Heading to Háifoss, I cannot say my expectations were particularly high. I was looking forward to seeing it, of course, but having witnessed the spectacular Dynjandi and felt the spray of the almighty Dettifoss, I did not imagine my feelings for this waterfall would surpass the awe I felt for them. Their scale and power had taken my breath away and left me in a state of wonder that no other had replicated since.
I should have known better than to doubt Iceland’s ability to amaze and inspire with the incredible hidden gems of its nature.
The first thing that strikes you about Háifoss is its dizzying scale. On paper, 122 metres is simply a number, but seeing it from the opposite cliff, plummeting into a valley far below, is as daunting as it is magnificent. It takes just a moment for the rest of the view to sink in.
The valley unfolds and opens into a landscape of untouched wilderness, a river snaking around hills patched in green moss and ridges of lava. On the other side of Háifoss, another waterfall becomes apparent, beautiful in its own right but no doubt overshadowed, deserving of the name Icelanders gave it: Granni, or Neighbour. The cliffs they surge over are sheer, and a quick closer look reveals rows of hexagonal basalt columns, lined along them in perfect symmetry.
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It was the beautiful scope of colours that filled my vision, however, which impressed me most. The rocks of the cliffs were dyed with shades of orange and red. The cascades of water were a pristine white, plunging into deep blue pools below, and in the mist, faint rainbows shimmered under the sunlight.
Iceland’s nature is beautiful no matter where you go, but so often, much of that beauty comes from its starkness: endless fields of black sands; jagged lava rock under a blanket of grey moss; snowy mountain peaks and waterfalls frozen into falling daggers of ice. While that inspires its own kind of awe, Háifoss has a warmth and sense of life found in few other places in the country.
It took a few minutes of gaping to realise that the only sound filling the air was that of the thunderous cascade; there were no photographers fumbling with their cameras, no tourists chatting to each other; no tour guides trying to round up their group. There were a few other people, of course, but spaced out, and all silent in their admiration for the feature before them.
Dettifoss had blown me away with its raw power and unique surroundings; Dynjandi had impressed me even more, with its scale and isolation from the crowds. Háifoss boasted all four qualities. To have passed on the journey to see it would have been a great mistake I’d never have known I’d made.
Getting to beautiful waterfalls in Iceland is easy. Gullfoss waterfall is on the Golden Circle, a sightseeing route most visitors will take; Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss are on the South Coast within sight of the Ring Road. Getting to Háifoss takes more effort, but those who make it will be more than rewarded when they set eyes upon one of the world’s most beautiful falls, and one of Iceland’s true hidden gems.