Iceland (VIII): Egilsstadir and Hengifoss (Northeast)

Half way through the 12-day trip in Iceland, we had already climbed the Glymur, the once highest waterfall  before another higher fall discovered in highland; visited Goðafoss, the historically important waterfall, and Dettifoss, the largest fall by volume discharge.  In northeast of Iceland we were ready to cross off one more waterfall from the list–the Hengifoss.

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After Dettifoss, we got back to the Ring Road and continued east to Egilsstaðir.  We passed boundless barren land, it was striking! Deep black soil stretched as far as the eye could see, it felt like driving on the Moon!

As we got closer to Egilsstaðir, the land turned interesting again, more waterfalls and green field and hill.

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We stopped by this bridge before entering Egilsstaðir.

Egilsstadir7Egilsstaðir is the largest town in the east Iceland, we found a pretty pond by the roadside for picnic lunch.

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After the break, we headed to Hengifoss, the third tallest waterfall in Iceland, second to Glymur.

Hengifoss is an hour drive to the south of Egilsstaðir.  We caught a glimpse of the waterfall in the distance when approaching from road 931.  However to reach the bottom of the waterfall we got to hike 2.5 km.  It was very pleasant hike, we could glance the top of the Hengifoss from the trail.

The add-on bonus along the trail was this waterfall, Litlanesfoss, at 1 km mark.

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Look at the vertical columns! Formed by rapid cooling of hot running lava hit cold water million years ago.

 

It was supposed to be an easy hike, however it turned into an arduous trek.  Starting at 1.5 km mark, it rained, then it poured!  People were moving in the opposite direction to get off the hike.  We trotted on.

Only eyed to the ground in front of us, we kept moving forward and upward.  By the time we reached the base of the waterfall, my lens was wet and foggy. The landscape got so muddy and slippery, but we were on cloud nine!

We made it! Thank God for water-proof jacket and pants, and hiking sticks! And never gave up too early!

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They say if you don’t like the weather in Iceland, just wait for five minutes.  So true!  The magic happened on our descending, the sky cleared up again.

Another bonus of the hike was the Lagarfljot Lake, we failed to notice it climbing up in the rain.  The long skinny lake shined under the sunlight, like a silk belt.  Legend said a monster lived, still lives, in the lake.  Someone even posted a video on YouTube to prove it.

The sunshine made EVERYTHING looked better. Oh, the joy!

Iceland (VII): Mighty Waterfalls of the North

The must-see waterfalls in the north Iceland are Goðafoss and Dettifoss, part of the Diamond Circle.

There are at least two must-see waterfalls in the north Iceland: Goðafoss and Dettifoss, both waterfalls are part of the Diamond Circle.

Goðafoss is less than an hour east of Akureyri, the largest city in the north Iceland.

We approached the waterfall from the right bank, the foss was a short walk from the parking lot.

Oh, the sounds of the gushing water!! It felt dangerous climbing up the rugged rocks, but the fun did outweigh the fear.

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Walking away from the fall toward the bridge, we got an unobstructed view of the entire waterfall.  Can you see the bridal veil on the right?

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The further away from the waterfall, the more panoramic the view.

We were not done yet, we crossed the bridge to the left bank

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and walked along the left bank to the viewing platform.

Before reaching the platform, we had an opportunity to walk down to see the waterfall down up.

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Goðafoss in Icelandic means “waterfall of gods”, the name was originated from the Icelandic conversion to Christianity in the year 1000.  Idols of Norse gods were thrown into this waterfall after the people accepted the Christian faith.

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What a sweeping sight from the viewing platform!  Here we could not only see the entire waterfall but the upstream river.  See the rocky spot at the right top corner where we stood half hour ago?

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Just as we pulled out the parking lot, the sky opened up to this gorgeous blue.  Too bad no time to go back, we had Myvatn next on our schedule.

The next mighty waterfall in the north is Dettifoss.  We visited Dettifoss the next morning.

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Dettifoss is in Vatnajökull National Park, the largest of the three national parks in Iceland.

The waterfall was viewed from the top.  With the water spray and fog,  I couldn’t tell how deep the canyon was.  An internet search reveals that Dettifoss is 330 feet wide and 144 feet deep!

No wonder this waterfall is regarded as the most powerful waterfall in Europe; and by sheer volume discharge, it is the largest waterfall in Iceland.

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Be careful to protect your camera from the waterfall’s spray! Especially if you stand at the viewing platform at this left bank as we did.

dettifoss9 To truly feel the power and energy of the waterfall, we walked down and got closer to the fall front.  Please stay on the path!

