Ketubjorg

Skagi / Skagafjordur, Northwest Region (Norðurland vestra), Iceland

About Ketubjorg


Hiking Distance: almost roadside (1st waterfall); about 1km round trip (2nd waterfall)
Suggested Time: allow at least 30 minutes for each waterfall

Date first visited: 2007-06-27
Date last visited: 2021-08-15

Waterfall Latitude: 66.02749
Waterfall Longitude: -19.99806

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Ketubjorg (more accurately Ketubjörg; pronounced “KET-oo-byurg”) mesmerized us with its 120m cliff diving waterfalls going right into where Skagafjörður met the North Atlantic Ocean.

Actually, I am not sure whether this name refers to the waterfall or the cliff in Skagi supporting nesting birds.

Ketubjorg_035_06272007 - Ketubjörg and the cliffside scenery
Ketubjörg and the cliffside scenery

Nonetheless, when we first visited this place in late June 2007, we actually thought there was only one ocean-diving waterfall by the knobby cliffs that gave this area its name.

However, when we came back in August 2021, we actually learned that there was a second waterfall that was accessed from a stile and trail that was more signposted than the one we originally visited.

In any case, such ocean-feeding waterfalls reminded us a lot like a much bigger and more rugged version of say McWay Falls in California albeit with a little less color.

Since we were literally on cliffs dropping right into the ocean, we saw lots of birds flying about against the frigid winds as if they were hovering in the air both beside us as well as between us and the falls.

Ketubjorg_041_08152021 - Looking back across a different part of the Ketubjörg Cliffs towards another ocean-diving waterfall before small sea arches in the distance
Looking back across a different part of the Ketubjörg Cliffs towards another ocean-diving waterfall before small sea arches in the distance

They really added to the memorable scene as did the many wildflowers blooming on the grassy plateau, which added a little more color to the mostly blackened cliffs and dark waters under the overcast skies.

Experiencing the Signed Part of Ketubjörg

I’ll first do the description from the signed and seemingly more sanctioned way to experience of Ketubjörg and what I’m calling the second waterfall.

From the signed clearing next to a gate and stile (see directions below), we climbed over the stile and then took an obvious trail that led to an unsigned junction about 100m away.

We had an option of which way to go, but I first started by going left, which ultimately led me nearly 200m to a fenced off farm field.

Ketubjorg_027_08152021 - This was the view of the 'second' Ketubjörg Waterfall after following the farm fencing to the cliff edge
This was the view of the ‘second’ Ketubjörg Waterfall after following the farm fencing to the cliff edge

Then, I followed the fencing towards the cliffs where I managed to get my first glimpse of the second of the Ketubjörg Waterfalls.

After having my fill of this view of the falls, I then backtracked to the trail junction and then kept going for another 150m or so before veering to the left towards a bluff.

At that precarious bluff, I then got a view back towards the same waterfall though it was fronted by what appeared to have been a collapsed cliff (further underscoring why we shouldn’t stand too close to the edge).

Also from this vantage point, I managed to look further in the distance beyond the waterfall towards a sea arch that looked more obviously like a sea arch than it did at the other viewpoint.

Ketubjorg_telephoto_025_08152021 - Looking in the distance towards the sea cliffs further north of the 'second' Ketubjörg Waterfall where the sea arch was more obvious from this vantage point looking towards the north across the falls
Looking in the distance towards the sea cliffs further north of the ‘second’ Ketubjörg Waterfall where the sea arch was more obvious from this vantage point looking towards the north across the falls

The reason why was because of the contrast of the lighter waters against the darkness of the overhang.

Once we had our fill of this spot, we had the option of continuing the hike another 1.2km back towards the Route 745 closer to the Ketubjörg Cliffs, but we instead opted to backtrack to the car and drive towards where the trail was ultimately going.

Experiencing the Original Ketubjörg Waterfall

Of course by calling it the “first” or “original” Ketubjörg, I’m really reflecting my own bias from my own experiences as this was the first waterfall that I saw here before I became aware of the second one.

In fact, back when we first visited this place in late June 2007, there was actually a sign pointing towards the stile that we were about to climb over.

Ketubjorg_062_06272007 - Julie checking out the view of Ketubjörg while flanked by pink wildflowers during our first visit back in late June 2007
Julie checking out the view of Ketubjörg while flanked by pink wildflowers during our first visit back in late June 2007

But in August 2021, I noticed that the sign was not there anymore, and the clearing to park the car was not as obvious either though the stile still remained (see directions below).

