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Iceland: Gullfoss

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Gullfoss | Iceland | Europe

[Visited: November 2008]

While approaching Gullfoss, my expectations were rising, as the sun finally seemed to be able to burn through the clouds that had been hanging over this part of Iceland for most of the day. Indeed, when I reached the viewpoint which allowed me a first glimpse of Gullfoss, the view was great. The Hvítá river comes from a seemingly flat landscape, increases its speed as it flows over the first cascade, and then disappears in a narrow ravine where it causes a tall and wide cloud of mist to hang over the landscape. The canyon into which Gullfoss disappears is so narrow, that it is impossible to see the bottom from the higher vantage points: it seems the water disappears into the earth.

Picture of Gullfoss (Iceland): Rainbow in the mist of icy Gullfoss

Fortunately, there are some trails you can walk to get a different look on Gullfoss. One takes you a little upstream, which allows for a closer look on the first cascade, as well as a better look into the crevice. Since the wall of the crevice is directly opposite the final fall of Gullfoss, the spray of the water is forced up into the sky, high above the course of the river itself. As it was freezing, there were isolated patches of ice wherever this spray finally fell back to the earth. After soaking in the view from high above, I descended towards a point just above the final fall. The late afternoon sun shining right through the water curtain drawn by Gullfoss was spectacular.

Picture of Gullfoss (Iceland): Gullfoss disappearing into the narrow ravine

Here, the true force of Gullfoss, or Golden Fall, was much easier to appreciate. After all, I was looking at the most powerful waterfall of Europe. Here, I could also get a good view of the canyon in which the river Hvítá continues its way towards the Atlantic: a narrow, rocky crevice. Being a little disobedient, I crossed the rope of the path, allowing me to walk on the icy rock directly facing Gullfoss. Here, the rays of sunlight created bright rainbows over the frosty landscape of frozen fog, and I could not take my eyes off the sights unfolding in front of me, while I walked downstream. After a while, at last, I had a full view of Gullfoss, that hides its beauty inside its narrow ravine. But what beauty it is.

Picture of Gullfoss (Iceland): Sunlight piercing through the fine wall of water spray at Gullfoss
Picture of Gullfoss (Iceland): Final drop of Gullfoss, with fog freezing to the earth
Picture of Gullfoss (Iceland): Permanent cloud hanging over Gullfoss
Picture of Gullfoss (Iceland): View over Gullfoss from above: first cascade
Picture of Gullfoss (Iceland): Water of Hvítá river coming down the first cascade and running to the second
Picture of Gullfoss (Iceland): Haze of Gullfoss
Picture of Gullfoss (Iceland): Gullfoss seen from above
Picture of Gullfoss (Iceland): Fog of Gullfoss with sunlight shining through
Picture of Gullfoss (Iceland): View on the two cascades of Gullfoss

Around the World in 80 Clicks

Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Gullfoss (Iceland). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Gullfoss.
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