Wikimedia. Creative Commons. Credit: Praveen Kumar Bodigutla
Skaftafellsjökull is a glacier tongue spurting off from Iceland's largest ice cap, Vatnajökull.
The glacier tongue of Skaftafellsjökull sits in Skaftafell, a nature reserve in Öræfi, Vatnajökull National Park. It is one of many tongues stretching from the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull itself. This ice cap covered eleven percent of the surface area of Iceland.
This reserve was once a national park in its own right, before it was enveloped into a new, much greater one. The Vatnajökull National Park was created to incorporate many other protected areas, including the Jökulsárlon glacier lagoon in the south and the Jökulsárgjlúfur canyon in the north.
It is now the largest national park in Iceland.
Skaftafellsjökull is an excellent but concerning example of how climate change is steadily affecting the glaciers in Iceland.
Over the last decade, Skaftafellsjökull has been receding dramatically, only strengthening the argument that environmental policies must look to preserve Iceland's unique, important and beautiful natural features.
Many trees have been planted in the area to help absorb carbon dioxide around the glaciers, but tragically, many scientists believe that this is too little, too late.
It is possible to hike Skaftafellsjökull's surrounding area in order to secure a fantastic perspective of this glacier tongue. After checking in with the Skaftafell Visitors Centre as to the best hiking trails and conditions, guests will follow an eight kilometre (five miles) trail (there and back), up 390 metres (1,280 feet) to the waterfall, Svartifoss.
From here, you will be able to look out on the glacier and its adjacent lagoon.
Skaftafellsjökull and Svínafellsjökull are both glacier tongues of Vatnajökull within Skaftafell, and are often mistake for each other. For ease, the latter is often referred to as the former, though both are distinct features.
The majority of glacier hiking tours in this part of the country are in fact done on Svínafellsjökull.