Haifoss

Thjorsardalur / Interior, South Region (Suðurland), Iceland

About Haifoss


Hiking Distance: 1-2km round trip
Suggested Time: 30-60 minutes

Date first visited: 2007-07-08
Date last visited: 2007-07-08

Waterfall Latitude: 64.20793
Waterfall Longitude: -19.6881

Haifoss (more accurately Háifoss; I think it’s pronounced “HAU-i-foss”) was once said to be the second tallest waterfall in Iceland at 122m tall.

At least it was called the second highest waterfall when we made our visit in July 2007.

Haifoss_012_07082007 - Háifoss and bold rainbow with Granni
Háifoss and bold rainbow with Granni

But encyclopedic facts aside, what really made this waterfall stand out was that it was also accompanied by a similar waterfall called Granni (the Neighbor) in an adjacent gorge.

Both waterfalls were on segments of the Fossá River, which was a tributary of the larger Þjórsá River.

While the Þjórsá River cut right through the wide and most desolate Þjórsadalur Valley, the Fossá cut a deep chasm making it unwise for us to try to access the shadowy base.

And because the views of the falls were from the top of a deep chasm (as you can see in the photo above), we had to be careful not to get too close to the edges of the unstable cliffs.

A Very Satisfying Experience

Haifoss_032_07082007 - Here's a photo of just Háifoss and rainbow with some kind of building to the topright providing some sense of scale
Here’s a photo of just Háifoss and rainbow with some kind of building to the topright providing some sense of scale

In any case, it seemed like we got lucky with the timing of our visit.

Not only did we see both waterfalls at their full flow, but the sun’s position was perfect as it yielded bright quarter-arcing rainbows within the mist of the main falls.

Then, to top it all off, the falls was set amidst the hauntingly beautiful yet desolate landscape of the Icelandic Highlands.

Add it all up, this was one of our waterfalling highlights of our 2007 trip to Iceland.

Haifoss_061_07082007 - Julie sitting down (to avoid falling over the cliff) admiring the surreal scene of Háifoss and Granni with a rainbow
Julie sitting down (to avoid falling over the cliff) admiring the surreal scene of Háifoss and Granni with a rainbow

Julie and I still think about this place whenever we reminisce about this trip.

More difficult drive than hike

Walking to this waterfall from the car park (see directions below) was pretty easy.

We took an easy-to-follow trail that went gently downhill until we got the best views of both Haifoss and Granni.

We were at the falls between 10:30am and 11:30am in the early July on a sunny day, and that was when we saw the awesome rainbows making this one of the most surreal visual experiences we’d ever had on a waterfalling excursion.

Haifoss_002_07082007 - Julie on the short trail leading to the overlook of Haifoss
Julie on the short trail leading to the overlook of Haifoss

We spent around an hour away from the car, but I have to believe that most of that time was spent taking photographs and just chilling out here.

Perhaps the greater drama in accessing the falls was more about the drive to get there than the physical exertion required.

The road we took to get here was a pretty bumpy one, and I would imagine high clearance vehicles would be necessary to get here.

But then again, we did see some low clearance 2wd vehicles at the car park, which would suggest it would be possible for such vehicles to make it, too.

Haifoss_078_07082007 - Looking back at the fairy rough unpaved road that ascended from Þjórsadalur and headed towards Háifoss
Looking back at the fairy rough unpaved road that ascended from Þjórsadalur and headed towards Háifoss

If that’s the case, driving carefully and slowly would have to be done or else risk damage to the undercarriage of the car, damage to the transmission, or even suffer flat tires from the rocks on the road.

Háifoss Meaning

As for the meaning of the waterfall’s name, I looked up my Icelandic dictionary and saw that “hár” means high or tall.

If that’s the case, then I guess its name could’ve been surmised given that the spelling of the name of the falls would likely induce a non-Icelandic speaker to think it’s pronounced “high” anyways.

Finally, I had read that visitors to the re-created historical farm at Stöng may wish to undertake a long 5- to 6-hour trek to get to the falls as well as experience the lush rift area at Gjáin.

Haifoss_037_07082007 - This rock cairn marked the endpoint of the short hike to the overlook of Haifoss, but I'd imagine we could have fully immersed ourselves in the desolate highlands even more with a longer hike
This rock cairn marked the endpoint of the short hike to the overlook of Haifoss, but I’d imagine we could have fully immersed ourselves in the desolate highlands even more with a longer hike

That may be an option if you truly want to immerse yourself in the unforgiving highlands.

