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.
Iceland is famous for its volcanoes, geothermal activity and glaciers, of course.
Unsurprisingly, Iceland also has its fair share of waterfalls, large and small.
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 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.
Barnafoss means Children’s Waterfall. Legend says it’s named after a pair of boys who drowned in its waters!
Immediately downstream of Barnafoss is Hraunfossar.
Hraunfossar, which roughly translates as Lava Waterfalls, is actually a collection of small cascades emerging from the Hallmundarhraun lava field.
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.
Gullfoss, 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.
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.
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.
Thankfully, common sense eventually won out, and today the 105-foot-tall waterfall remains a natural wonder enjoyed my Icelanders and visors, alike.
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.
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