THE MOST DYNAMIC DESTINATION IN THE WORLD
Katla Geopark is Iceland's first geopark and it opens up a natural wonderland to the visitor. A top priority of the park is to protect the natural environment, promote local sustainable development, introduce local culture and place a strong emphasis on nature tourism. But what is a Geopark?
UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. Their bottom-up approach of combining conservation with sustainable development while involving local communities is becoming increasingly popular. At present, there are 140 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 38 countries. A webpage of each UNESCO Global Geopark is available, with detailed information on each site.
UNESCO’s work with geoparks began in 2001. In 2004, 17 European and 8 Chinese geoparks came together at UNESCO headquarters in Paris to form the Global Geoparks Network (GGN) where national geological heritage initiatives contribute to and benefit from their membership of a global network of exchange and cooperation.
On 17 November 2015, the 195 Member States of UNESCO ratified the creation of a new label, the UNESCO Global Geoparks, during the 38th General Conference of the Organisation. This expresses governmental recognition of the importance of managing outstanding geological sites and landscapes in a holistic manner.
The Organization supports Member States’ efforts to establish UNESCO Global Geoparks all around the world, in close collaboration with the Global Geoparks Network.
Katla UNESCO Global Geopark got its name from one of its most known volcanoes, Katla, which lies under the glacier Mýrdalsjökull. The geopark is 9542 km2 or around 9,3 % of the total area of Iceland with a population around 3000.
Katla Geopark is in every sense the land of ice and fire, with towering glaciers and active volcanoes. These forces have been shaping the land for thousands of years and the nearest examples of that are the powerful eruptions in Eyjafjallajökull 2010 and Grímsvötn 2011. But there are also more amazing landscapes in the area - mountains, lakes, black sandy beaches, green pastures and meadows, powerful glacial rivers, beautiful waterfalls and vast lava fields.
These versatile landscapes makes various activities and adventures possible in the area, for example ice climbing and glacier walking, hiking, caving, horse-riding, sight seeing, angling, Jeep safaris and golf. Then there is also possibilities to enjoy the areas local culture by visiting its interesting museums and exhibitions and then relax in one of the areas swimming pools after a busy day.
Katla Geopark is accessible all year round, and each season has its own magical charm in this spectacular natural paradise.