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Svartifoss-the Black Waterfall

The Black Waterfall in South Iceland

While wandering in South Iceland, you can go to Skaftafell National Park to see the Svartifoss waterfall. A 20m (80ft) tall waterfall fed by the ice-cold water from the Svinafellsjokull glacier.

The name of the waterfall translates to ‘Black waterfall’ given by the colour of the basalt columns that stand tall and form the cliff.

Svartifoss waterfall suring summer.

Icelanders say that the natural architecture given by the basalt columns from this waterfall inspired the architect Guðjón Samúelsson who designed Iceland’s National Theatre and the Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavik.

The basalt columns formed from a lava flow which cooled slowly and formed the hexagonal shape.

Svartifoss waterfall flowing on big basalt walls.

To get to the Svartifoss waterfall, you have to hike from the Visitor Centre in Skaftafell where you can also find information about the waterfall and the National Park. The hike will take about 45 minutes one way, about 1.6 km to the waterfall.

Along the trail to the waterfall, you will find three small waterfalls – Þjofafoss, Hundafoss, and Magnusarfoss. Near the Svartifoss waterfall, there is a small bridge across the river. The hike to the waterfall is free but you will need to pay for parking at Skaftafell National Park.

Svartifoss waterfall during autumn.
Photo by (IG) @stamper_vagabond

Once you get to the waterfall, you can go as close as it is safe to take pictures of the waterfall without crossing the boundaries set up by the park.

On the way back if you choose to cross the bridge by Svartifoss, along the trail you will find Selið turf houses which are built in southern style. The locals say that those are the few turf houses that remain in South Iceland.

You can visit the Svartifoss waterfall while on a self-drive tour or a private tour in South Iceland.

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