Vatnajökull National Park / Jökulsárgljúfur / Hólmatungur, Northeast Region, Iceland

Rating: 2.5     Difficulty: 2.5
Hólmafossar in context with the Jökulsá á Fjöllum
Holmafossar (Hólmafossar or I've also seen it spelled Hólmárfossar) was a fairly high-volume cascading waterfall that flowed on a tributary to the Jökulsá á Fjöllum. This cascade had enough flow to weave through a bunch of foliage, and it wasn't easy to get a comprehensive view of the falls (only partial ones) given the fact that the trail was on the same side as the falls itself along with the obstructing foliage. There were also lots of wildflowers adding color to the scene when I visited on an otherwise cold, dreary, rainy day.

Generally, I think of this as a pretty obscure waterfall that probably would get attention only to those people who bother to explore other parts of the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon outside of Dettifoss. It felt more like an incidental attraction on a much larger trek along the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river from Dettifoss to Ásbyrgi about 34km to the north. Actually, that longer trek is part of an annual marathon route called Jökulsárlaup.

I managed to walk to this waterfall as part of a much shorter out-and-back hike from the Hólmatungur car park (see directions below). It started by briefly descending towards Katlar before turning left at a junction and following the river downstream for about 1.3km to the falls (2.6km round trip). On the wet day that I visited, the rain had let up, but there was enough wet low-lying foliage that protruded onto the trail to essentially wet my hiking pants.

Once I was at the falls, there were some informal scrambling paths to get me some side views of the falls. I felt like I could never get a comprehensive view of the falls (except for the one you see at the top of this page), which made photographing it a challenge. There were, however, plenty of wildflowers to add color to the scene.

The main trail also crossed above the falls to the other side where a more obvious path descended alongside the other side of the falls affording me a different angled perspective of the falls. Again, the views on this side didn't improve much more than the other side either. I'm betting if there was somehow a way to get across the river (not sure if there was a trail on that side or not), then perhaps the best view of this falls could be had from there.

Directions: The turnoff for the Hólmatungur car park is about 6km north along the route Route 862 of the Dettifoss turnoff for its west bank. Once at the turnoff for Hólmatungur, continue another 1km to the car park.

See the Dettifoss page for directions on how to get here from the Ring Road.

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Looking at Hólmafossar from its north side
Wildflowers blooming besides Hólmafossar on its south side
The same day we visited Hólmafossar, we also visited the geothermal features at Námaskarð, which included boiling mud pools like this one
Which way to go?Which way to go?

Choice of Holmarfossar or KatlarChoice of Holmarfossar or Katlar

I had to scramble to get this view of HolmafossarI had to scramble to get this view of the falls

Looking at the Holmafossar from the other side of its streamLooking at the falls from the other side of its stream

Closer look at the falls from the other side of the streamCloser look at the falls from the other side of the stream

Looking down over the top of the cascade from the bridgeLooking down over the top of the cascade from the bridge

Walking back along the trail with some tall grass wetting my pants as I brushed against themWalking back along the trail with some tall grass wetting my pants as I brushed against them

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

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