After climbing over this stile, we then briefly went up a hillside towards a bluff with an elevated view down at the impressive “first” Ketubjörg Waterfall.

This one dropped roughly 120m with some islands in the distance as well as some colorful flowers in the grassy area that we viewed the falls from, which further added to the scenic allure.

Now I suspect the reason why the landowner or authorities might have taken the sign down for this view of what I thought was the more impressive of the two waterfalls was because the land appeared to be sinking.

Ketubjorg_086_08152021 - Context of the sinking cliffs adjacent to the unpaved 745 Road with the 'first' Ketubjörg Waterfall plunging in the distance
Context of the sinking cliffs adjacent to the unpaved 745 Road with the ‘first’ Ketubjörg Waterfall plunging in the distance

Indeed, we saw that there were noticeable depressions where it seemed like the grassy lookout we were on was about to start its slide into the ocean.

So we definitely kept that in our minds as we checked this spot out, and who knows how much longer will this view last before it, too, joins the Skagafjörður.

At least the nice thing about this waterfall was that the falls was still viewable even set back from the sinking part of the cliffs.

On our first visit in 2007, we spent about 45 minutes away from the car, but on our second visit, we spent about an hour to experience both waterfalls.

Authorities

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

Ketubjorg_012_08152021 - Mom going over a stile by the now-signed part of Ketubjörg during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_013_08152021 - Looking back across the stile towards the car park for the latest sanctioned trailhead for Ketubjörg during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_014_08152021 - Mom following a trail leading us closer to the Ketubjörg Cliffs during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_018_08152021 - Closeup look at some pink wilflowers blooming in the fields near the Ketubjörg Cliffs during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_019_08152021 - Closeup look at some yellow wildflowrs blooming in the fields near the Ketubjörg Cliffs during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_021_08152021 - While the ladies were heading in a southerly direction, I went in the opposite direction where I approached this fenced off agricultural field during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_024_08152021 - Then, after following the agricultural fence towards the sea cliffs, I managed to see that there was this sea arch in the distance looking to the north
Ketubjorg_029_08152021 - Getting my first glimpse of the 'second' Ketubjörg Waterfall during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_telephoto_008_08152021 - Portrait zoomed in view of that 'second' waterfall at Ketubjörg during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_telephoto_015_08152021 - One of the birds flying before the 'second' Ketubjörg Waterfall as seen during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_telephoto_029_08152021 - Telephoto look at the 'second' Ketubjörg Waterfall as we looked towards the north from a bluff during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_044_08152021 - Looking at the context of a collapsed cliff fronting the 'second' Ketubjörg Waterfall as we looked north instead of south during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_038_08152021 - Upon closer inspection of the sea cliffs further north of the 'second' Ketubjörg Waterfall, it was very clear that there were sea arches at the bottom of them cliffs during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_045_08152021 - Context of the bluff that we stood on to look towards the 'second' Ketubjörg Waterfall during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_051_08152021 - As we walked back to the car, I came to realize that whenever there were streams like this cutting through the grassy fields near Ketubjörg, these were feeding sea-cliff-diving waterfalls further downstream! So who knows?  There could be even more of them!
Ketubjorg_056_08152021 - Context of the unpaved Road 745 with the 'first' Ketubjörg Waterfall even visible from here during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_057_08152021 - Looking back at the Road 745 and the stile that Mom was approaching. Notice how the sign that was once there on our first visit here in 2007 was gone now in August 2021
Ketubjorg_058_08152021 - Mom going over the other stile closer to the 'first' Ketubjörg Waterfall
Ketubjorg_063_08152021 - This was the familiar view of the 'first' Ketubjörg Waterfall seen during our August 2021 visit, which was 14 years after the first time we were here
Ketubjorg_067_08152021 - More contextual look at the 'first' Ketubjörg Waterfall with some hints of sinking cliffs as seen during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_081_08152021 - Looking out towards the Skagafjörður along more pronounced cliffs as seen from the spot we viewed the 'first' Ketubjörg Waterfall during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_084_08152021 - Another look at the 'first' Ketubjörg Waterfall where we noticed there were sheep pastures further upstream of the falls during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_087_08152021 - Like on our late June 2007 visit, there were still wildflowers blooming on the grassy area before the 'first' Ketubjörg Waterfall as seen during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_088_08152021 - Mom checking out the 'first' Ketubjörg Waterfall from a similar spot where Julie checked it out 14 years earlier
Ketubjorg_089_08152021 - Tahia and Mom going back over the stile after having had our fill of the 'first' Ketubjörg Waterfall during our August 2021 visit
Ketubjorg_001_06272007 - The unsealed Route 745 along Skagafjörður that led us from around Blönduós towards Ketubjörg (as seen in June 2007 when we first came here)
Ketubjorg_002_jx_06272007 - This beautiful Icelandic horse didn't feel like moving out of the way when we were headed to Ketubjörg on our late June 2007 visit
Ketubjorg_006_06272007 - After walking on some grassy hills, we arrived at the edge of the cliffs which dropped right into the fjord and/or the ocean on our late June 2007 visit
Ketubjorg_023_06272007 - A bird flying by one of the blooming flowers in the Arctic wind during our late June 2007 visit
Ketubjorg_027_06272007 - Closer look at Ketubjörg plunging off the cliff into the Skagafjord or ocean below as seen in late June 2007
Ketubjorg_044_06272007 - Wildflowers before the falls at Ketubjörg during our late June 2007 visit
Ketubjorg_057_06272007 - Last look at the falls at Ketubjörg to cap off our late June 2007 visit


