Gljúfrafoss or Gljúfrabui is a small but beautiful waterfall on Iceland’s South Coast, in Hamragarðar, and close to the popular and much visited Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
The waterfall is known by both names, but the latter is more popular, formed from the Icelandic terms for “gorge”, “canyon”, “dweller”, hence the designation “Canyon Dwelling”. A massive cliff facing the south coast of Iceland and the Atlantic Ocean hides it; it partially obscures the waterfall, but a small path in the narrow canyon guides the way straight through to the waterfall. Some of its admirers consider it to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country: the water falling from the green hills of Mount Eyjafjöll into the gorge from a height of 40 meters gives it mystery and uniqueness.
The journey to Gljúfrabui
The area of Gljúfrabui is much visited because of its tranquillity and the wonderful panoramas that arouse the interest of photographers. As it is accessible via the Ring Road, it is easily discoverable by visitors as it’s only about an hour and a half from the capital (128 km). It is 60 km from the town of Vík. The road markings are good and you can easily find your way around, especially if you pass through the populated towns of Hveragerði, Selfoss, Hella, and Hvolsvöllur.
And if you’d rather visit Seljalandsfoss first, its sibling is about a 10-minute walk north. Parking next to the waterfall is free, but sometimes it’s hard to find a spot. Near the waterfall is the road to the Þórsmörk valley.
Warning to visitors: Stock up on waterproof clothing as you’ll surely need it! Make sure your camera or phone stays dry by putting them in waterproof cases!
Gljúfrabui and the surrounding area
Simply follow the small river that leaves from the waterfall. If you want to enter the canyon, prepare for a bath of water spray – in any weather. Notice also the Eyjafjallajökull glacier that feeds the falls, and the volcano below it, which caused air traffic chaos across Europe when it erupted in 2010.
Also nearby is Sólheimajökull, Iceland’s most popular glacial spring for glacier tourism, stretched over a vast terrain of volcanic ash that resembles a black sand desert. A little further along the south coast are the Dyrhólaey cliffs, and Reynisfjara Beach with its basalt sea walls.