Natural Wonders
6 September 2017

Svartifoss waterfall – the black columnar basalt beauty

In Skaftafell, which is part of Vatnajökull national park, you´ll find a very pretty waterfall called Svartifoss (Black waterfall). Its name comes from the black basalt columns that surround it very beautifully, and when you see Svartifoss, you´ll understand the name. It’s not as tall as some as the other waterfalls you´ll see in Iceland, only 12-20 meters high, and you´ll need to hike a bit to see it. But it’s worth it! The basalt columns are very cool and their shape has inspired Icelandic architects, most notably in buildings like Hallgrímskirkja church. The water that comes pouring over the cliff is meltwater from Svínafellsjökull glacier.

Skaftafell’s Visitor Centre

If you arrive in Skaftafell from the west, you´ll have driven over flat and windy sands. So, Skaftafell is literally like an oasis in a desert, with lovely greenery, birds and a wonderful atmosphere. Your first stop there will probably be the Visitor Centre, open all year, where you can take a break and get information about the area. You´ll have no problem finding information about how to get to Svartifoss at the Centre. You´ll also see a few tour operators there that take people up to see the glacier.

Getting to Svartifoss waterfall

The shorter hike to Svartifoss is 1.5 kilometers and takes around 40 minutes, so you should expect a 90-minute hike both ways with a few minutes to take pictures and catch your breath. Most people think it’s an easy hike since it’s not too steep, but it gets a little bit more difficult as you get closer to the waterfall. You can take a longer route from the Visitor Centre to the waterfall, around 3.4 kilometers. It’s steeper than the shorter one but you´ll see another waterfall, Hundafoss (Dog’s waterfall), on the way.