Day 9: Last day of our trip! so we had to make it EPIC. Thankfully the weather held out for us today as well so we got to do an actual legit hike to Iceland’s tallest waterfall
The hike is only about an hour away from Reykjavik and was right about half way back in our case. You follow more stunning Fjords along the drive like the one above!
We got there bright and early to beat any possible crowds so we were briefly in the shade but not for long!
The start of the hike had excellent well marked signs!
Trail stats: around 7.5 km RT (depending on route) and plan for 3-4 hours
Elevation gain: 245 m or around 800 feet
Parking is free and there are NO FACILITIES at the trail head.
or really any close by for that matter
There are 2 routes, I would HIGHLY recommend going up the “normal” marked way as A. it is easier to follow and B. you’ll want to experience this side of the canyon no matter what and it would truly be more terrifying coming down than going up.. you’ll see what I mean.
After not too long you’ll come to this cave/ tunnel overlook which is actually where the trail passes through!
The view through the other side of the tunnel.
There are 2 large cave openings here. You can see the trail continues from the one on the left
10 minutes into the hike and already loving it!
The view once you emerge from the cave. A little further down you’ll have to cross the river and start your uphill trek. The narrow canyon up there is where Glymur is!!!
A waterfall you pass along the way.
The RAGING river crossing we were holy unprepared for! We had read that there is a log crossing.. which there is but as you can see it only covers about HALF the river. Apparently you can normally have a dry crossing but not us! NOPE round 1 of taking our shoes off, strapping them to our bags, and wading across. This actually turned out to be fairly EASY and crossing the log was infinitely easier barefoot than with clunky boots on.. so maybe a blessing none of us slipped and fell off the log! haha
First look looking back towards the caves and initial overlook
You can see the log crossing up ahead! EEEEEE
Starting the climb up post log crossing
And a little higher. I must say that the next part after the log crossing was pretty CHALLENGING. There were parts that were so STEEP we had to cling to a rope to pull ourselves up. The ground was muddy and wet and needless to say, I did not look forward to coming back down this way.
Braden looking down the canyon
Risking my life to go stand out on that ledge… to look absolutely tiny in this amazing landscape!
(jk mom… it wasn’t THAT dangerous)
You can see the big amazing fjord we drove along to get to the parking area!
Our first glimpse of the waterfall! Along with all the other waterfalls emptying down into the same canyon!
And another viewpoint a little bit closer up. The waterfall is TALLER than what you see as it has a few ledges that are above the narrow canyon walls.
Continuing to climb up along the edges and passing may more waterfalls
Blue sky graced us with its presence again today!
Waterfall facts: 193m(643 feet) tall
I loved how the canyon narrowed and is covered with moss ! So pretty!
Looking back down along the canyon. We’d come a long way!
The top of this magnificent waterfall! So big, there’s no way to even fit it all in one photo!
We’d read that there is another trail on the opposite side of the canyon and waterfall and had SEEN people hiking up it across the way. Since it was SO STEEP and scary at times the way we came up, we figured we’d attempt to LOOP hike it and go down the other trail.
A peaceful river flows directly toward a 645 foot drop of a waterfall…
Looking upstream at the river
The loop requires a SECOND river crossing, 1 much more challenging than the first.
The river is thankfully fairly shallow and gentle, but extremely WIDE and ROCKY. With chacos or water-shoes, this would probably be a cinch. But wading across barefoot (water wasn’t that deep but DEF too deep for all our boots) with $1000 worth of camera equipment around your neck was definitely NOT my cup of tea.
But we all made it across and have never been so happy to put warm dry boots back on my feet while hiking. haha
The reward was a view from the opposite side to see the water as it serenely falls off a steep cliff.
It was worth the pain of 1,000 sharp rocks under my feet to see the top of these falls from both sides!
Serene indeed. Look out below!
2nd reward: getting a bigger picture of the top of these falls
So keep in mind future wanderers, if you choose to go up the easy side and avoid all river crossings, this is the most of the waterfall you’ll see as all of the other shots can only be seen from the OTHER side. Considering the steep climbs and mud, I would DEF recommend coming up the other way and down the more gradual sloping way if you want to loop like we did.
Both sides of the canyon definitely have beautiful perspectives of the waterfall!
Looking out toward the fjord and amazing fall colors!
This is where this trail gets TRICKY. There are 2 routes and several foot paths that are NOT trails. If you follow the CAIRN towers, this will be a LONG route as it winds itself over beyond the car park and has to back track back. The other trail I believe starts right around this area and follows the canyon cliffs back down.
Unfortunately we did a sort of… combo. We followed the cairns until we saw how far it was going out of the way, then we followed a spur trail that very much looked LEGIT, but took us to NO WHERE. Begin out time being absolutely LOST in Iceland. haha We spent quite a lot of time bush whacking, getting excited thinking we found THE trail when really…. it wasn’t and having our hopes dashed SEVERAL times. It probably took us twice as long as it would’ve to get back down but eventually… we found the actual trail… several muddy boots later. (I think I was the only one who didn’t fully douse my foot in a mud pit.. and that my friends is why I am a slow hiker haha)
Ah, a welcome site the car park which had seriously filled up while we were hiking. (There were only like 4 cars when we started)
And can you guess which vehicle is ours? lol We conquered quite a lot of mud and dirt roads on our round trip ring road drive.
Continuing our drive back to Reykjavik we were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow over the fjord!
