One of the most popular attractions of East Iceland, the Hengifoss waterfall is known as the 3rd highest waterfall in the country. It measures a whopping total of 128 meters in height and is mainly popular with the beautiful backdrop of the ribbon-like cascading waterfall. Made with striking red clay and beautiful black basalt rock, the alternating colored pattern of the rocks creates a beautiful contrast for the white as snow falling water in the forefront. The breath-taking fiery red and black patterned rock is not the only thing that will soothe your eyes in this gem of Eastfjords, the path that leads to the waterfall is covered with stunning colors which brings a certain vibe of serenity to the place.
Showcasing a geographical history of about 5-6 million years the Hengifoss waterfall is every bit beautiful and worth your time as it sounds. One of the best places to visit in Iceland, the place will not only treat you with exceptionally beautiful landscapes and sites but also many historical and mythological facts that will have you awe-inspired instantly. The spectacular Hengifoss waterfall falls into the gorge Hengifossárgljúfur located in Fljótsdalur valley. Hengifoss waterfall is about 145 meters above sea level and it takes a hike of 2.5 km approx. from the parking spot to reach the waterfall.
Way to the Hengifoss Waterfall
If you are staying in the capital city than it may take you a while to reach the trailhead of the hike that ends at Hengifoss waterfall. The trailhead to the Hengifoss waterfall is almost 700 km away from the capital city so it will take you about 1.5 days to get to the place via a car. Therefor Hengifoss waterfall is the perfect stop if you are driving the Ring Road around the country since it is only around 30 minutes detour from Egilsstaðir, the capital of East Iceland. Drive along Lagarfljót Lake from Egilsstaðir until you reach the parking lot next to the trail that leads up to Hengifoss. After parking your vehicle at Eiðar, you will be taking a 2.5 km long hike up the hill to the waterfall.
When you have covered about 1.2 km of your hike, you will be able to spot Litlanesfoss waterfall – a smaller but equally beautiful wonder on the way to your destination. Take note of the fact that at this point you will be walking very close to the edge of the gorge as this waterfall is not visible from the road so, be extra careful. This 30-meter high waterfall features beautiful basalt columns.
After another 40 mins or so into the hike, you will be able to see the Hengifoss waterfall. There is a cave behind the waterfall so you can walk into it and enjoy the view from a different angle. It will take another half a kilometer of travel to reach the base though. This last part of the hike is the most difficult of it all so be watchful of your steps.
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The Stripped Beauty Explained
There were almost 4 steps involved in the evolution of the beautiful fiery red between the glaring black strips of the Hengifoss waterfall. The first one is when the volcanic ash and basaltic lava started to deposit. The basalt and the mineral-rich ash hardened and became the step of the process. The damp climate of the tertiary period formed clay compounds from this soil as the third step. The final step included overflowing lava over the soil which oxidized the soil and gave it a reddish shade. All this resulted in the red-colored thing layers of clay trapped between thick black layers of basalt.
Best Time to Visit
East Iceland has very rambunctious weather that takes almost no time to change from clear and sunny to cloudy and rainy. Summer is by far the best time to get to this gorgeous waterfall for many reasons. Firstly, there are more chances of weather being decent and mild for a longer time and the hiking trail is easy to cover. Moreover, you will be able to see the greenery of East Iceland as well as the red and black strips of the waterfall – whole package. Although the summer season brings a huge crowd of visitors so parking spots near the trailhead may be full. Set out as early as possible in the day to find a good parking spot.
The hike to Hengifoss waterfall is a popular concept for winter tourists as well but you need to be extra careful as the trail is slippery and covered in snow. But the scenery that you will find on the way and the destination will be worth the effort. Consider bringing a tour guide along for both summer and winter trips.