Vatnajokull National Park (formerly Jokulsargljufur National Park), Northeast Region (Norðurland eystra), Iceland

About Holmafossar

Hiking Distance: 2.6km round trip
Suggested Time: 45-75 minutes

Date first visited: 2007-06-28
Date last visited: 2007-06-28

Waterfall Latitude: 65.89348
Waterfall Longitude: -16.4675

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

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.

Holmatungur_084_06282007 - Hólmafossar and the Jökulsá á Fjöllum
Hólmafossar and the Jökulsá á Fjöllum

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).

Holmatungur_110_06282007 - The path to Hólmafossar involved going through some low-lying foliage
The path to Hólmafossar involved going through some low-lying foliage

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.

Holmatungur_093_06282007 - Looking towards Hólmafossar from the other side of its stream
Looking towards Hólmafossar from the other side of its stream

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.


Holmafossar resides in the Northeast Region near Akureyri, Iceland. It is administered by the municipality of Norðurþing. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting their website.

Holmatungur_004_06282007 - Which way to go?
Holmatungur_005_06282007 - Choice of Holmarfossar or Katlar
Holmatungur_070_06282007 - Starting to get my first glimpses at Holmafossar
Holmatungur_071_06282007 - I had to scramble to get this view of Holmafossar
Holmatungur_076_06282007 - Continuing to descend alongside Holmafossar
Holmatungur_077_06282007 - This was probably the most contextual look at Holmafossar's south side that I was able to get
Holmatungur_096_06282007 - Closer look at the falls from the other side of the stream
Holmatungur_098_06282007 - Long exposure look at Holmafossar from its north side
Holmatungur_103_06282007 - Looking down across Holmafossar from the north side towards the Jökulsá á Fjöllum down below
Holmatungur_109_06282007 - Looking down over the top of the cascade from the bridge
Holmatungur_123_06292007 - On a good weather day, this was what the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River looked like as we peered in the direction of Hólmafossar

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.

For geographical context, Reykjalið was about 51km (45 minutes drive) northeast of the west bank car park for Dettifoss, 101km (under 90 minutes drive) east of Akureyri and 479km (under 6 hours drive) northeast of Reykjavík.

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Tagged with: holmatungur, jokulsa a fjollum, vatnsjokull, jokulsargljufur, northeast region, iceland, nordurland eystra, waterfall, akureyri, myvatn, reykjahlid, grand canyon, dettifoss

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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning 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.
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