Roughly translated to ‘Golden Falls’ Gullfoss is reknown as one of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls. Located on the South west of Iceland, Gullfoss is easily one of the most desired stops on the Golden Circle Route.
Gullfoss is comprised of 2 separate falls that originate from the Langjökull glacier. The first fall is a drop of 11 meters while the second is an impressive drop of 21 meters.
The energy with which it roars down the cliffside is so much so, that you can’t see beyond the mist of water that radiates upwards from the drop.
The sheer enormity and power of Gullfoss is an incredible force of nature, and it will surely leave you feeling minuscule in comparison.
Nestled in the cliff face, Skogafoss is an extraordinary waterfall, located in the south of Iceland.
Due to the constant spray from the fall, a rainbow or two can often be seen through the waterfall on sunny days. Making it a truly enchanting waterfall to visit if you’re lucky enough for the sun to shine, which sadly it never did for us.
Unlike Selandjafoss and Gullfoss, you can walk right up to the bottom of the fall, or as close as you dare without getting completely drenched. (You will definitely need an anorak for this one!)
If you’re feeling energetic you can also take the very long staircase to the top of the hillside, 370 steps in total, although this is up for question and definitely felt more like a 1000! It's a stunning view from the top and the perfect spot to watch the water cascading over the edge, falling 60 meters to the bottom.
Like many locations in Iceland, Skogafoss has a rather special folklore surrounding it, that is still remembered today. According to legend, behind Skogafoss waterfall is a hidden treasure chest filled with riches and jewels. It is said to have been concealed there in secret by one of the very first Viking settlers named Thrasi, in 900AD.
The treasure was said to be lost forever after locals attempted retrieving it. They got so far as to loop the handle of the chest, until one final pull removed the handle, sending the chest plunging into the depths of the fall.
The ring from the chest was later used for the church door at Skogar and is now on display at the the museum in Skógasafn.
Svartifoss - ‘Black Falls’
As well as being my favourite waterfall, Svartifoss was one of our most eventful expeditions.
Downpours of rain had become the norm of our trip and followed us relentlessly wherever we went. But for the first time since we arrived in Iceland, the forecast was looking bright, or as bright as it can in Iceland, so we set off for Svartifoss without a worry on our minds.
Invisible from the road, Svartifoss is located on the south east of Iceland in the Vatnajökull National Park.
A small hike is required to reach Svartifoss, which will take you around 40 minutes, depending on how many times you stop - there are many natural beauties on the way.
Concealed in the hilltop, this breathtaking waterfall is unlike any other. It’s most striking feature is the incredible black basalt columns, which happen to be the inspiration behind it’s name - ‘Black Falls’.
A result of volcanic eruptions, these hexagonal columns are so unique in their formation, It’s almost as if they’ve been purposely carved by hand, into their own beautifully, individual pattern. I find it truly enchanting that something so beautiful can be created through something so destructive as lava.
These incredible formations are truly a natural wonder and have unsurprisingly inspired the work of many artists. One in particular being the architect behind the famous Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavík.
After spending a good time basking in the beauty of Svartifoss, we continued our hike up to see the Svínafellsjökull glacier.
It was a beautiful walk to the top, from where you’re supposed to see an incredible view of glaciers, mountains and even the ocean. We however saw absolutely nothing. The minute we reached the top, the heavens opened into a complete downpour. Certainly making up for it’s absence all morning, I don’t think I’ve ever been so drenched.
After slipping and sliding our way back to the bottom we were met with glorious sunshine and the welcome site of a fish and chip van, which we very happily rewarded ourselves with.
A little tip for anyone planning a visit - the rain is never far away.