Öræfajökull and Hvannadalshnjúkur
Öræfajökull is the southernmost part of the biggest glacier in Europe the glacier Vatnajökull that covers up around 8000 square kilometres or around 8% of Iceland total area. The Vatnajökull glacier has many volcanoes underneath the ice cap, like: Bárðarbunga, Grímsvötn, Gjálp and Kverkfjöll.
Öræfajökull is a stratovolcano and it has erupted regularly since settlement. At least two eruption have been documented since that time. The last volcanic eruption was during the years 1727 to 1728 that was a small eruption but the melting of the ice did cost some floods (jökulhlaup) down to the lowlands.
Right after the settlement time of Iceland there was a great volcanic eruption in Öræfajökull, it happened in the year 1362 it had some devastating consequences and it ruined most of the surrounding district. Before the area was called the smallest shire but after the eruption it got the name Öræfi, that means wasteland.
It is impossible to tell when to expect the next eruption in Öræfajökull but there has been a lot of volcanic activity in the surrounding volcanoes Grímsvötn, Bárðarbunga and Gjálp for the last decades, so who knows what will happen there in the future.
Hvannadalshnjúkur is the name of the highest peak of Öræfajökull and it is the highest mountain of Iceland, about 2109 metres or 6921 feet high
Öræfajökull glacier is also a part of the Vatnajökull National Park. If there is a good visibility it is easy to see Öræfajökull on the way from Kirkjubæjarklaustur. There are many outlet glaciers flowing down the steep hills of Öræfajökull and below is the black sand area Skeiðarársandur with many glacier rivers as well as Skaftafell with many interesting places like Svartifoss waterfall and many others. The surrounding there is quite amazing on a beautiful day.
Hiking tours to Hvannadalshnjúkur
It is possible to join some hiking tours to the Öræfajökull glacier in the spring time but it's only possible with experience guide, the hike takes around 12 to 15 hours. The landscape in the area is amazing with black sands, steep mountains, outlet glaciers, glacier rivers and glacier lagoons.