Svinafellsjokull Glacier
Svinafellsjokull Glacier
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Duration: 2-3 hours
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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles134 reviews
Excellent
103
Very good
27
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3
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Tissa.travels
Rotterdam, The Netherlands2,265 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2019
While most people directly go to Skaftafell National Park, this glacier is not to be missed. You can get very close to the steep glacier, and touch the huge ice cubes on the edge of the glacial lagoon. Absolutely stunning, and there is hardly anyone around.
Written April 20, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Califdan69
Palo Alto, CA999 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2015 • Couples
GETTING THERE

The Svinafell Glacier (Svinafellsjokull) in Iceland sits along the southern edge of Skaftafell Nataionall Park. This Glacier is one tongue of the massive Vatnajökull glacier which makes up a large portion of the National Park. If you only have a short period of time or are not an avid hiker, this is a good stop on your tour. If you’re on RT-1 (Golden Circle), heading East (from Reykjavik) the turn off onto a dirt road is 138 km NE of VIK (800 m past the junction of RT-998) or if you’re coming the other way it will be on your right, 17.4 km from Hof. There is a wide spot in the road (just east of a bridge over a river) with a parking area on the north side of RT-1. This is where you turn Northeast onto a dirt road. This well maintained dirt road leads you 2.6 km (6 min) to the parking lot right at the foot of the Svinafell glacier.

SEEING IT

You can see the glacier right from the parking lot, but if you’re able you should take a walk up the trail to the left. This trail is on land and goes up along the hillside beside the glacier along a well used pathway. If it’s been raining it can be a bit slippery so a little caution is wise. The trail near the parking lot is pretty much level and easy. From this section you can see the foot of the glacier where it melts into a glacial lagoon. Here you’ll see the foot (face) of the glacier as well as icebergs floating in the lagoon. In addition to the traditional blue-ice one sees in many glaciers, this one also has what I call “zebra ice”. This is where the ice has alternating layers of blue ice and dark brown or black ice caused by volcanic pumice and ash. As chunks break off the glacier to become icebergs they usually float at angles different than they had while in the glacier. This causes the stripes to go in all sorts of different directions.

As you continue on the trail, it climbs a bit but is generally not too difficult. About a quarter to half mile in there are some rocks you need to ascend. Again, we’re only talking 5 or 10 ft “climbs” with plenty of foot holds. I’m 67 years old and a bit overweight and carrying 25 pounds of camera gear and I was able to “walk” up these areas without using my hands. Look around and choose the route you want to take. Most people who can walk OK can manage these little sections.

As you go farther and farther these little scrambles over rock ledges become more difficult to negotiate. So when you get to one that seems too much for you, that’s a good place to stop, make some photographs and then turn around and return to your vehicle. We spent about an hour (including photographic stops) here and walked up over 3 or 4 of these ledges before turning around – more because we needed to be back to the bus at a certain time than reaching our limit.

PHOTOGRAPHING IT

As in most cases how you photograph in nature depends on the light and that, in turn depends on the time of day as well as the weather. It was pretty cloudy when we were there so the blue ice was not as impressive to photograph as it would have been on a sunny day. However, in post processing you can bring most of that blue back. A tripod, while useful is not a necessity here.

Unless you have interesting cloud formations try to keep the sky mostly or completely out of the shot. As you are above the glacier on this trail this is quite easy to do. There are several types of shots you can take of the glacier and lagoon One is of floating icebergs. Try to find individual bergs which have an interesting shape or that zebra striping. Zoom in to fill the frame with a single iceberg in order to show it’s details. If there are good reflections of the icebergs or clouds in the water try to incorporate those reflections in the shot – otherwise the water in the lagoon is not interesting (just brown water). Most of the bergs are bus size and you’re not all that far from them, so on a typical APS-C DSLR camera (e.g. a Canon Rebel or Nikon D5xxx series) with a 60 to 100 mm lens will work well

A second type of shot is one that shows a larger portion of the lagoon with several bergs. Don’t try to get the entire lagoon in one shot as each berg will be too small. Rather try to find interesting groupings of bergs, Three in a shot works well. For this 40 to 60 mm on an APS-C should give good results and you can include the shore on the far side of the lagoon to add a bit of color (green) to the shot.

The third kind of shot is the top surface of the glacier itself. This is a jumble of ice with dirt streaks going every which way. These shots are better further up the trail. Depending on where you shoot from anything from a moderate wide angle (28mm) up to a short telephoto (100mm) could work. With longer lenses it will compress the scene so the distance between ice clumps will look smaller.

