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Goðafoss, Iceland

Wednesday, June 7, 2023 - 9:45am by Lolo
32 miles and 0.75 hours from our last stop


Beautiful GodafossBeautiful GodafossOur next stop along the Ring Road was Goðafoss, considered one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls. It is located in northern Iceland just off the Ring Road at the junction with the Sprengisandur highland road, making it also one of the most accessible.

There are two parking lots - one of the west side of the falls and one on the east, with a pedestrian bridge connecting the two. We parked on the west and hiked to the top and then went back, crossed over the pedestrian bridge to he east and hiked along that shore. Each side had a different perspective of the falls.

Kayaker takes the plungeKayaker takes the plungeThe waterfalls we had seen so far were one narrow cascade of water, but this one was much wider (98 feet) with multiple cascades.

It is fed by the river Skjálfandafljót, the 4th largest river in Iceland, which runs in a 7000-year-old lava field from the Trölladyngja volcano.

The waterfall is absolutely stunning, and of course when we arrived, there was a beautiful rainbow across its spray.

We had come to expect rainbows in the spray of Iceland’s waterfalls, but this time we were treated to something else much more surprising - kayayers, plunging over the edge, disappearing in the spray, and then popping right side up at the base of the falls.

So much fun, let's try againSo much fun, let's try againWow! These guys were crazy! We could have watched and photographed them for hours.

Besides being beautiful and exciting for kayakers, this waterfall plays a very important role in how Iceland became a Christian nation.

But for that, we have to go back in time to the year 1000 AD.

An old Icelandic saga tells the tale of the waterfall's name through a Viking leader named Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði.

Another takes the plungeAnother takes the plungeFor the Icelandic people, sagas are not only the history of their medieval and Viking past, but entertaining stories passed from generation to generation. They are an extremely important part of their culture.

Many of the sagas date from Iceland’s pagan, pre-Christian past, and that is exactly where the story of Goðafoss comes in.

In the year 1000, Iceland was still a pagan land when a local chieftain, named Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, was given the difficult task of making the crucial decision as to whether Iceland should remain pagan or convert to Christianity, as King Olaf of Norway was pressuring them to do.

As the story goes, Þorgeir withdrew to lay under a fur blanket for two nights before emerging with his decision to convert to Christianity. I think all political decisions should be made this way.

Celebration or relief?Celebration or relief?He then proceeded to throw all his statues of the Pagan gods into the waterfall. Thus Christianity became the official religion in Iceland in the year 1000 without bloodshed.

That is why this waterfall is named Godafoss, which means the “Waterfall of the Gods.”

Another theory is that it is called Godafoss because its beauty is godlike. That works for me.

Goðafoss location map in "high definition"

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