Authorities

Haifoss resides in the South Region near Selfoss, Iceland. It is administered by the municipality of Rangárþing ytra. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting their website.

Road_26_010_07082007 - Herd of Icelandic horses we saw while driving Route 26 through Þjórsadalur
Haifoss_073_07082007 - Looking back at the unsealed access road to Haifoss once we left the main roads through Þjórsadalur
Haifoss_079_07082007 - After the first couple of forks, the road climbed past that farm on the lower right of this photo. Notice how flat and desolate Þjórsadalur is.
Haifoss_081_07082007 - Another look at the barren expanse of the Þjórsadalur Valley
Haifoss_008_07082007 - Haifoss on the left and Granni on the right
Haifoss_035_07082007 - The psychedelic landscape downstream from the falls
Haifoss_007_07082007 - Just Háifoss and rainbow
Haifoss_072_07082007 - Focused on Granni from a closer position
Haifoss_052_07082007 - Last look at Haifoss before we headed back to the car park

join-booking-970x240-1.jpg


To get to the unpaved access road to Haifoss, we first had to take one of two main approaches through Þjórsadalur.

The approach we took involved leaving the Ring Road at Route 26 (about 7km west of Hella or 20km west of Hvolsvöllur).

From the junction, we drove about 62km through Þjórsadalur to its junction with Route 32.

Road_26_011_07082007 - The roads through Þjórsadalur eventually led us past the Trollkonufoss ('Troll Wife Falls')
The roads through Þjórsadalur eventually led us past the Trollkonufoss (‘Troll Wife Falls’)

Turning left onto Route 32, we drove about 8km to an unsealed access route (I think it’s signposted for the falls) on the right.

Had we been coming from Selfoss, we could’ve taken the Ring Road to 14km to Route 30, then follow Route 30 for a little over 18km to its junction with Route 32 on the right.

Then, follow Route 32 through Þjórsadalur for 43km to the signed turnoff for the unpaved access road to Haifoss on the left.

Beyond Þjórsadalur

Once we were on the unpaved access road (Stangarvegur), we took it for about 500m before turning right onto a rougher unpaved access road.

Haifoss_075_07082007 - Looking back towards Þjórsadalur as the Stangarvegur ascended towards Háifoss
Looking back towards Þjórsadalur as the Stangarvegur ascended towards Háifoss

We followed this access road for another 6.5km (keeping left at the major fork to stay on this road).

We ultimately reached the final turnoff on our left, which went the last 800m to the car park for the falls.

Overall, this stretch of unpaved driving took us less than 30 minutes in each direction in a high clearance SUV.

Expect to take longer if you’re trying with a low clearance 2wd passenger vehicle.

For context, Reykjavik was 52km (45 minutes drive) west of Selfoss and 88km (over an hour drive) west of Hella.

Sweep of the falls along with its neighboring waterfall and the psychedelic landscape downstream

Tagged with: thjorsardalur, interior, highlands, thjorsa, hrauneyjar, hvolsvollur, selfoss, south region, sudurland, southern iceland, iceland, waterfall, granni, thjorsadalur



Visitor Comments:

Best waterfall in Iceland, hands down July 9, 2018 9:55 pm by Alejandro Colorado - We went because we were told it was impressive and not as crowded as the waterfalls over the South Coast. We made the right call by going there. Hot Damn, the waterfall is magnificent to look at and you can feel the sheer power of it, even if the point were you got to see… ...Read More
Amazing views! (Haifoss) September 5, 2015 9:14 am by Liz - We visited Haifoss as well as Gjain and Stong, all easily accessible by gravel roads, we did not have a high clearance 4x4 but we had absolutely no problem accessing the parking lots. We just drove slow- not a very long drive at all, maybe 10 minutes max. Beautiful area with wonderful views, if you're… ...Read More
Haifoss June 24, 2009 2:37 pm by _Anonymous11 - WOW!!!! The drive there was bumpy and very long, but WOW!!! This is all you can say when you walk down the small trail to the falls and hear the sheer power of the water cascading over the edge. Two falls within a few meters of each other with the larger one falling straight on… ...Read More

Share your thoughts about what you've read on this page

You must be logged in to submit content. Refresh this page after you have logged in.

Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

No users have submitted a write-up/review of this waterfall


Have you been to a waterfall? Submit a write-up/review and share your experiences or impressions

Review A Waterfall

Nearest Waterfalls

Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.