New path at Sólheimajökull glacier inaugurated by the minister of innovation and industries
Ms. Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir, minister of industries and innovation, (and tourism) came to Katla Geopark today to inaugurate a new path leading towards Sólheimajökull. The path is a little less then 1 km long and leads to a viewpoint with views over the glacier, glacier valley, glacier lagoon and much more! This improved infrastructure now offers a safer experience for visitors of Katla Geopark wanting to walk towards the glacier, as the path has been improved with respect to rockfall in the surrounding area. The viewpoint offers visitors an unforgettable view without having to walk too close to the glacier which can be life threatening without proper equipment and guidance.
These improvements were funded largely by the ministry (70%) along with the landowners (30%) or in respect to the ratio of land ownership which is largely governmental. The ministry oversaw and directed the development but both consultation and collaboration was done with many stakeholders of the Geopark, including the Geopark itself. Engineering company Efla designed the path and the Geopark designed new signage.
Sólheimajökull geosite is one of Katla Geopark´s most visited geosites. Between 500-1500 visitors are there daily according to data from 2018 (Mælaborð ferðaþjónustunnar, 2018). There have however barely been any visitors these recent weeks and months, but a family of tourists were enjoying the good weather and good views there today, as well as some glacier enthusiasts who were hiking on the glacier barely noticeable.
Sólheimajökull has been receding a lot in recent years, especially since around 1995. The earliest known measurements are from 1930 and they indicate that the tongue of the glacier has receded by almost 2,0 km ! In 2008 a glacier lagoon started forming due to warming of the climate and now the glacier is melting even faster as the tip of the glacier tongue is calving into the lagoon.
Its very popular to spend a day or two enjoying Sólheimajökull. Many companies offer different types of activies such as ice-climbing, glacier hiking and even kayaking on the lagoon. But its also easy for one to simply enjoy an hour or two leisurely walking and enjoying the view.