I was surprised by how civilized and well serviced the Skaftafell campground was. It’s the Icelandic equivalent of Yosemite Valley – the perfect first campsite for all newbie campers in a great location with easily accessed walks. But unlike Yosemite there was hardly anyone about. Everyone was very respectful – playing card games in front of their tents! The showers were like hot volcanic fire hoses and the little cafe had draft beer, meat soup and other delicacies including skyr and great coffee (of course, its Iceland!).
After our second coffee we took of up the hill to view Svartifoss. Spectacular imbedded in its setting of black vertical hexagonal basalt columns.
Hiking up further you come out onto the long finger-like spur of Kristínartindar stretching southwest between the huge glacier Skaftafellsjökull (actually a spur of the Vatnajökull ice cap) and the once glaciated valley of Morsárdalur. As you climb you get increasingly open views of the glacial flats stretching out to the sea where huge floods of water and rubble (a jökulhlaup) spurt out every time a volcano erupts under the great Icelandic ice cap Vatnajökull.
The view as you climb the spur gets better and better. Especially looking down over the precipitous drop to the heavily fissured glacier below – frosted in ash and grime from the recent eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, as well as the usual melange of ash, algae and dust.
The 15 km walk continues to the neighboring Morsárdalur which is now ice free.
And winds on until the marker which is there to help us find our location.
It has lots of interesting cultural markings on it to help me place myself in the landscape. However, the landscape itself made better sense to me.