Iceland often surprises with its otherworldly landscape, one of these is undoubtedly the mystical Nauthúsagil Ravine. Found in the southern region of the country, it consists of magical waterfalls and shapes created by centuries of geological layering combined with rain, wind, and erosion.
Nauthúsagil Canyon is still referred to today as the “well-hidden gem” along the F249 Eyjafjallajökull Volcano Trail. As with most hidden spots, it’s best to visit this area during summer when the vegetation is at its height of beauty and diversity.
The place has been relatively kept a secret up until recently, due to its difficult-to-access location. It is positioned behind the local farm Stóra-Mörk. Unlike the surrounding area, the name Nauthúsagil translates rather blandly as ‘Bull Shed Ravine’. Presumably, the farm did indeed house large domestic animals in the 18th century, which fed on the neighboring pastures. A further small farm building existed there until 1777. It is associated with the mythological legend of the unfortunate family of the three Nauthús brothers and their sister. It is believed that the farm became abandoned due to the extreme misfortune and magic that was cast upon her.
The waterfalls of Nauthúsagil Ravine.
The several waterfalls complete the imprint of uniqueness. To go to the first one at the end of the small and narrow ravine, you need to cross a shallow river on stepping-stones. For this, it’s a good idea to have boots and waterproof clothing.
Not far away is the all too popular Seljalandsfoss waterfall, famous for the exceptional opportunity to walk behind it. Next to it is its next sibling, the Gljúfrabúi waterfall, which in turn is hidden behind a huge rock in a small gorge. Until a while ago, it was not well known, precisely because of its hidden location, but today it is actively visited and is not inferior in popularity to Seljalandsfoss. A walk along the western end of the canyon will allow you to enjoy a third beautiful waterfall. Waterfalls are described by tourists as extremely tranquil places, where one feels the solitude and uniqueness of the individual precisely because of its unity with nature. Above the falls looms another all-too-famous formation whose fundamental role in creating chaos in European airspace in 2010 will long be remembered – that of the fearsome volcano Eyjafjallajökull.
To get a better idea of what it is like to walk within the Nauthúsagil ravine, take a look at this short video right here.
The flora at Nauthúsagil
Unlike other attractive areas in the country, Nauthúsagil has its own vegetative characteristic: these are the massive densely spaced sycamore trees that cover the edges of the ravine. Nauthúsagil is famous for the sycamore (Sorbus aucuparia) that grows on its ridge and whose numerous trunks lean over the ravine, some almost horizontally. The view is impressive, especially when the tree is in full bloom. Interestingly enough, in some parts their crowns join and overlap, and create a semi-permeable canopy over the entire ravine that adds an extra charisma to the already beautiful landscape.
The tree is considered sacred. As there is not a great variety of tree species in the country, this grove is of special interest: the trunk of the rowan tree is supposedly the largest in Iceland, and in a 1930 measurement its diameter was found to be 1.5 m, and its height 9 m. A few years after its measurement, the tree fell, was put on a cart pulled by 8 horses, and placed in Skógasafn Museum. Along with the volcanoes, you can also enjoy the view of the surrounding farm fields along the Markarfljót River.
Fancy seeing the wonders of Nauthúsagil in your own time? If so, then why book a Roadtrip with us?