Godafoss

Skjálfandafljót / Mývatn, Northeast Region, Iceland

Rating: 3.5     Difficulty: 1
Goðafoss
Godafoss (more accurately Goðafoss; pronounced "GO-thuh-foss") was one of the more famous waterfalls we encountered while driving the Ring Road through the Mývatn District of Iceland's Northeast Region. It was a wide 12m tall waterfall on the Skjálfandafljót River that was segmented into two main components while possessing an arcing semi-horseshoe shape, which we noticed when we viewed it from its top. Although both times we've visited this waterfall were under some dreary overcast (and rainy) conditions, we could still see the color in the river, which I'm sure would be amplified when the sun would come out.

We were able to experience this waterfall from both sides of its banks. The east bank seemed to provide a great deal of flexibility in terms of how we were able to view the falls. The west side seemed to yield fewer views, but there was less walking involved to see the falls. We thought the east side was better yet strangely enough, since most of the tourist traffic seemed to be on the opposite side of the river (the west side), Julie and I plus a photographer couple pretty much had the whole east side to ourselves!

From a small car park near a restroom area on the east bank, we were able to hike upstream a short distance until we had a choice of going down to the river level to view the falls from its base or to go up to a bluff where we could see the falls from its top (as pictured at the top of this page). Since the walks were short, we were able to do them both. When we walked in the downstream direction closer to the Ring Road, we noticed there was a footbridge (providing convenient access to the west bank) as well as a more frontal view of Geitafoss, which was a smaller waterfall further downstream of Godafoss.

On the west bank, there was a much larger car park, and it seemed most of the tour bus traffic was there probably for this reason. We took a much shorter walk right up to the brink of the falls, but we really couldn't do a whole lot to improve the views from this side. We also didn't want to get too close to the edge of the cliffs and risk falling into the icy cold and turbulent Skjálfandafljót River.

From what I understand, this curling horseshoe-shaped waterfall had a fairly key role in Icelandic history. Apparently back in the year 1000, the lawspeaker at the time Þorgeirr Ljósvetningagoði had the unenviable task of choosing the official religion of Iceland. Perhaps under the pressure of Christianity's convert or die methods, Þorgeirr chucked his icons of Norse deities into the falls (which, by the way, is translated to mean "waterfall of the gods") but secretly maintained allegiance to the Norse deities.

Given that the falls was very close to the Ring Road, it didn't surprise us that it was a very popular spot both with self-drivers and tours. But even still, we didn't feel like the tourist crush was overwhelming. And since the waterfall was so easy to visit, there were opportunities to re-visit this place just in case the weather might improve (though it didn't for us).

Directions: This waterfall is well-signed and right off the Ring Road between Akureyri and Mývatn (about 50km east of Akureyri and 49km west of Reykjalið).

The turnoff for the west bank car park is about 1.1km on the Ring Road east of the turnoff for Route 842. The turnoff for the east bank area is about 300m further east of the west bank turnoff just on the other side of the bridge.

So given how close it was to drive (or walk) from one bank to the other, there really is no reason why you shouldn't visit both sides to get the full experience.




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PHOTO JOURNAL
Approaching Goðafoss from the level of the river on its east bank.  Note the person on the topright providing some sense of scale
Julie precariously standing atop a bluff with a more top down view of Goðafoss from its east bank revealing its curved semi-horseshoe-shaped characteristic
Goðafoss resides in the Mývatn District, which is centered about the scenic lake Mývatn (Midge Lake)
Near Mývatn is the geothermal Krafla area, where we found this beautiful crater lake called Stora Viti
A house by the east bank car park with a water closet (WC)A house by the east bank car park with a water closer (WC)

Looking across the brink of Geitafoss as we made our way towards Goðafoss' east bankLooking across the brink of Geitafoss as we made our way towards Goðafoss' east bank

Approaching Goðafoss with some people standing on atop each bank of the river giving us ideas on where we ought to check out the fallsApproaching Goðafoss with some people standing on atop each bank of the river giving us ideas on where we ought to check out the falls

Julie near the bottom of the east bank of GoðafossJulie near the bottom of the east bank of the falls

Looking right at Geitafoss with part of Goðafoss seen further upstream on the SkjálfandafljótLooking right at Geitafoss with part of Goðafoss seen further upstream on the Skjálfandafljót

Julie walking towards the brink of Goðafoss from the west bankJulie walking towards the brink of the falls from the west bank

Julie contemplates Goðafoss from the west bankJulie contemplates the falls from the west bank

View of Goðafoss from its brink at its west bank getting us closer to the falls than from the east sideView of Goðafoss from its brink at its west bank getting us closer to the falls than from the east side


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS

Sweep of the falls as seen from its western bank


Focused on the scene at the base of the falls along its east bank


Looking down at the impressive falls from the east bank


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MAP OF THE FALLS

View Larger Map




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TRIP REPORTS
For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES



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