Skaftafell Glacier Hike Review

skaftafell glacier hike review

This post is also available in: Español

In early September we traveled to Iceland to tour its glaciers and volcanoes and tell you all about it first hand. One of our best experiences was on the Skaftafell glacier that belongs to Vatnajokull. So today we come to tell you about our Skaftafell glacier hike review, how we lived it and our recommendations.

Which trekking in Skaftafell we chose and why

Iceland received us with 9 ºC and rain. However, the day we decided to do the trekking in Skaftafell the sun came out, so it was the perfect day to walk on the ice.

First of all, we decided which hike to do, because you have two options available, and if you didn’t know here we explain the difference between the 3 and 5 hours trekking in Skaftafell. To make the right choice, we chose to talk to our supplier.

Since he knows us, he did not hesitate to recommend us the 5-hour Skaftafell glacier hike. According to what he told us, the short version (the 3-hour Skaftafell trek) is great. However, being mountain lovers our best option was the complete one. So we did it.

Meeting point and equipment

At 10 am we were already at the meeting point at the Skaftafell terminal. We simply put it on Google maps and with the car we rented in Iceland, we arrived in half an hour since we had slept nearby that night.

Upon arrival we found a parking lot with many cars, excited people and guides and coordinators very pros.

The whole group lined up and we were given helmets and ice axes. Then a very kind guide asked us to sit down to give us crampons in our size and make sure we had put on the harness properly.

wearing crampons to ice climbing

To the second parking lot

In 15 minutes we were on our way to the glacier, each in our car with the material in the trunk towards a second parking lot closer to the glacier.

In this second parking we left the car. Seeing the ice, we thought we would be cold and yet, we were advised to leave some clothes in the car. The sun, its reflection on the ice, and our movement, would make us warm up quickly, and they were not wrong.

We also took a backpack with something to eat, water, camera and a polar fleece, because we are not very good at being cold… We crossed a couple of bridges and reached the edge of the glacier.

starting ice hiking with howlanders

Beginning of the skaftafell tour

They divided us into two groups: on one side those who spoke English very well and on the other, those who did not speak English so well.

We immediately connected with our guide Marcelo, a crack in this glacier stuff trained in Patagonia. We sat on the edge of the glacier and he explained how to put on our crampons. After checking them, he gave us the OK and we started walking.

As soon as we climbed about 50 meters in an icy area, we made the second stop: masterclass for walking on ice. All safe and with clear technique we started walking. We followed in their footsteps, meandering and little by little we moved away from the groups that had opted for the 3-hour tour to get closer to the upper part of the glacier. The sun was with us, the sky was clear, there were streams of water, crevasses and a movie-like landscape.

ice walls of skaftafell glacier

Arrival at the top of the glacier

Our guide checked that we were motivated, so he decided to get to the top of the glacier to make a stop and have lunch all together with those immense views. The seracs were up there (giant blocks of ice) so we kept a minimum distance for safety but they were still impressive.

top of the glacier in iceland

Descent of the trekking in Skaftafell

We started descending and kept making stops to see the different formations of the glacier until our guide Marcelo gave us the best gift of the tour.

He asked us to find an area of the glacier that we liked, nail the crampons well and enjoy a minute with our eyes closed of everything around us. The breeze, the light, the temperature… in short, the sensations that you can only experience there.

Just as the 60 seconds were about to expire, his walkie rang. It was the coordinator to make sure that everything was going well, and they took safety very seriously.

After this moment, we continued our descent, reached the base and took off our crampons. We crossed those bridges again and said goodbye to the glacier. Then we returned the material and from that same parking we continued our route through Iceland. The next day we were waiting for a kayak on the glacier lagoon of Jokulsarlon.

hike skaftafell

This is our Skaftafell Glacier hike review. If you had any doubts about the experience, we hope we have solved them and that you are encouraged to enjoy it because it is really worth it. Do you feel like walking on the largest glacier in Iceland?


Javi, along with Daniel, was the one who gave life to Howlanders and formed this team. Each of his trips and the experiences he accumulated in his backpack, gave him the idea of helping other travelers to live them too.

At Howlanders, he is one of the people in charge of deciding which tours we offer. While in this blog he gives us his travel diaries.

He has traveled Torres del Paine for all its circuits and knows it to perfection, so he gives us all the recommendations and tips that can't be found elsewhere.

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