Snæfellsjökull National Park is located at the western end of Snæfellsnes peninsula, making it the most western nature reserve in Europe. The place was declared a national park in 2001 in order to provide access to Icelandic residents and tourists and to protect the unique landscape, flora, fauna and important historical remains in the region. Its relative proximity to Reykjavik, two hours' drive, makes it one of the most visited parks in Iceland. The park boats diverse views, colonies of seabirds among cliffs and sites that relate to Icelandic traditions and world literature. Like the rest of Iceland's national parks, entrance is free. Park rangers, provide information for travelers and take care of the upkeep of the place during the summer months.
This is the most famous volcano in Iceland and is also called "King of the Mountains", it rises to a height of 1446 meters and the summit is covered by Snæfellsjökull glacier, in Icelandic the word jökull means iceberg.
The glacier fills the mouth of the volcano with ice to a depth of 200 meters, with global warming, the ice is shrinking and according to assessment by the year 2050 it will completely disappear. Snæfellsjökull is still considered an active volcano despite that the last eruption was around 200 AD.
The volcano's summit was conquered for the first time in 1754 by two adventurous Icelanders, Eggert Ólafsson and Bjarni Pálsson, who set out to explore the nature of the region and showed their sketches of the volcano to all the residents of Iceland.
Snæfellsjökull won international recognition when the renowned science fiction writer Jules Verne described it in his book "Journey to the Center of the Earth". The book was published in 1864, and Snæfellsjökull is marked as the starting point of the canal that lies inside the Earth and ends at the mouth of Stromboli Volcano in southern Italy. Every summer when there are more than 20 hours of daylight, organized groups meet up to climb the mountain and reach the top in the late hours. On clear days where there is good visibility, you can see Snæfellsjökull from Reykjavik beach located 120 kilometers away.
A picturesque and magnificent beach with pebbles that cover the shore and rocks with strange shapes that jerk out from the sea. Four ellipse weight stones of various sizes can be found on the beach, each with a different weight, testing the strength of sailors. The largest stone weighs 154 kg, followed in descending order of stones 100 kg, 54 kg and 23 kg. Those who did not manage to lift the 54 kg stone were not hired to work on the fishing boats. The ocean's flow in this region is powerful and overwhelming, and the golden sands are scattered with metal parts of a wrecked British fishing boat in 1948 and what was left of it was left stranded on the beach.
Stands at the northern part of the park, a volcano with a crater-shaped that erupted around 1000 BC. The volcano has a parking area at the foot of it and a marked hiking trail to the summit, which boasts excellent views of the entire region.
A pair of massive rock pillars that are also known as the "Twin Towers of Iceland". The pillars are geological formations called "lava corks". One is 61 meters high and the other 75 meters and they rise up above the park's southern coast. The surrounding cliffs are lively breeding colonies of many seabirds during the summer months. According to Icelandic sagas these pillars were actually two trolls who were exposed to sunlight and turned into rocks.
This cave is located in the southern part of the park, the opening is small and hidden so you must pay attention to the marks that show the entrance. The cave is famous for its echo sounds and ancient captions etched on the walls, that include the names of Eggert Ólafsson and Bjarni Pálsson, who were the first successful to conquer Snæfellsjökull summit in 1754.
According to the Icelandic saga, the cave served as a primary residence in the 9th century for settlers who came to Iceland from Norway, who at the time, established farms in the area. The name means "Cave of Songs" and indeed anyone visiting is invited to sing and enjoy the echo that generates from the cave.
A rocky crevasse that reaches all the way to the bottom of the mountain and looks almost unreal, as if taken from a fairy tale. It is located in proximity of Route 574 that surrounds the park and you can climb the crevasse, peek inside, see the rocky gorge and walk on the river pebbles which runs until you reach the waterfall hidden inside.
This lava cave was formed about 8000 years ago and up to the year 2011 was almost hidden from the public eye. The cave is located at the southern end of the park and is only accessible by a paid organized tour; however, there is no need to book tickets in advance. A tour of the cave goes down 35 meters via a staircase built there, where you can see colorful rocks and interesting lava formations. Visitors receive helmets and a head torch and the tour lasts about 45 minutes. It is recommended to bring warm clothing and gloves as temperatures below the surface are always cooler.
For further information - www.vatnshellir.is