We finished in the afternoon and just had a short 1 hourish drive back into Reyk! Awesome and the sun was still out 😀
misery rain we faced on day 1, this is my follow up for what Reykjavik looks like in the sun.. not too mention a few more stops. Since it was our last night in Iceland, we had to make the most of it!
Starting with the
maybe overly touristy, AWESOME
While certainly not the oldest church I’ve been to in Europe (not even close) I have to say the Hallgrímskirkj church is beautiful! It’s free to visit and located pretty close to the city center and other fun places you’d go anyway!
It took 41 years to build this church with it being completed in 1986. The recognizable tower is 74.5m (244 ft) high making it among the tallest structures in Iceland.
Unlike other European church in France/ Italy, this cathedral wasn’t boasting in stained glass and ornate details however I loved the clean lines and light that was let in. The 5275 pipe organ was also an impressive site in the back of the church.
Decorative design on the metal front doors of the church
Also unlike the older churches of Europe, this modern building has ELEVATOR access to the observation tower. What an idea! Then again… It somewhat took away from my experience to not have to climb a million stair to get a view. You puchase tickets for the tower in the small store at the entrance to the church, then join the line waiting for the elevator. It’s a small elevator that only allows 6 people at a time so depending on how long the line is.. may take a while. We hit it at a slow point so we were up in a matter of minutes!
View of the rest of the church from the tower
If you want any sort of view of Reykjavik then I highly recommend forking over the money to ride the elevator to the top. It was worth it to take in the coastal views and colorful buildings from above in my book. It’s a quick stop depending on how long it takes you to walk around 4 corners but if you love a city view, don’t miss it.
Panorama of the city
Braden snapped a shot of me gazing out the window at the city.
*The top of the tower is NOT insulated… which is great since you don’t want foggy glass mussing up your photos, but… dress accordingly.
Last view of the city with Mt. Esjan (another popular hiking destination) is the mountain shrouded in clouds across the way there
Hallgrímskirkj Observation tower Practical Information:
Winter Opening Hours
October – April: 09:00 – 16:30
Summer Opening Hours
May – September: 09:00 – 20:30
*Services: The tower is closed on Sundays from 10:30 – 12:15 during mass at 11:00
Cost: Entry to the tower, adults: ISK 900
Children 7-14 years old: ISK 100
Clock in the tower as you wait for the elevator to go back down
All in all we were up and down in 20 minutes and waiting for our friends to meet back up
I pose for a photo outside the church.
More fun building architecture to photograph!
The statue of Leif Eriksson (c. 970 – c. 1020) by Alexander Stirling Calder in front of the church. This statue was actually a gift from the United States in honor of the 1930 Alþingi Millennial Festival, commemorating the 1000th anniversary of Iceland’s parliament at Þingvellir in 930 AD
For those of you who DON’T know who Leif Eriksson, he is credited with being the first explored to DISCOVER NORTH AMERICA. (Right?! What about Columbus…?) That’s what I said… ANYWHO he was a Norse settler from Iceland/ Greenland and he is credited with beginning a settlement in Newfoundland, Canada.
More of the DOORIIEEE details
(See what I did there?)
After our visit to the church we explored a bit more of the city (in the not warm but at least DRY weather) and it was off to a much better start than our previous Reykjavik day.
One of the restaurants/ bars in the city
First up we visited the Iconic Lebowski Bar for Happy Hour.
I was in it for the French fries personally which were delicious I’m happy to report.
Details of the Lebowski bar bathrooms
If you’re wanting to enjoy all Iceland has to offer in way of beverages, your most affordable way is to definitely explore during Happy hour!
Sign above the Lebowki bar. I loved the patio sign haha (steaming 5 degrees Celsius…)
Bowling alley on the wall
Next up we visited the Laundromat cafe
This place does NOT offer a happy hour and serves hot Chai tea in a very inappropriate (soda?) glass but otherwise was pretty good! It boasts loads of books!, coffee/drinks/food, a children’s play area, and of course… a laundromat.
The play area/ children’s books were downstairs next to the laundry facilities but all in all I thought it was a fun idea and the Chai I had was pretty good. (Just not served in an insulated cup!… like it should be)
We ended the night at a cheap shawerma place called Ali Babba that was on the same street as the other cafes/ restaurants. Braden and I were still living somewhat off the giant thing of fries from earlier so we easily shared a plate. All in all the meat and rice here were delicious and MUCH more affordable than city restaurants.
And then it was like returning home as we stayed in the same Airbnb our last night as our first night.
We liked it THAT much.
Then the next morning we were up an out by 6AM to catch our flight home
Day 9 Total driving distance and time: 135km and 2 hours
Day 9 Costs:
Rental Car breakdown for 1 day/2 people: $66
Gas breakdown average/ day for 2 people: $18/ day
Airbnb apartment (with 1st time user of airbnb discount): $184 for 4, or $92 for 2
Chuch tower – $17
Large shared plate at Ali Baba’s – $17
Lebowski Bar fries and 1 drink at happy hour– $14.50
The Laundromat cafe (coffee and chai tea)- $10
PARKING IN REYKJAVIK IS FREE ON SUNDAYS
Total Cost for Day 9: $235.50 for 2 people
TOTAL TRIP COST for 9 days/ 2 people: $2,697 (not including flights) or $4,210 with flights
Driving Totals for the Ring ROAD: 2,355 km and around 33 hours in the car