The water was grayish; this river upstream was Vatnajökull glacier.  I had a hard time believe it glacier water–before we met this mighty giant, glacier waterfall in Iceland was clear, pure and drinkable!

A fewer hundred meters away, there is another waterfall, Selfoss.

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The opposite bank offered a better panoramic view of the fall.

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FYI:

There are two roads from the Ring Road lead to Dettifoss: 862 on the west and 864 on the east of the fall.  Dettifoss can be viewed from both banks, however the roads don’t cross.  We chose to take 862 and viewed the waterfall from the west bank because the road was in better condition–862 is a paved road while 864 is a gravel road.

Iceland (I): Hiking the Glymur, the Highest Waterfall in Iceland

We just got back from 12-day trip in Iceland.  What a BEAUTIFUL country! If you love nature and outdoor, and photography, Iceland is for you!  

We just got back from 12-day trip in Iceland.  What a BEAUTIFUL country! If you love nature and outdoor, and photography, Iceland is for you!  For a country only the size of Virginia State, Iceland is packed with stunning beauty! In 12 days we circled the whole country along the 800-mile Ring Road, starting from the capital Reykjavik going clockwise to the west, the north, the east and ending at the popular south.

We hiked the Glymur waterfall (or foss in Icelandic) on the second day, it was a highly anticipated hike! 🙂

There was a description of the hike at the parking lot, and the signs were well posted at each critical turn.

The hike was flat but scenic on the first mile.  It was an easy strolling until we reached an open cave.  Through the cave opening we spotted the Botnsa river, this was the river we would trail along to get to the foss.

The glacier water from the Botnsa river was so clear and refreshing.  We filled up the water bottle, we would need it soon.

IMG_8110Both banks of the Botnsa river lead to the foss, however the right bank offered a better view of the foss.  A rope and a wood log were installed to help the hikers to cross the river.  The water was REALLY COLD!

After the river crossing, the path took a turn to strenuous ascension.  I had to hold on to the rope, it was quite steep.  At some area, we hiked on the narrow dirt path right along the dropping cliff! I don’t know about you, but looking back down to the river we just crossed, the cave openings looked like a pair of eyes, watching us…

Soon we spotted the vapor from the waterfall in the distance. With the waterfall in front of us, we kept going, up and up.

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Occasionally we paused to see how much we had accomplished. Can you spot people crossing the Botnsa river way down there?  The up right corner near the fjord was where we parked our car!

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In the following hour, we hiked and climbed.  Can you see the tiny people on the top of the cliff on the right? We would be in their position, soon!

For most part of hiking, the waterfall was in view except a few zigzag sharp turns we lost track of it. Again ropes were there to assist the hikers, very helpful!  Some no-name waterfalls were spilling here and there.

Almost there!

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And we did it! We conquered the Glymur, the highest foss in Iceland, Hooray!! Look at the people on other side of the falls, we decided to join them.  We found a shallow area and trod across the Botnsa river again, this time at the upstream of the Glymur fall!

Beware plodding across the Botnsa river, the water was not as shallow as some suggested: it came all the way up to Arthur’s knees and to my thighs!

Now take a good look at the waterfall at this side of the bank before descending.  It was all worth it!!

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After another long hour, we finally saw that open cave! So happy to see that pair of watchful eyes again!

IMG_1919 The whole hike from the parking lot back to the parking lot took us 4 hours to complete.  It was four-hour well spent!

A few things about the hike:

(1) I am glad that we took the hike at the beginning of our trip.  We followed Rick Steves’ suggestion, going west first driving clockwise on the Ring Road.  We were quite energetic.  If we did south first and Glymur at the end of the journey, it might be a different story.  So keep that in mind when you plan your trip.

(2) Glymur is a little more than an hour in the west of Reykjavik, so it can be a good day trip if you stay in Reykjavik. We did the hike in the morning, when we were done the parking lot was full. So do it in the morning to avoid the crowd.  It took us four hours because we took a few breaks here and there, it could be done in a shorter time.

(3) According to Extreme Iceland, Glymur used to be the highest waterfall in Iceland, with the height of 196 m, until recently a higher waterfall ‘Morsi’ in highland Morsarjokull glacier was discovered.  Because the new #1 is not well known and less accessible (I googled it but failed to find a photo of it),  people still call Glymur the highest waterfall in Iceland.

According to Google, there are more than 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland!!  I am a waterfall fanatic, we also hiked the Hengifoss,  the second highest waterfall (128m), when we were at Northeast Iceland.