Europe, Photography, Travel

We Went Chasing Waterfalls in Iceland

Yes, Shaun wears shorts in the freezing cold.

The land of fire and ice is known for its magnificent natural beauty and there are no shortages of waterfalls in Iceland. We even had a running joke that all waterfalls coming out the sides of mountains close the the highway have amazing little colorful houses near them.

During our awesome Iceland Ring Road roadtrip we made sure to stop along the greats. Presenting: The Waterfall List of AWESOMENESS!

Svartifoss

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Located in the Skaftafell National Park in the south, this is a quick 2km jaunt up an easy to hike hill/small mountain. Just pull up to the parking lot and there are quite a few signs around to ensure you go the right way.

This waterfall is made from dark basalt lava columns that create this really rad hexagonal shape. Needless to say we were impressed. Nature surprises me every day.

I think this is when we started our celebratory beer at the top of all of our waterfall goals. It definitely gives you a goal to work toward (that is more tangible than looking at a waterfall). Believe me, I needed it at one point when we were moving on to our next waterfall-

Hengifoss

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This one is a bit off the Ring Road a bit in the East but completely worth it if you’re down to hike for a few hours. While this one can be easily seen from the road, you can’t grasp the enormity of one of the tallest falls (118m) until you make your way to the top.

This is not a hard hike but definitely not easy. You do get quite close to a chasm that will send you to your death and you do have to do some river crossings, rock hopping, and basic climbing.

When you finally scramble over everything you are greeted by lots of mist and the ability to check out the cave area behind the waterfall. Expect to come out soaking wet (as our awesome travel mate did) but he was stoked when he came clambering down to lazier people land. Looking up you can see layers of red clay that were made up of dying plants of the past in between the layers of volcanic activity (geology geek). I was so fascinated by Iceland since it is still relatively new land and we are watching it form over time.
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Dettifoss

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For you awesome nerdy people who visit here, this waterfall was known for the opening scene in Prometheus. No, I didn’t visit for this reason but it is still super cool to see it in action. This is Europe’s most powerful waterfall spewing out an impressive 193 m3/s of water in the Northern part of Iceland.

Getting there is an interesting adventure all on its own. While walking to the waterfall is easy enough, you have a choice of two different roads from Ring Road. If you are going counterclockwise, we took the first road. It is ENTIRELY gravel and dirt. It took us close to an hour to make the 28km trek to the waterfall. The rumor is that the other side is paved. Sure, you can take the easy way out but if you are looking for the best view (and to stand where giant alien man stood), take the more difficult road.
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****You can see people in both pictures for size comparison. Look REALLY hard.****

Godafoss

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The waterfall of the Gods may be the easiest one to get to. Not only do you see it directly off of Ring Road in the North, but there are a million cars parked in this area to get a glimpse.

In the year 1000 the official lawmaker Thorgeir of Iceland had to choose the official religion in the Parlimentary Plains (Thingvellir). A bit pressured, and not to mention the many bloody wars going on, he chose Christianity and threw all the statues of Norse Gods into the waterfall – thus the name. This waterfall is a special part of Icelandic history!

We did see quite a few waterfalls in and around Iceland while making our way through the country but everything paled in comparison to the grandeur of the waterfalls mentioned above.

Make sure to visit some of these if you’re planning on doing Ring Road. You won’t regret it.

What waterfalls have been your favorite?

30 thoughts on “We Went Chasing Waterfalls in Iceland”

  1. Oooo, I LOVE that last one! Such a cool story to go along with it, too.

    Since I didn’t do the Ring Road in Iceland, I sadly didn’t get to see any of these. Next time, next time…

    Did you guys see any of the waterfalls along the south shore? I quite liked the “chest of treasure” legend that goes along with Skogafoss.

    1. Shaun was super excited about the lore involved with Iceland. We drove by a few waterfalls on the southshore but had our list already made up for the little time we had. I’m sure it would take a long time to see everything!

  2. Wow, fantastic photos! That black basalt is incredible. No matter how impressive stuff made by humans can get, it always pales when compared to the spectacle of nature. Iceland, eh? All I know of the place is the crazy amount of drinking that goes on during the dark season… which I guess is another reason to visit? But man, it does look cold! Even in the pictures, I can see the temperature of that water! Not a good spot for swimming… :0)
    Tony

    1. I can imagine that the drinking does get a bit crazy. Even after talking to some of the guys in Alaska, they do it to save their sanity with only a few hours of light a day. I would go NUTS.

      The water was cold and most of this water is runoff from glaciers. BRR!

  3. OHMYGOD these look AMAZING! I think Svartifoss and Dettifoss are my favourites here. I’m not so big on the nature, but I just adore waterfalls (just don’t make me go down one) as they’re so pretty!

  4. We just took our first trip to Iceland this past July. Your pictures are making me want to return soon.

    1. Waterfalls are AH-MAZING. Seriously though – I’ve never seen such amazing nature in my life before this. My bar is set too high now!

  5. Awesome post. The waterfalls there were amazing; though I think I may have enjoyed them a little more than my wife. On one particular day when we had been driving a good bit, heading to the south east and I had been stopping every half mile or so to take pictures(okay let’s be honest, it was like every hundred yards or so… the light was awesome!)… I got “the look”, you know the one… followed by “are you seriously going to keep stopping like this?”. LOL

    Good times! 🙂

    Dan

  6. Fantastic pictures! I love that second shot of Svartifoss. I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather though. I don’t know how you pulled that one off Shaun.

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