The spray of nice, cool mist swirling in the air. The constant power, powerful enough to alter the landscape yet somehow silken soft. A waterfall is an wonderful experience!
Here in Iceland we bring you close to a number of the most gorgeous waterfalls, or foss, on earth. Skógarfoss, or Forest Falls, is supposed to conceal a hidden treaure ~ a chest of gold and wealth sits behind its extreme veil. And of course Gullfoss, or Golden Falls, with its broad and graceful tiers poses picture ideal for people in all seasons. And in between these cherry, silver lining the bare mountains, are tens of thousands of smaller foss, most with titles along with a story or two behind them. Some are seasonal, appearing together with the spring thaws, but others remain the year round, freezing into strange winter shapes.
Though a natural characteristic of the landscape it has somehow captured the hearts and imaginations of countless thousands of individuals, and is now a must-see for both visitors and locals alike. Its beautiful tiered fall has a gentle, soothing power and whatever the weather is always mesmerizing, even if suspended sculpture-still in winter.
After a scenic drive northward from the main highway, Route 1through winding hills and simple landscapes, Gullfoss is concealed from view until the very last minute, tucked as it’s down into a river gorge. For the first time visitor particularly, coming at the edge of the gorge gives a sense of discovery – even though there might be people around you, there is a feeling that yours would be the very first eyes to witness the autumn’s beauty.
Imagine standing just feet away in the most thunderous waterfall in Europe, and among the most complete impressive falls on earth. You see that you may also look as daredevil to them!
At the north of Iceland, it has some km off the main highway through a barren landscape and a brief hike from the parking lot, but seeing its majesty is well worth every second it takes to arrive. Pick the eastern western or side (which is a simpler drive on a paved street ) – you will not be disappointed!
It’s possible that each and every individual has envisioned, at some time in their lives, walking behind a powerful waterfall. There’s a feeling of deep mystery behind the endless curtain of mist and water which comprises a drops, and the understanding that it is practically impossible to stop the flow makes needing to see behind it even more compelling. Seen from the southern principal highway, the drops look like any other traditional ribbon of shining water, falling over 200 feet down from a volcanic cliff. Just that alone makes it attractive.
But up close something amazing comes to light: there’s a clear and simple, albeit muddy, path that curves up and around the falling water on a broad inset ledge many yards behind it, overhung with raw stone from which little plants and mosses grow. The photo opportunities are amazing, particularly as the summer sun sits low on the horizon, shining in beyond the decoration of water, but in any season or time of day there is that special sense of dream at listening to the thundering falls from firmly behind them.
While some few waterfalls are possible to go behindothers maintain their treasures and secrets more closely. Skógafoss is among them. His treasure glitters bright once the sun hits it right, but nobody yet has been able to recover any of it but a curcular manage that sits now in the historic musem close by. Knowing that generations of sailors have wondered about the treasure adds to the drops appeal.
Contrary to the gorge-style falls that can not be viewed from the street, Skógafoss gleams and drops broad and stunning from a high cliff and on a flat and effortless riverbed below. There’s a fantastic set of stairs just to the side which take you to a viewing platform on top and the beginning of a well-used hiking path, and down below again you are welcome to get as near the thundering water as you would like – though beware the continuous spray of icy glacial water!
It’s not tough to envision the Old Gods at Goðafoss, itself named in honor of the two which stand sentinal, suspended in stone, on either bank of the drops. This is one of these waterfalls that you simply don’t expect after miles of driveway over high rolling heaths. That means it is not visible until you are up near it, as it needs to be seen and experienced.
The story goes that in the year 1000 AD, when Iceland officially accepted the Christian faith, the locals pitched their pagan idols to the drops as a symbolic gesture. Considering that the almost-mythical lava formations that appear to stand sentinel over the broad and beautiful falls, and that the Old Ways were not actually forgone from the people, it appears appropriate that this waterfall has been selected for the job. Admirers can approach the drops from both sides, with well-signed walking trails as guides. It’s the ideal spot for a picnic along the northern principal highway, and historically significant too!
Apparently the only bright spot along a very barren cliff, even from a distance it beckons the traveler closer, and when attained is more beautiful than you would ever expect. It starts out as a classic glacial river toppling off the edge of a distant heath, but widens to a spectactular occasion as it spills forth over the layers of flat ridges below, forming into a river before spilling off lower ledges in more compact forms and eventually out to sea.
Getting to this spectacle of nature is not simple – the West Fjords themselves are distant, initially only accessible by boat, and most easily traveled to with the ferry which runs into the norther border of the broad Breiðafjörður bay. Imagine, after hours of sea and waterfalls, witnessing the miracle of a 330 foot high bridal veil of water widening out within a rocky mountainside, and hiking along its banks, feeling its cool mists and hearing its own secret whispers. This is the Iceland you came to find: distant and full of wonder!
At the end of a long, deep and incredibly beautiful fjord is the waterfall Glymur, the greatest falls in the nation. From a high escarpment, such as a thin ribbon it drops 650 feet to the river below, which feeds into Hvalfjörður, just a short distance north from Reykjavík. But once there, the journey is well worth the effort.
Surrounded by the mystery that’s Hvalfjörður, or Whale Fjord, and the silence of an area that was formerly the sole road to the north (the Hvalfjörður tube today redirects most visitors ) there is a feeling of escaping to a past Iceland, at once super near the bustle of town and very quite distant from everything. Glýmur is a natural phenomenon that is all about the experience you need to find it, and the feeling of achievement upon arrival.