Icelandic Waterfalls

I have to admit, the three days we spent in Iceland in 2011 were pretty wet and cold. But that didn’t prevent us having a marvellous time in this northern wilderness.

Rich looking cold, soggy, but happy in Iceland

Rich looking cold, soggy, but happy in Iceland

Iceland is famous for its volcanoes, geothermal activity and glaciers, of course.

The icecap of central Iceland

The icecap of central Iceland

Unsurprisingly, Iceland also has its fair share of waterfalls, large and small.

A tiny waterfall on the hills outside Reykjavik, Iceland's capital

A tiny waterfall on the hills outside Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital

Three of the country’s most impressive waterfalls are on the Hvítá River (White River), which flows out of Langjökull (Long Glacier), Iceland’s second largest glacier:

Barnafoss

Barnafoss

Barnafoss is just east of the village of Reykholt. A steep, narrow gorge has formed where the Hvítá has been forced to flow around the edge of the Hallmundarhraun lava flow.

The Barnafoss chasm

The Barnafoss chasm

Barnafoss means Children’s Waterfall. Legend says it’s named after a pair of boys who drowned in its waters!

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Looking down from the bridge

Looking down from the bridge

Immediately downstream of Barnafoss is Hraunfossar.

Hraunfossar from Barnafoss

Hraunfossar from Barnafoss

Hraunfossar, which roughly translates as Lava Waterfalls, is actually a collection of small cascades emerging from the Hallmundarhraun lava field.

With some friends at Hraunfossar

With some friends at Hraunfossar

The lower layers of the Hallmundarhraun lava are less porous than those above. When water seeping into the lava reaches this boundary it begins to flow horizontally, emerging at along a half mile stretch of the Hvítá River’s northern bank.

The Hraunfossar cascades: you can clearly see the lower layer of less permeable lava

The Hraunfossar cascades: you can clearly see the lower layer of less permeable lava

IMG_3933IMG_3936Gullfoss, the Golden Waterfall, is high on the must-see list of most visitors to Iceland. The double-step giant really takes the breath away… especially if you wander into the spray zone on a cold day, take it from me.

The magnificent Gullfoss appears to disappear into the Earth

The magnificent Gullfoss appears to disappear into the Earth

Unbelievably, the natural beauty of Gullfoss was nearly lost in the early 20th Century, when foreign investors planned to harness the power of the falls to produce hydroelectricity.

The Hvítá River actually turns left in the gorge at the base of the falls

The Hvítá River actually turns left in the gorge at the base of the falls

Legend states that Gullfoss was eventually saved thanks largely to Sigriður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of the landowner at the time. Sigriður is not only said to have walked to Reykjavik, roughly 70 miles distant, several times to consult a lawyer who she hired with her own savings, but also to have threatened at one point to throw herself into the falls.

You can get a good spraying of cold water standing on that viewpoint to the left of the falls

You can get a good spraying of cold water standing on that viewpoint to the left of the falls

Thankfully, common sense eventually won out, and today the 105-foot-tall waterfall remains a natural wonder enjoyed my Icelanders and visors, alike.

Breathtaking!

Breathtaking!

This post was inspired by Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, which this week is Things That Are Cold and Jennifer’s One Word Photo Challenge, which is Barn (I twisted this a bit, using the Icelandic meaning of the word).

For more images of our adventures in Iceland, visit Rich and Sue’s Flickr Album 2011: Iceland.

If you’re the sort of person that loves experiencing the wonders of the nature on your travels, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

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About Jaspa

Star of my own award-winning adventure novels, Jaspa's Journey. Geocaching addict & F1 fan. Adventure Journeyer & blogger extraordinaire. Check out my website: www.jaspasjourney.com And don’t forget to download the books and see what the buzz is all about!
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10 Responses to Icelandic Waterfalls

  1. Great pics, Rich. You’ve whetted my appetite to return to Iceland and this time stay a few days. This may be fanciful, but the music of Sigur Ros seems to ‘fit’ these landscapes perfectly.

  2. Cee Neuner says:

    I bet the water in July and August remain pretty cold. Gorgeous photography. 😀

  3. Pingback: One Word Photo Challenge: Basement | Jennifer Nichole Wells

  4. Such an interesting translation. I love how you’ve interpreted this challenge. And these photos are lovely.

  5. Pingback: Climbing Jamaican Waterfalls | Jaspa's Journal

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