Referred to by some as ´The Beast’ in comparison to ‘The Beauty’ of Goðafoss, this monstrous behemoth of a waterfall is guaranteed to steal your breath away. Set within stark, rocky surrounds with bone-shatteringly sheer drops on either side, there couldn´t be a more fitting backdrop for such untethered natural power. It’s a truly unmissable jewel in the Diamond Circle’s crown, one you will never forget.
Facts & Figures
The name Dettifoss could be loosely translated as ‘The Collapsing Waterfall’. Officially holding the title of the most powerful waterfall in Europe, an average of 96,500 gallons of water crosses its bow every single second. Such is its force, the mist from the falls are visible from several miles away.
Straggling a 100 metre wide abyss, Dettifoss plummets 45 metres to the craggy shores below. To put this into perspective, this is about the height of the Statue of Liberty, so, pretty damn high.
Dettifoss was recently featured in the opening scene of Ridley Scott’s 2012 Aliens prequel, Prometheus. There was also a piece named after it by the Icelandic composer, Jón Leifs.
If you’ve time to take a wander, it’s about 4km upstream to see Dettifoss’ little sister, Selfoss. Two kilometres in the other direction, there is a turning point off the road if you’d like to reach their other sibling, Hafragilsfoss. The closest approach is from the western side, but beware – this is a particularly adventurous route, expect to scramble down ropes and steep inclines.
The Jökulsa Canyon
Iceland´s answer to the Grand Canyon, the gorge which houses the wonder of Dettifoss warrants a lot more than a quick detour off the ring road. Nationally treasured as a haven for walkers, it’s widely regarded as one of the most beautiful places in Iceland to hike. For alongside the triple whammy of Dettifoss, Selfoss and Hafragilsfoss, there are magnificent geological anomalies, such as the Whispering Rocks of Hljoðaklettar and the footprint of Odin´s horse, Ásbyrgi.
Getting To Dettifoss
The Jökulsa Canyon has parallel roads on either side, stretching from Ásbyrgi in the North towards Mývatn in the South. With Dettifoss in the middle, this means you have four options on how to reach it (SW, SE, NW, NE).
The only tarmac road is from the southwest, so in the winter this is usually the best option. But in summer, it´s great to come from the northwest, as this gives you the chance to see Ásbyrgi and Hljoðaklettar on the way. Though gravel, the northern roads are still drivable with a 2WD car and the bumpyness only adds to the sense of adventure.
Whichever route you choose, and whenever you go, always check the road updates on Vegagerdin just before you set off, as they change from day to day depending on the weather.
View the route map to Dettifoss
View the bus schedule to Dettifoss
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