Iceland, Day 4: Kristinartindar Peak and Skaftafell

We arrived in Skaftafell the evening before our planned hike. The weather was still sunny, but the clouds started to gather around the Kristinartindar peak, which was supposed to be our destination for the next day:

We stayed in small hotel consisting of several one and two-story buildings. Our room was in a one-story barrack-looking structure made of metal sheets. The rooms ended up being very clean, warm, of decent size and with all necessary amenities in working order.

In the meantime, the clouds kept gathering over the mountains, and it seemed that our hike could end up being rained out. Only the sheep kept grazing, caring nothing about the weather.

The next morning, however, was sunny and clear with just a few clouds, so we took off for for our planned hike. The Kristinartindar mountain was just ahead of us:

After a series of switchbacks we gained about 300 m (1000 ft) of altitude and ended up on a gentler slope, almost a plateau, covered with alpine meadows.

A glance back gave us a panorama of the lower part of one of the tongues of Vatnajökull Glacier and the lake formed by its melting ice, with a few narrow outlets making their way towards the sea:

In a few minutes, a view of Vatnajökull appeared on the right. The sky was becoming more and more cloudy.

Half an hour later we made a stop to enjoy the views and get some snacks and water, while admiring the views of Vatnajökull icefield.

Our destination, Kristinartindar peak, looked imposing and hard to reach.

But in fact we were more than halfway there, so we hit the final stretch of our trail.

The last stretch of the hike started with a fairly gentle slope:

But it got steeper and steeper pretty soon, and it got quite windy too, with the first drops of the rain landing on us.

After about 30 minutes of what I would call climbing, rather than hiking, since we had to use our hands (although no gear was necessary), we reached the top ridge of Kristinartindar mountain and then its summit. Our efforts were rewarded by 360 degree views of icefields, glacial rivers, rocky ranges and alpine meadows.

Looking South-East from Kristinartindar Peak
Looking North-West from Kristinartindar Peak
Looking West from Kristinartindar Peak
Looking South-West from Kristinartindar Peak
Kristinartindar Peak – a view towards the sea

On the way back we took a different route and headed south-west from the summit, where after an initial steep descent the trail reached the grassy meadows.

The views around us remained stunning all the way:

In an hour or two we reached a plateau with a view of Vatnajökull’s delta:

A short descent, and came to the end of our hike, making a ~20km / 12.5 mile loop:

The Kristinartindar loop. Click on image above for the interactive map and GPX track.

The next morning we took the final look at Kristinartindar and Vatnajökull, and headed further West down the southern coast of Iceland.

Kristinartindar and Vatnajökull – a view from Route 1

Related galleries: Iceland, Vatnajökull and Skaftafell

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