Hrauneyjafoss Waterfalls Travel Guide
The Hrauneyjafoss waterfalls are a series of pristine waterfalls cascading into the Sigoldugljufur canyon in the Icelandic Highlands.
Travelers keen to witness the unmatched beauty of these waterfalls can book a 10-Hour small-group Highlands tour with Reykjavik transfers. The full-day excursion includes visiting the Hrauneyjafoss waterfalls, natural hot spring bathing, and other incredible Highland attractions.
Or, opt for a 14-hour photo tour with a professional photographer for lifelong memories of the breathtaking scenery at Hrauneyjafoss.
The Hrauneyjafoss waterfalls are sometimes called Hrauneyjafossar, Lekafossar, or Fogrufossar. Hrauneyjafossar is a young collection of waterfalls, so an official name is yet to be determined. Each name fits the waterfalls for a different reason, and Highland travelers should take advantage of the opportunity to marvel at these stunning treasures.
Location of the Hrauneyjafoss Waterfalls
The Hrauneyjafoss waterfalls are in the Sigoldugljufur canyon in the Icelandic Highlands. You'll find the canyon and waterfalls just north of the Fjallabak nature reserve.
If you're using Google maps, look for the Sigoldugljufur canyon, and the Hrauneyjafoss waterfalls are there. Searching for Hrauneyjafoss will take you to an incorrect location, further west.
Further north along the Sigoldugljufur canyon is Sigoldufoss waterfall. To add to the confusion, people sometimes describe Sigoldufoss but call it Hrauneyjafoss. However, the waterfalls are separate, each with its unique features.
Travelers could visit both waterfalls while exploring the canyon, as they're just 2.3 miles (3.8 kilometers) apart.
History of the Hrauneyjafoss Waterfalls
Although Sigoldufoss and Hrauneyjafoss are different waterfalls, they do have links. Sigoldustod, a nearby power plant, was built in the 1970s. When it was made, it triggered the formation of Hrauneyjafoss.
Overflowing water from the hydro plant's reservoir Krokslon runs into the Sigoldugljufur canyon, creating Hrauneyjafossar's awe-inspiring row of waterfalls. The water leaks through the lava cliffs and tumbles over the canyon's cliffs into the river below.
Sigoldufoss is the waterfall that powers the hydro plant to create electricity. So, without Sigoldufoss or the power plant it feeds, Hrauneyjafoss would never have existed!
Despite its unnatural origins, visitors will be astounded by the exceptional beauty of Hrauneyjafoss. The waterfalls are a feast for the eyes and a photographer's dream.
What to Expect at Hrauneyjafoss Waterfalls
As you drive across the barren landscape leading to the Hrauneyjafoss waterfalls, it's easy to be skeptical that a picturesque oasis awaits. The gravel car park for Sigoldugljufur canyon and Hrauneyjafoss waterfall doesn't give much away either!
From the car park, it's about a 0.6-mile (one-kilometer) walk along a dusty road to reach the canyon. You'll get your "wow" moment when you peer over the canyon's edge and will know why you came here.
As you look down the cliff sides, enjoy marveling at the gorgeous turquoise water flowing in the river below. The rugged canyon winds with twists and turns into the distance, and waterfalls burst through its sides, creating a picture-perfect scene.
Splashes of green adorn the canyon walls, complementing the bright water below. These colors contrast wonderfully with the white waterfalls and the surrounding brown terrain. Ensure your camera is ready for excellent shots and memories to last a lifetime.
When you look at the vistas before you, it's easy to understand why Sigoldugljufur is also called the "Valley of Tears." It looks like the canyon is crying, though these must be tears of joy!
You can stroll along the canyon's rim to capture unique perspectives of the waterfalls. Hrauneyjafossar is unlike anywhere else you've seen, so it's worth taking the time to appreciate its beauty.
Allow about 15-20 minutes for each part of your excursion. These include walking to the falls, along the rim for extra photos and views, and then walking back to the car park.
Meaning and Alternative Names of the Hrauneyjafoss Waterfalls
Hrauneyjafoss and its alternative names each have a unique yet equally fitting English translation. Hrauneyjafossar means "Lava Island Falls." Lekafossar translates to "Leaking Falls," similar to Sigoldugljufur canyon's namesake, "The Valley of Tears."
Finally, Fogrufossar means "Beautiful Falls," another perfect description for these stunning Highland waterfalls. No matter which name sticks or which you prefer, you'll be glad you added a visit to Hrauneyjafossar to your itinerary.
How to get to Hrauneyjafoss Waterfalls
The Hrauneyjafoss waterfalls are 106 miles (172 kilometers) east of Reykjavik. Although they're directly above the South Coast village of Vik on the map, you'll need to drive west to Hella and then northeast to reach the falls.
Hrauneyjafossar is a 117-mile (189-kilometer) drive from Vik and 60 miles (97 kilometers) from Hella. Drive west along the Ring Road from Vik to Hella, then turn right onto Road 271. Next, turn right onto Road 26 and continue driving for around 46 miles (74 kilometers).
Finally, turn right onto the F208, heading south until you reach the Sigoldugljufur car park. It's possible to drive east along the Ring Road from Vik, then north along the F208, and arrive at Hrauneyjafoss from the other direction. However, although the driving distance is shorter, it will likely add an extra hour to your journey because the roads are slower.
Travelers from Reykjavik can follow Route 1 southeast for about 46 miles (75 kilometers). Continue inland along road 30, then turn right onto road 32. This road joins road 26, and finally, you'll turn and head south along the F208.
Attractions Near the Hrauneyjafoss Waterfalls
Travelers visiting Hrauneyjafoss can combine their trip with a visit to Sigoldufoss waterfall further along the canyon. Top off your waterfall excursion by checking out the much-loved Haifoss waterfall, 28 miles (45.5 kilometers) west of Hrauneyjafoss.
Haifoss is another off-the-beaten-track Highlands destination you won't want to miss. This striking waterfall is the country's third-highest, tumbling 400 feet (122 meters) over a ledge in the Fossardalur valley.
Hiking enthusiasts will love exploring the trails in the Landmannalaugar area, just 14.7 miles (23.8 kilometers) north of Hrauneyjafoss. Landmannalaugar has fascinating and diverse natural scenery, from colorful rhyolite mountains to moss-covered lava fields, a green gorge, and more.
Visitors can choose from a wide range of Landmannalaugar tours, such as a 12-hour trekking and hot-spring bathing tour or a full-day buggy adventure with a soak in natural geothermal springs.