Gullfoss (=golden-waterfall) in the river Hvítá (White River) comprises two falls, the upper one 11 m, the lower one 21 m. Lying in 'The Golden Triangle' east of Reykjavik, it is the best known waterfall in the country.
The second fall of Gullfoss where the water thunders into the ravine.
Seljalandsfoss drops 60 m. It is possible to walk behind the waterfall. It's found west of Eyjafjallajökull near the river Markarfljót, north of the Ring Road. The summer of 2010 it was especially easy to find because there had been a jökulhlaup (=large-flooding-caused-by-volcanic-melting-of-glacier) in Markarfljót during the eruption under Eyjafjallajökull. The Ring Road had been temporarily repaired.
The beautiful waterfall Skógafoss is 60 meters high. It's found in Skógar immediately south of the glacier Eyjafjallajökull, the one hiding the volcano that stopped European air traffic in the spring of 2010. Like Seljalandsfoss (above) it fall off a long cliff shaped by the sea when the land was depressed by the ice sheet during the last Ice Age.
One of the best known motifs in Iceland, the beach of Vík í Mýrdal (south of Mýrdalsjökull). The rocks protruding from the sea are called Reynisdrangar (drangur [drangar] = rock pillar[s]) and the mountain to the right Reynisfjall (which means 'Rowan-mountain', maybe named after the last one of the species?). For tourists visiting Vík, a walk on the black sand beach is a must, but the whole salty Atlantic is out there, so watch out for the seventh wave. (See also Vikurkirkja
The 904 meters bridge across the river Skeiđará near the eastern end of Skeiđarsandur, the largest sands in Iceland, roughly 1000 km˛. It is situated south of the glacier Skeiđarárjökull, a branch of the west part of Vatnajökull. It is littered with rivers coming from the glacier. This sands make building and maintaining roads difficult. As late as 1974, on the 1100 years settlement centennial, this bridge was opened to complete the great ring road. Hidden below Vatnajökull there are several volcanos, the most active one is Grimsvötn whose name actually refers to a cluster of subglacial lakes. When it erupts, it doesn't always result in a jökulhlaup (flood), but in the autumn of 1996 it did. After meltwater had been collected for more than a month in the caldera, the ice lifted, and all the water rushed to the sea within two days, carrying icebergs with it. The flood culminated after 15 hours and the volume was then estimated to be nearly 50,000 mł/s, about one sixth of a typical Amazon river flood. This bridge was partly destroyed, another bridge (Gígjukvisl) was totally destroyed, and a substantial part of the road was also washed away.
The 20 m Svartifoss (=black-waterfall) doesn't thunder, but its surround is quite peculiar: Black hexagonal basalt columns formed by crystallization of very slowly cooling lava (see second large picture). It's situated within the great Skaftafell National Park (which includes most of Vatnajökull); Skaftafellsjökull and Skeiđarárjökull are close neighbors (jökull=glacier). You'll have to hike uphill to get there, the trip to the waterfall and back takes 1–1˝ hours. On a fine day you'll get a good view of the large plain Skeiđarsandur with its many rivers, and an even better view if you follow the signs to a lookout point.
Jökulsárlón, the best known and most visited glacial lake in the country, situated at the Ring Road southeast of Breiđamerkurjökull, a branch of Vatnajökull. Chunks of more than thousand years old ice break loose from the jökull, sorry, glacier, and remain in the lake till they have melted (the outlet to the ocean is shallow). Those chunks are large, only a tenth is above the surface. In this picture many of them have a black cover, maybe black volcanic sand, maybe ashes from the recent eruption out west. The literal translation of Jökuls-ár-lón is glacier-river-lagoon.
Three amphibians carry tourist among the icebergs in Jökulsárlón, always guided by a rubber boat.
View of the coastline at Lćkjavik in southeast Iceland.
Entering Hallormsstadaskogur, the largest (planted) forest in Iceland, from Egilstađir. (Hallormur is a man's given name, rather uncommon these days though. Egill is also a man's name, and quite common.)
