Skaftafell – the biggest tourist attraction on the south coast

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We drive away from the Diamond Beach along the only road in the area – the Ring Road. After a bit of a drive we reach Skaftafell. This area seems to be the most visited place along the long south coast of Iceland.

It is also the only place where they require us to pay a parking fee at a parking lot next to a tourist attraction. I guess charging to go into a tourist attraction is pretty standard all over the world – but this isn’t the case on Iceland. This is the first time we have to pay when we visit a natural tourist attraction anywhere around the island. The parking fee isn’t too excessive so we just pay the money and park the car.

The famous Svatifoss waterfall

If we head down one trail it will take us to the glacier – but we already done that earlier so we don’t feel the need to hike to another glacial edge. Instead there are other options for heading up to a waterfall in the hills called the Svatifoss or black waterfall.

As we move up the trail there is a good view out across the landscape below towards the ocean. The landscape is super flat and black. It is called Sandar and supposedly this area has given its name to all landscapes like this across the world. Sandar is created by huge glacial flood which comes when the volcanoes below the Vatnajökull erupts melting incredible amounts of water which will suddenly flow violently towards the sea taking everything in front of the water. When the water flows out from underneath the glacier the water leave behind a bit of black broken down basalt from former eruptions.

At the end of the trail is a view of the water fall which flows down over some old basalt rock creating a black backdrop to the water. The waterfall isn’t the highest or most powerful waterfall on Iceland but it is a nice setting here. Though I actually think the view of the basalt rock which the special octagonal forms are more interesting so is the view over the black landscape below.

We head away from the waterfall and drive along the sandar landscape. At some spot the black colours of the landscape change dramatically to the traditional purple colours of the Icelandic summer giving a good contrast to the black of the basalt waste.

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