About Nykurhylsfoss (Fossarfoss, Sveinsstekksfoss)
Nykurhylsfoss (Sveinsstekksfoss or Fossárdafoss) was kind of a hidden, off-the-beaten track waterfall in Fossárdalur on the Fossá River as it twisted and tumbled its way to the Berufjörður in Iceland’s Eastfjords.
That said, during our August 2021 visit, we did seem to notice an appreciable amount of curious visitors stopping by whether they were looking to break up a long drive or noticing other people parking off the Ring Road (see directions below).
While there seemed to be some degree of confusion about visiting this waterfall (for reasons I’ll get to shortly), once we figured it out, it was actually a quick stop with a nice view across the fjord.
I think the confusion stems from the fact that there was a conspicuous car park and picnic area on the south side of the Fossá River near a bridge that was gated off.
With several cars parked here, it would compel people to want to stop by and have a look, and that certainly happened with us.
Well, it turns out that this car park and picnic area was for the Nykurhylur Pool, which didn’t feature a waterfall, but a sign here indicated a folklore associated with it.
Basically, this pool was named after a mythical creature called a nykur which was a horse with backwards hooves.
It tries to lure people onto its back for a ride, but once a person is on, it can’t get off, and the nykur goes into the lake to drown its victims.
So this explains how the falls got the name Nykurhylsfoss (though I’m still unsure about the Sveinssteksfoss name), but what about the waterfall itself?
Well, it turns out that it’s possible to walk across the gated bridge over the Fossá River and then walk up the steep unpaved road to a lookout where the waterfall can finally be seen.
The round-trip distance of this walk would be about 1km.
However, the easier way to go would be to drive up the road on the north side of the Fossá River (eventually leading to the Eyjólfsstaðir Farm) and park at the car park right around the first bend.
From there, we were able to get a nice view over and across the Berufjörður before walking on the short descending path onto a bluff where there was a designated lookout finally revealing the two-tiered 15-20m Nykurhylsfoss.
Between the car park and the lookout, I also noticed that there was a fence with an entrance that went into a very steep and overgrown trail.
I didn’t pursue this trail all the way, but I’d imagine it eventually went to the top of the waterfall.
There are more waterfalls further upstream on the Fossá to extend a visit here beyond a short stop to break up the long drives through the Eastfjords of Southeast Iceland.
I’m sure pursuits further up the valley will be met with even greater solitude now that Nykurhylsfoss seems to be getting some degree of tourist traffic (at least as of August 2021 when we finally made our visit).
Nykurhylsfoss (Sveinsstekksfoss or Fossárdafoss) resides in the East Region near Djúpivogur, Iceland. It is administered by the municipality of Múlaþing. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting their website.
The nearest town of any significant size to Nykurhylsfoss (or Sveinssteksfoss or Fossárdafoss) is the small coastal town of Djúpivogur so I’ll describe the driving directions from there.
Starting from Djúpivogur, we’d drive back towards the Ring Road (roughly 1.3km) before turning right onto the Ring Road.
Then, we’d drive on the Ring Road for a little over 14km before crossing the road bridge over the Fossá River and turning left onto a road signed for Eyjólfsstaðir.
From there, we’d drive the remaining 500m up the steep hill to a car park on the left just past the bend at the top of the steep hill.
Overall, this drive would take around 15 minutes.
It’s worth noting that if the steep, unpaved slope might be a bit much for the rental car (even if using low gear), then there are alternatives.
The first alternative involves parking at the Nykurhylur Pool, which is what most people mistakenly do anyways since it’s easier to spot while driving the Ring Road.
Its turnoff is south of the road bridge over the Fossá River though you have to go around back onto the Ring Road to get there since the smaller bridge is gated off.
As for the second option, I’ve also seen people park by the gated bridge though there’s very limited space there as there’s hardly enough space to make a three-point turn if there are already cars parked here.
Just to give you a little bit of perspective on distances, Djúpivogur is about 104km (about 90 minutes drive) east of Höfn, 85km (about 90 minutes drive) south of Egilsstaðir, 297km (about 4 hours drive) east of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, 331km (about 4.5 hours drive) southeast of Akureyri, and 552km (over 7 hours drive) east of Reykjavík.
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