The extraordinary Kolufossar waterfalls in Kolugljúfur Canyon in North-Iceland
I recently travelled to the north of Iceland. I had seen a travel program on TV about Kolugljúfur canyon in Víðidalur valley and really wanted to see it with my own eyes. So off we went up north :)
We were travelling in the evening and needed a place to stay for the night. I had heard good things about Dæli, which is part of the Icelandic Farm Holidays Association.
Top photo: By Kolufossar waterfalls in the middle of the night
The summer cottage at Dæli
So I phoned ahead and I was in luck, they had a summer cottage available for the night.
When we arrived at Dæli we looked for the summer cottage. The lovely cottage is called Eyrin, 26 m2, with sleeping accommodation for 7 people, and there were only 2 of us, so we had plenty of space and thoroughly enjoyed our stay.
The summer cottage at Dæli
After having left our luggage in the summer cottage we decided on driving to Kolugljúfur canyon, which was only a couple of km away from Dæli. It was after midnight, but in June in Iceland the nights are bright, so that didn't stop us.
I love being outside in nature in the middle of a bright Icelandic summer night :)
Kolugljúfur is amazing, it took my breath away immediately as I walked to the bridge crossing the river. I hadn't expected anything like this.
The canyon is 40-50 metres deep and a little over 1 km long.
Visiting Kolufossar in 2021
The canyon cannot be seen from the road, but there is a parking lot right by the main road and the bridge is just a few steps away from the parking lot.
From there is a fantastic view of the upper waterfall, Kolufossar waterfalls, and the Kolugljúfur canyon with its many waterfalls.
2 observation platforms have now been put up by the canyon.
Legend has it that a giantess lived in the canyon. Her name was Kola and the canyon is named after her, Kolugljúfur canyon. One can even find evidence from the time Kola lived in the canyon.
The folklore, which I found in Þjóðsögur Jóns Árnasonar - the Collection of Folklore by Jón Árnason, goes like this:
"Kolugil is the name of a farm in Víðidalur valley east of Víðidalsá river. There lived a giantess, Kola was her name, and the farm was named after her.
Kolufossar waterfalls in Kolugljúfur canyon - photos taken in the middle of a bright summer night
Below the farm is a dark and deep canyon by Víðidalsá river and a tall waterfall in the river; it is so tall that no salmon can pass it. Thus there is no fishing in the river above the waterfall, but there is fishing in the pool beneath the waterfall.
The canyon is not very wide, but it is impossible for most men to jump over it.
Photo taken on the same spot in 2021
West of Víðidalsá river on the west side of the canyon you will find Kolurúm (the Bed of Kola); a ledge in the west canyon a little bit lower than the edge of the canyon and on the front end of the ledge on both sides you will find high rock scars.
Between the scars is a depression with potholes.
Potholes by the canyon
Those rock scars are believed to be the bedside on Kola's bed, but where the ledge is at the lowest Kola would crawl out of bed in the morning when she woke up, and into the pool beneath the waterfall where she caught salmon and ate.
Close to Kolurúm bed, you will find a big hole in the rock on the west side; this is Koluketill or the Cauldron of Kola. In it, she is supposed to have boiled the salmon, which she caught in the pool."
(Translated into English from Þjóðsögur Jóns Árnasonar RHR)
We walked down the Kolufossar waterfalls, where we stood right next to the beautiful waterfall.
Here is a video from my second visit to Kolufossar in 2021
There is also a beautiful walk under the bridge and into the canyon, where one can see the potholes.
Walking further on I found another waterfall cascading into the canyon and some smaller waterfalls - the collective name for these waterfalls is Kolufossar.
Kolufossar waterfalls in Kolugljúfur
I was so in awe watching these amazing waterfalls and the ruggedly beautiful canyon, in the middle of the bright night, that I took a couple of videos to be able to cherish this moment better.
The owner of the family-run Dæli, the lovely lady Sigrún, had told us about another waterfall in Víðidalur valley.
Fitjá runs from Víðidálsá river - it is a smaller river, where one can see a large salmon ladder in a waterfall called Kerfoss, which was made there in 1940.
It is well worth visiting Kerfoss while visiting Víðidalur valley. It cannot be seen from the road so one has to look for it, but it is only a very short drive and a 2 minutes hike to the waterfall.
A salmon ladder in the river
We visited both these waterfalls on this bright summer night and returned to the summer cottage at Dæli. I love the bright nights here as I can stay up as long as I want while travelling and visit the sights in the middle of the night - most of the time I am the only one there.
We had a lovely stay at Dæli, I am so glad I found this place. The owners are very friendly people, who have run the travel services at Dæli since 1988. There are various types of accommodation at Dæli, both sleeping-bag accommodation in huts and more luxury accommodation.
The reception at Dæli
We chose the summer cottage, as we wanted to be by ourselves, and the summer cottage is ever so lovely. Well, all of Dæli's accommodation is lovely and tastefully furnished.
There is a restaurant, café and a bar at Dæli, called Kaffi Sveitó or the Provincial Café, where up to 100 people can dine. We had breakfast there before we continued on our journey north. The surroundings are excellent, I was actually surprised at what a beautiful place Dæli and Kolugljúfur are - and that I hadn't visited it before.
I have driven by Víðidalur on my way north for many years, without knowing about this lovely place. Now I will make sure to stay there again.
It is very popular for groups to stay at Dæli and family reunions are frequently held here as the facilities are excellent. You can even hire a party tent at Dæli.
We Icelanders are big on family reunions when our extended family members and relatives gather together from all over the country to spend a weekend together as I showed you in my travel-blog Ingjaldssandur in the Westfjords of Iceland - my Grandmother's Birthplace.
Víðidalur is opposite Vatnsnes peninsula, with its many beautiful sights, including the amazing rock formation Hvítserkur and Borgarvirki fortress which you can read about in my travel-blogs. Vatnsnes is also the location of many seals.
I visited Vatnsnes peninsula the day after my stay at Dæli and no matter how many times I visit Vatnsnes it always fascinates me :)
Kolufossar and the shadow of the bridge
Here you can see the location of Kolugljúfur and Dæli on the map.
You can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive to this area in 2.5 hours.
Have fun in Kolugljúfur canyon and stay safe in my country!
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