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Published: December 3rd 2008
Up bright and early to pay a morning visit to Dettifoss in Jökulsárgljúfur National Park, Europe’s most powerful waterfall with an estimated 110,000 gallons of water passing over the falls every second which tumbles down the huge gorge of the Jokulsa-a-Fjollum river, the longest in Iceland.
If I wasn't awake before, the spray was certainly enough to wake me up if not drown me!
We first visited the slightly smaller waterfall of Selfoss before continuing the walk up to have a picnic lunch by Dettifoss.
Dettifoss is 144 feet (44 m) high and 330 feet (100 m) wide. In my personal opinion I actually found Sellfoss far prettier, although admittedly less impressive. Being near drowned every time you attempt to get anywhere near the actual falls is slightly offputting although the force is undeniably impressive!
Another thing I liked about Dettifoss is that there were actually flowers nearby! As crazy as it sounds in a country that's famed for its natural beauty, the landscape was quite barren and stark and we saw very few flowers and even less trees the whole time we were there. In Iceland there is a joke: What do you do if you
get lost in a forest in Iceland? Answer: Stand-up!
As our guide continually joked, Iceland may not produce any forestry graduates although they do export doctors (apparently a huge number of Icelandic doctors go abroad due to the small number of available jobs within Iceland.)
Below Dettifoss is a deep canyon, Jokulsargljufur, which was gouged out by a series of catastrophic floods, the last of which happened about 2,500 years ago. Dettifoss is the southernmost part of the National Park Jokulsargljufur and the canyon below is apparently a miniature replica of the Grand Canyon.
The musical composition 'Dettifoss' (Op.57) by Jón Leifs is inspired by this waterfall. I can't imagine listening to the deafening roar of the most powerful waterfall in the world is particularly great music although I shall reserve judgement until I've actually heard the music!
Made a random stop at a village whose name I didn't catch (and certainly would be unable to spell even if I had!) for photos of the traditional church and an even more fun cafe in a turf hut - surprisingly not all that cold!
Strange how every tiny village we pass seem to be identical -
the majority would be the perfect setting for a horror film once the mist rolls in!
Then a long walk through the lava flow - aparently a wrong turn here and you would be walking all day!!
Gorgeous views though to the horizons with distant volcanoes and very pretty different colour lava rocks.Slightly unbelievable how huge the lava flow was. Slightly scary to know that the majority of volcanoes in Iceland are still active!
Then on to visit boiling mud pools or ‘solfataras’, where the earth’s crust ripples - very cool! We went to Námaskjað, one of the biggest solfatara fields of Iceland to see the hot springs and simmering mud pots.
In the 18th century sulphur was mined here and exported to Denmark to be made into gunpowder for the war against Sweden. The real surprise is that anyone could actually work there with the horrendous smell.
A few people beat a hasty retreat back to the bus to avoid the fumes. Certainly not the most pleasant place on earth but very beautiful none the less.
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