch back 500 to 700 years ago, plus a large church that was built in 1200.
The park’s lack of tall trees contributes to its barren appearance, but the flora and fauna are alive and well despite the chilly conditions. Seabirds are in abundance in this part of Iceland, along with foxes, minks, plus seals, killer whales and porpoises that hang around the peninsula.
Though there aren’t any formal campsites, backpackers are welcome to stay in the park for a night. Otherwise, visitors are confined to park paths, including those on bikes or horseback. Directly underneath the glacier is Vatnshellir Cave, which can be descended only by joining a guided tour led by park staff.