Vatnajökull National Park
Vatnajökull National Park, established in 2008, encompasses not only all of Vatnajökull glacier but also extensive surrounding areas. These include the national parks previously existing at Skaftafell in the southwest and Jökulsárgljúfur in the north, so that today's national park covers 13% of Iceland and ranks as Europe's largest.
In general, national parks are protected areas which are considered unique because of their nature or cultural heritage. The unique qualities of Vatnajökull National Park are primarily its great variety of landscape features, created by the combined forces of rivers, glacial ice, and volcanic and geothermal activity.
Protection and management
The objective of the Vatnajökull National Park's establishment is to conserve the area's landscape, biology, geological formations and cultural heritage and enable the public to experience and enoy its nature and history.
To reach these objectives Vatnajökull National Park is divided into four areas. Each area has a park manager whose role is to ensure that operations within the park are in accordance with the park's rules and regulations.
Practical information for park visitors
Vatnajökull National Park offers a unique opportunity to experience the interplay between the forces of glaciers and volcanic activities.The National Park stretches around the Vatnajökull ice cap, with visitor centres in South-East Iceland (Skaftafell), East Iceland (Skriðuklaustur) and North-East Iceland (Jökulsárgljúfur).
Vatnajökull National Park operates campsites in Skaftafell and Jökulsárgljúfur.
For the most part, the park lies in highland areas. If you are heading into the Icelandic highlands, you must be properly prepared, as the weather, river flow and driving or walking conditions may change very suddenly. Important safety equipment, such as communication and navigation devices, is essential in places with little traffic. If help is needed, phone Iceland's emergency number, 112, where your message will be passed on to suitable parties.
The Icelandic Associaton for Search and Rescue provides neccesary and important information for travelling in Iceland. Check their website at safetravel.is
It must also be emphasized that off-road driving is prohibited in Iceland. What may seem like an innocent de-tour can leave a lasting scar in the landscape, something that Icelanders have learned the hard way through their own actions. The National Park authorities strongly recommend that visitors seek further information about driving in the park prior to their visit.