Lagarfljót, the lake with the monster serpent, southwest of Egílstađir. Along the northeast side of the lake runs a large stretch of planted forest – Hallormsstadaskogur; the southwest end of it can be seen here. From close to the northwest (right) side of the bridge runs a steep track to the great waterfall Hengifoss. Many Icelandic rivers carry with them lots of suspended particles, and Lagarfljót looks rather dirty. The picture also shows the result of clean rivers flowing into the lake.
Road 1 on the highland plain east of Jökulsá á Fjöllom. Again, the spring is late this year and more greenness should have been visible. The distant mountain out west (left side) is Herđubreiđ (1682 m) ('herđabreiđur' means 'square-shouldered'; 'beiđur'='broad')
Dettifoss is 45 meters high and the average flow is 193 m3
/s (cubic meters per second), but the maximum flow may be some 4–500 m3
/s. Using these numbers we get an average power of 85 MW (megawatts) or a maximum power of roughly 200 MW, which supposedly makes it the most powerful waterfall in Europe. (This power is of course wasted, it just heats the water by slightly more than a tenth of a centigrade.) Dettifoss is reached by driving 35 km northwest from the Ring Road east of Mývatn, on an often bad gravel road. These pictures are taken from the east side of the river, but the waterfalls are also accessible from a road on its west side. The river Jökulsá á Fjöllum comes from Vatnajökull and a river (á) coming from a glacier (jökul) tends to be called Jökulsá. Fjöllum means mountains, plural and dative case. The name Dettifoss seems rather unimaginative: 'Detta' means 'fall or fall down' and foss means 'waterfall'.
Spectators at the top of Dettifoss feeling its power.
A part of Jökulsárgljútur just downstream (north) of Dettifoss, a 25 kilometers long ravine starting at Selfoss (below). (Please remember that it's still springtime on North Iceland.)
From Dettifoss you may continue on foot along a very rough 1.4 km trail upstream to Selfoss. This waterfall is only 11 meters high, but because of its total width it may look even more spectacular than Dettifoss. (Unlike the other Selfoss
at the south coast, the present name has nothing to do with the marine mammal seal. Instead it is derived from the name of an abandoned farm, Holssel, 'sel' meaning mountain or summer dairy.)
Gođafoss (Waterfall-of-the-gods) in the river Skjálfandafljót falls 12 meters. Here it's seen from the east bank. It is situated at the Ring Road roughly midway between Mývatn and Akureyri. On the annual Alţingi (parliament) in Ţingvellir the summer of 1000, lawspeaker Ţorgeir Ljósvetningagođi obtained a resolution that made Iceland Christian. After returning home he threw his figures of the Norse gods into this waterfall, and this is the origin of its name.
Gođafoss seen from the west bank.
This picture is taken in
in the valley Öxnadalur, southwest of Akureyri. It is a grove planted from 1951 on and dedicated to the memory of Jónas Hallgrímsson (1807–1845). He was a scientist and a popular patriotic poet, born close by on the farm Hraun (to the left, unfortunately not visible). Jónas also translated foreign (including scientific) literature into Icelandic and then coined many new Icelandic words. (Please note that words [and horses] are never imported to Iceland.) In 1946 his remains were moved from Copenhagen to
the national burial ground at Ţingvellir
, to be buried on his birthday 16. November, now the Icelandic Language Day.
Beyond lies a farm, a tractor harrowing and stirring up dust. And further away the mountain range Háafjall with this incredible peak Hraundrangi (1075 m).
A closer look at Hraundrangi (from the farm name 'Hraun' [= lava] + drangur = (rock) pillar), probably the dream of many mountaineers.
Hraunfossar, a series of waterfalls emerging from under the lava of Hallmundarhraun ('rhaun' means 'lava field'). This lava field was created around the year 800, shortly before the settlers arrived. It's situated in West Iceland, east of Reykholt, and the name of the river is Hvítá (=white-river, not unique).
Tourist on the rim of a pseudocrater
in Skútustađir, Mývatn – and the night sky.
Iceland is special – wherever you go, the environment has its own kinds of strange beauty.