kógafoss the way tourists see it. From the front. Missing a gem that's 'rather' nearby.

Skógafoss: gold behind the waterfall?

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Skógafoss the way tourists see it. From the front. Missing a gem that’s ‘rather’ nearby.

Sometimes, tourism hubs turn out to have beautiful hidden spots as well. If you take time to explore the environment a little, that is. One of the best examples I know, is Skógafoss, one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls: big, beautiful and impressive, a stunning pearl situated on Iceland’s former south coastline. Usually it is packed with tourists: hordes of people dressed in silly hiking gear (I’ll explain later why this is silly), taking pictures, hoping to catch a (double) rainbow on a sunny day. Then they drive on to other places in the south. Not realizing there’s a real gem ‘rather’ close at hand.

Rumour – well legend – has it that Þrasi Þórólfsson, one of the first settlers in Iceland, hid a golden treasure in a cave behind the waterfall. Locals found the chest years later, but only managed to grasp one of the rings on the side of the chest. Then the treasure chest disappeared again. You can see the ring in the local folk museum nearby nowadays.

The part about the golden treasure is almost true. It’s the stairs next to Skógafoss that lead to the real treasure. It’s a bit of a tiring climb (but I’m not really used to it – so even a unsporty person can do this). Yet it was worth it, the view up there is breathtaking (pun not intended)! There are some other cute little waterfalls and you get a very nice overview of the area.

My golden treasure on the black beach

It’s also the end (or the start) of 22 km hiking trail between the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull leading up to Fimmvörðuháls and then to Þórsmörk. I never attempted this one, but friends who did it, really loved it.

I have many fond memories of this waterfall. Last time we were there, in 2012, we got a funny request. When we wanted to start to climb the stairs, all of a sudden a Canadian lady asked us:”Can I take a picture of you? I really like your fancy hiking gear. It’s interesting to see how people hike here in Iceland.”

Our fancy hiking gear :-)
Our fancy hiking gear 🙂

I wore a dress, walking shoes and an Icelandic lopapeysa, the boyfriend chose a suit jacket. It stood out against all the boring hiking clothes other people wore. {I’m sorry if I insult some of you. Hiking clothes are useful when you’re really hiking. Climbing up Skógafoss is basically climbing stairs which can be perfectly done in a dress and a suit jacket. Nowadays there’s even a handrail, which wasn’t the case when I visited it back in 2002} We posed for her and chatted away about the different hiking clothes people wear. It’s always very nice to meet people on the road!

When we arrived upstairs back then, we even caught a double rainbow, which was just marvelous. So, one advice: take your time to go up there!

Do you need more inspiration for your trip to Iceland? Check all my posts!

Double rainbow - waw
Double rainbow – waw
Loved this rock next to the waterfall

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