We’ll pick up the driving directions from Blönduós because it was the most notable town in the Skagafjörður area.

So starting from the roundabout just south of the bridge over the Blanda River in Blönduós, we would continue on the Ring Road for about 2.3km to a turnoff on the left for the Road 74.

Drive_to_Hvitserkur_018_iPhone_08152021 - We noticed this waterfall when we were at the turnoff onto the unsealed Route 745 in Skagafjörður leading up to Ketubjörg
We noticed this waterfall when we were at the turnoff onto the unsealed Route 745 in Skagafjörður leading up to Ketubjörg

Once on the Road 74, we’d then drive for just under 7km to the Skagastrandarvegur (Road 744) on the right.

Then, we’d follow this road for nearly 21km to the Route 745 on the left (there’s an attractive waterfall in the distance as seen from this turnoff).

Finally, we’d follow the unpaved Route 745 north for nearly 28km to a signed clearing with a noticeable gate and stile.

This was the sanctioned trailhead for Ketubjörg though it’s really for what I called the “second waterfall”.

Ketubjorg_011_jx_06272007 - We parked near this sign (which was there on our late June 2007 visit), then we approached this stile that led us over the fence so we could access the cliffs with a view towards the 'first' waterfall at Ketubjörg
We parked near this sign (which was there on our late June 2007 visit), then we approached this stile that led us over the fence so we could access the cliffs with a view towards the ‘first’ waterfall at Ketubjörg

As for the original one that we spotted, we’d backtrack for roughly 1.6km to where there’s the original stile, and that prompted us to look for a suitable place to park off the unpaved road.

After parking the car, we’d then go over this stile and just make a short jaunt up the hill for the “first waterfall”.

Overall, this 57km drive would take under an hour.

If we were to come from Sauðárkrókur, we’d drive about 16km northwest along the Route 744 before turning right onto the Route 745 and follow it nearly 28km to the stile and clearing at the sanctioned trailhead.

Ketubjorg_011_08152021 - This was the sanctioned clearing and stile leading towards the 'second' waterfall and additional cliffs of Ketubjörg as of August 2021
This was the sanctioned clearing and stile leading towards the ‘second’ waterfall and additional cliffs of Ketubjörg as of August 2021

Overall, this nearly 47km drive would take around 45 minutes.

As for geographical context, Blönduós was 48km (over 30 minutes drive) west of Sauðárkrókur, 143km (over 90 minutes drive) along the Ring Road west of Akureyri, and 237km (about 3 hours drive) along the Ring Road north of Reykjavík.

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Left to right sweep with a lot of wind showing the sea arches first then panning over to the 2nd of the Ketubjorg waterfalls


Right to left sweep starting with the Ketubjorg cliffs and then panning over to the opposite side of the 2nd waterfall


Left to right sweep from the cliffs showing the original Ketubjorg waterfall that we had seen 14 years ago

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Tagged with: skagi, skagafjordur, blonduos, akureyri, glaumbaer, varmahlid, northwest region, nordurland vestra, iceland, waterfall, tidefall



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