The Unpronounceables

One of my favourite aspects of Iceland (yes, that country again) is the endless supply of waterfalls. It was while driving along the south coast road in 1999 that I first realised just how amazing this place is; Seljalandsfoss can be seen from miles away but you still don’t realise straight away just how huge it is. (Don’t forget to click on the photos to see them full size!)

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Just around the corner (well, it feels like that when you’re driving through Iceland; it’s more like 20 miles further on) is Skógafoss, a waterfall that faces south meaning that there’s almost always a rainbow for as long as the sun is out. This is another one popular with photographers.

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Further north, around Thingvellir (where that huge crack in the land is in my aerial shots from Thursday) the river Öxará (Axe river) cascades over the southern edge of the North American tectonic place rather dramatically at Öxarárfoss.

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Further north still, water that flows underground through porous lava emerges at the edge of the river Hvitá in a wall of springs unlike any other waterfall I’ve seen. These are the Lava Falls, known locally as Hraunfossar.


A short walk upstream from Hraunfossar is a waterfall with a tragic tale behind it – the story goes that a brother and sister were playing near the waterfall one Sunday when everyone else at the village was at church. The children tried to cross the waterfall at a natural arch that spanned the river, but lost their footing and fell to their deaths. On discovering what had happened, their mother cursed the waterfall so that anyone else who attempted to cross the river in the same way would perish. However the stone arch has since collapsed. The waterfall was named in honour of the children, and is known as Barnafoss (the children’s waterfall).

Barnafoss (the Children's Waterfall) in western Iceland

On the western edge of the vast Vatnajökull glacier in the south east of Iceland, the Skaftafell national park is a narrow strip of fertile green land fed by a river coming off the glacier. This river cascades down a stunning columnar basalt formation not unlike the rocks at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. It’s a short hike to reach the waterfall from the car park, but well worth it. This is the Black Waterfall, Svartifoss.


Heading to the other extreme, back in the Western Fjords, the loudest waterfall in Iceland is part of a set of waterfalls flowing into Arnafjörður fjord known as Fjallfoss (mountain waterfall), or more commonly Dynjandi (Thundering). It is also, like most of them, enormous (see if you can spot the people hiding in this picture to get an idea of the scale).


Once again apologies for the lack of equine photos, but hopefully these pictures give you some idea of the sort of scenes Icelandic horses have to put up with on a daily basis, the poor things…


2 thoughts on “The Unpronounceables

  1. Nick Post author

    Thanks Maddi! They are amazing aren’t they? I haven’t even included my favourite, Gullfoss, as whenever I visit I’m too overwhelmed to get my camera out 🙂 I’m still waiting for the perfect shot of that one.


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