Skaftafell National Park

Skaftafell National Park is a national park, situated between Kirkjubæjarklaustur, typically referred to as Klaustur, and Höfn in the south of Iceland. On 7 June 2008, it became a part of the larger Vatnajökull National Park. It was founded on September 15, 1967, and enlarged twice afterwards. Today, the park measures about 4807 km2 (2884 mi²), making it Iceland's second largest national park. It is home to the valley Morsárdalur, the mountain Kristínartindar, and the glacier Skaftafellsjökull (a spur of the Vatnajökull ice cap).

The landscape is very similar to some of the Alps, but it has been formed in thousands of years by different influences of fire (volcanic eruptions of Öræfajökull), water (the glaciers Skeiðarájökull and Skaftafellsjökull), and the rivers Skeiðará, Morsá und Skaftafellsá. Volcanic eruptions under the ice cap can give rise to jökulhlaups (glacial floods) which swell the Skeiðará river massively. The sandy wasteland between the glacier and the sea caused by jökulhlaups is called the Sandur. The last jökulhlaup occurred in 1996.

Skaftafell is renowned in Iceland for its agreeable climate and the sunny days in summer, uncommon in the south of Iceland. There is a natural birch wood, Bæjarstaðarskógur, as well as many species of birds and arctic foxes.

The waterfall Svartifoss (Black Fall) flows over a step of about 12 metres. Its name comes from the black basalt columns behind it.

In the Middle Ages there were some large farms in this area, but they were abandoned after two volcanic eruptions and the ensuing glacier runs. The two surviving farms now mostly make a living from tourism. The park has also an information centre and a campground. There are many hiking trails crossing the area.

Information based on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skaftafell_National_Park