From Iceland — If You Worship Nature, Svartifoss Will Be Your Altar

If You Worship Nature, Svartifoss Will Be Your Altar

Published August 11, 2011

Haukur S. Magnússon
Photo by
Julia Staples

Park ranger Auður Hafstað jokingly told us that the biggest part of her job is telling tourists how to get to the Svartifoss waterfall (“Black Falls”). We all shared a good laugh at that, but when we reached Svartifoss after a short hike (as per Auður’s instructions) we instantly understood why all these travellers were so excited to get there.


Describing Svartifoss and its surroundings as ‘a natural cathedral’ is likely a travel writing cliché by now, but that doesn’t make the description any less true. After a 45-minute hike from the information centre that takes you past two waterfalls (Hundafoss and Magnúsarfoss—those are already sort of stunning), one reaches Svartifoss and the only suitable reaction is to let ones jaw drop and gasp at the wonder of it all.


Enveloped by thick, black, hexagonal basalt columns, the waterfall itself spews forth water from 12 metres up high right at the centre of the stacked basalt columns, that align in sort of a dome or semicircle. One is constantly faced with the question: do I look at the majestic falling water or do I look at the majestic basalt columns and their formation. It’s like being religious must feel.

One can stand there a long time, looking and listening.

And one will probably go there again, later.

Check out more of our travel here:


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