T.L.C. once warned us not to go chasing waterfalls. Not to discredit one of the greatest R&B/hiphop groups to have graced the airwaves, but Iceland will force you to reconsider the wisdom of that advice.
Whether you drive by mountains to see impromptu snowmelt waterfalls or schedule time to stop and check famous falls off your list, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll get to enjoy at least a couple of these amazing behemoths as you explore this beautiful, waterfall-hunting destination.
During our drive along the Golden Circle, we froze while we ogled Gulfoss, but didn’t get much more waterfall action than that. Then, on our South Coast tour, we got to enjoy three very different waterfalls with three very different experiences.
The first stop on our South Coast tour, Urriðafoss wasn’t quite what we were expecting.
It feels like it’s off the beaten track, rather than being a landmark like Gulfoss. It’s also kind of little. Actually, it reminds me a lot of some of the more intense rapids at home on the James River.
The area is relatively uneventful, to be honest. It’s a little off the main road, with no visible nearby buildings or other landmarks. That said, I can imagine a picnic lunch near the waterfall would be lovely during warmer weather, and would 100% plan to come back with munchies in hand.
In the winter, though, perhaps leave this one off the schedule, unless you’re specifically chasing all of Iceland’s famous waterfalls.
Boyfriend Perspective: Yup. What she said.
This is the first time we had a tour guide not-so-gently request that we wear krampons on an outing, and when you see the ground close up, it makes perfect sense. Large waterfalls like Skógafoss have a huge spray radius, especially when the wind picks up. So, the surrounding area is much more likely to ice over at a faster rate than the rest of the landscape.
Boyfriend Perspective: This spot was actually used for the filming of both Thor: The Dark World, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Did we promise nerdy travel? Because we just delivered nerdy travel. Mostly.
By this time, Luke’s jetlag had worn off, and he was ready to explore. So, we nabbed a few shots at the base of the falls, then started the trek (and I do mean TREK) up to the summit. This climb consists of approximately 500 grated metal steps with a railing that alternates between solid, old rope, and just… air. TL;DR: to do this, either be fit or be patient!
The view from the top – once I stopped freaking out about the steps moving in the wind – was beyond amazing, and we even caught a glimpse of a rainbow streaking across the falls. Completely and totally worth a visit.
By the time we got to Seljalandsfoss, we were on our last stop of the day and extremely tired. This, however did not stop Luke from zipping up his wind and rain layer and popping off to explore behind this famous spot. While you can’t trek to the top of this guy, the views Luke captured from the cavern behind the waterfall were absolutely gorgeous. Happily, he was quite literally a smartypants – he chose water-repellant pants for the trip, and had a fantastic waterproof outer layer.
Boyfriend Perspective: My water repellent pants weren’t enough to save me. My bottom half was completely soaked through to the skin from the spray. If you want to go behind the waterfall, which I recommend doing at least once because it was pretty cool, be sure to get WATERPROOF EVERYTHING. I would suggest a swimming wet suit… you can thank me later.
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Also published on Medium.