Then the 4th type of shot you should try for is a more overview of the scene. This would include the glacier and perhaps part of the lagoon along with the sides of the canyon it’s flowing down.

If you found this information useful in your decision making process, you gleaned information you may not have otherwise discovered, or you just enjoyed reading it and appreciate the time I put into writing it, please give me a "helpful" vote. You’re welcome to contact me through the “Ask Caifdan69 about .........” button at the bottom of this review
Written November 5, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

SwedeinUSA
Cary, NC106 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2017
Our family took a walk with a tour company on the glacier. This involves a harness, an icepick, helmet, cramp on shoes, a 5 min bus ride to the glacier, a guide etc.

For the cost (around $100/ person) it wasn't worth it. You walk around on the ice near the edge of the glacier. The thing is that you can see all of this by taking your own car and walk near the edge of the glacier.
Written July 29, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

IrishLad2016
Springfield, MA31 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2017 • Family
We did not have enough time in our schedule to do glacier hike in The nearby national park. This was a great consolation prize. Very short walk from car park. You can work your way around the corner and over some rock formations you will find some great hidden views all the way up the mountain exposing the entire glacier. Breathtaking and almost looks fake. Be careful on the rocks and only go as far as you are comfortable. Was very pleased that we made this stop. Maybe spent less than half hour total but really enjoyed and have some great photos.
Written August 27, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mark M
Kirkland, WA937 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2018 • Couples
This was one of the highlights on our trip around the ring road and exceeded our expectations. We drove back from Jökulsárlón an extra 1.5 hr round-trip to take pictures we liked it that much (camera needed to dry out from rain). Of course we returned for our Northern Lights trip. The parking lot is a down a couple kilometer bumpy dirt road right of the ring road. After a short 5 to 10 minute hike from the parking you get above the lagoon with great views of the glacier terminus and crevasse less than 1,000 feet (300 meters) away. You can likely see the glacier fairly well unless its foggy. The best time to photograph the glacier is in the afternoon or evening, since the glacier is west facing. The glacier’s color also changes with season and lighting. In the spring (March) we noticed it was bluer than in the summer (July).
Written February 27, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

victoriaxyz
Zurich, Switzerland602 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2017 • Family
Don't forget to turn off the ring road and drive 10-15 min on a non paved road (no problem even for Mobile home) to get to this glacier. There is a small parking and a short walkway to get to the bottom of the glacier. Nice pic opportunity and not crowded.
Written September 8, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

The Wandering Reviewer
Melbourne, Australia9,806 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2016 • Business
If you're travelling along Highway No. 1 you can visit this place easilly. There is good parking and you can allow no more than an hour here before you feel like it's all done.
The walking is easy if you are wearing good solid shoes. It can be slippery. Add this onto the Glacial Lagoon trip nearby
Written January 9, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Michelle2320
Maitland, Australia228 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2016 • Family
This is a great opportunity to get quite close to a glacier without needing to do a glacier walk. The glacier is striped with clean and ash ice from previous volcanic activity and ends in a glacier lake . The dirt and gravel trail leads from the car park for a few hundred metres along the left side slope to allow photographing from various places. This trail is easy to walk but can be quite narrow and has no barriers so be careful and wear appropriate footwear. The sign and memorial plaque to 2 lost German hikers at the beginning of the trail is testament to how rugged and deeply crevassed the glaciers can be and provides a suitably solemn warning . Definitely worth the stop on your round island trip.
Written July 30, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ronald L
Hong Kong, China33 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020 • Friends
The 2km road that leads to the glacier from highway 1 is quite bumpy. We did it on a small 2WD hatchback very slowly (~20km/h) in winter.
Written February 18, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

NSinz
Berlin, Germany131 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2018 • Family
The Glacier is beautiful. With time on hand you can really trek longer to view the glacier nearer. Definitely a must must see when in Iceland. There is a parking lot right at the diversion which you take off the main road. The approach gravel road is definitely not the best for a non 4x4 car. We had a i20. But as we didn't have much time in hand we went ahead. If you drive very very slowly & carefully avoiding major pits then you can drive right to the parking stop near the glacier even with a non 4*4 car. There were other cars too driving on, but if you have time in hand then avoid it. Why take chance for nothing?
Written August 2, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Svinafellsjokull Glacier - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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