You know how sometimes when the radio comes on, you look at your partner knowingly and go “that’s our song!” ? If I had to name “our waterfall”, it would definitely be one from our Icelandic honeymoon. The tougher question would be: which one?
If I hadn’t been looking intently out the car window, we would have missed this gem nestled just beside the road. Since there wasn’t any designated parking area for this “by-the-way attraction”, we pulled over along the road shoulder. As we got out, it began to snow steadily, building up to what the locals would probably have described as hundslappadrífa – snowflakes as big as a dog’s paw, falling gently in calm weather. (Did you know an Icelandic proverb claims there are more than 100 words for snow in their dictionary?).
Carefully, we made our way over the dark wet rocks to get a closer look. Except for the falling snow and cascading water, the world was completely still, and breathtakingly beautiful. For a few moments, we just stood together silently. We were two people in our very own life-size snow globe, one I wish I could have simply tucked into my pocket and take out to relive anytime.
We chanced upon the signpost for the foreign sounding Svöðufoss just a few minutes drive west of the small village of Ólafsvík and decided to check it out on a whim. Truth be told, this waterfall on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula didn’t look all that promising from afar. But don’t let that stop you from crossing the wide straw-laden fields, skipping over two streams, ducking under wired fences and hiking up the sides of the falls to the top (whew!). On a gloriously sunny day in the middle of April (technically still winter in Iceland), I found myself standing in a extraordinary field of odd-shaped ice crystals that seemed to have sprouted like mushrooms from the ground.
Can someone kindly explain this strange yet wonderful phenomenon? Or maybe I’ll just pretend that I stepped into paradise for a few magical moments, and leave it as that.
I call this the “fairytale falls” because I imagine only flying pixies would live in an unreal place like this. Actually, it is known as “lava falls”, because this prettiest series of overlapping rivulets is formed by multiple streams of spring water flowing through a porous lava field. In fact, this unique series of falls spans out so widely that my camera could only capture less than half of its entirety. With that mesmerising turquoise blue river and lush foliage (much greener in summer), it would be a perfect backdrop for a fantasy theme wedding shoot.
Set against picturesque snow dusted mountains, this waterfall gets my vote for having the best natural viewing platform. Here you can perch yourselves on the edge of a conveniently extended rocky outcrop while enjoying the surroundings. If the weather had been warmer, it would have been a perfect pit stop for a panoramic picnic lunch.
The falls are actually not too far from Þingvellir National Park on the Golden Circle route but the whole time we didn’t see anyone else around, so we had the place to ourselves. As we had to drive off the main road to get here, it is pretty isolated but will probably make a good spot to hunt for the auroras at night (if we can survive the cold, that is).
Imagine frolicking about in a private lush valley, exploring your way along a gentle meandering river to discover a gorgeous waterfall at the end – one you can actually walk behind for a different view, complete with its very own rainbow.
Did you spot my partner-in-crime above?
This little isolated slice of heaven is just a mere 2 km from the famous Skógafoss, but unlike the latter, it is a little tricky to locate as it is not signposted. And with only vague knowledge of its rough location, we got a little confused when the GPS brought us to a fenced field at the dead end of a dirt track with no sign of any waterfall in sight. Soon we discovered the way in was a climb over a short ladder going over the wired fence, followed by an easy walk on a well trodden path.
For the effort (hardly any, and I enjoyed every bit of the hike) it took us to get there, the experience was so immensely rewarding. And that is is one of the best things I love about Iceland – its accessible beauty.
So, are you ready to start chasing waterfalls?