I think we can all agree that waterfalls are pretty amazing, no matter their size or power. I get equal delight seeing a falling stream as I do standing before the roar of a massive cascade. The view of a waterfall has been the entire reason for most of my hikes and many, many roadstops and tours. Amongst the many waterfalls I have enjoyed, I've found respite beside my local favourite, Brandywine Falls and I have been awed by Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. I made ATB#2 wait while I watched the entire Reversing Falls process in Saint John, New Brunswick. I've watched wildlife beside jungle falls in Central and South America and clambered along Dunns River Falls in Jamaica. It's rare to be charged a fee, so waterfalls are perfect for the budget traveller. Today's Flashback looks at Iceland, home to some of the best waterfalls in the world. When Mady and I started our Icelandic roadtrip, we eagerly pointed out every waterfall and stopped to take photos at every opportunity.... which was several times each hour. Within days, we had created a rating system to decide whether it met our whimsical and inconsistent standards for stopping. "Ahh, that's only a 2", we'd say, "we'll wait for a 5".
Today's Flashback introduces you to my top 5 Icelandic Waterfalls or "Foss", each of which was judged to be at least a 7 on the Waterfall Scale.
After spending several days exploring the area surrounding Reykjavik, we picked up our campervan and hit the Ring Road. First, we visited Thingvellir National Park, the site of Iceland's first parliament. This waterfall is called Oxararfoss. You'll notice that the boardwalk is cut around the rock. The Icelandic people have many stories of terrible consequences when troll's rocks are moved so human constructions are often worked around the rock. It is very common to see cutouts like this. Some Icelanders will tell you that The Elf Lobby advocates for and has been successful in getting road construction diverted. Spoiler Alert: there is no Elf Lobby.
Seljalandsfoss is tall but fairly narrow set of falls. What makes these falls particularly fun is the pathway that visitors can take to walk behind the falling water.
Skógafoss is a larger waterfall, which can mean some great rainbows if the sun would shine but the wind also means it is likely that you will get wet from the spray. Pro Tip: the lightweight plastic rain ponchos tear in the Icelandic wind, take good waterproof outerwear. We learned the hard way.
Gullfoss means Golden Falls and is part of the "Golden Circle" of important sites in Southwest Iceland that also includes Thingvellir and Geysir. This is a huge waterfall falling into the continental divide. There are walking paths that allow visitors to get pretty close. This waterfall comes with a fabulous story of a landowner's daughter, Sigridur Tomasdottir, who fought plans to build a hydroelectric dam on the site, famously walking to the capital to make her case.
Dettisfoss is said to be either the first or second most powerful waterfall in Europe, depending upon the form of measurement. Located in North Iceland, this is a very wide waterfall and it is loud. It's located not far from Lake Myvatn, the northern version of the much more famous (and more expensive) Blue Lagoon. It's almost as large as Niagara Falls without all the commercialization. For foss fans, Iceland is tops. I hope you'll be able to see these and all the others when you visit Iceland. Don't forget your waterproof jackets, shoes, and hat. You will need them.
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