Day 32: Mývatn – Dettifoss – Ásbyrgi

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Day 32: Thursday 03 August 2017

 

Weather at start of day, and for the rest of the day, was cool, blue skies, some cloud cover, and no rain.

 

Drove Road 1 east, then Road 862 (Dettifossvegur) north.

 

Stopped at Dettifoss (West Side) viewpoint.

 

 

Dettifoss is a waterfall in Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland, and is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

It is situated on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river, which flows from the Vatnajökull glacier and collects “greyish white” sediment-rich water from a large area in Northeast Iceland.

The falls are 100 metres (330 ft) wide and have a drop of 44 metres (144 ft) down to the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, causing a massive, crashing spray.

 

 

It is the largest waterfall in Iceland in terms of volume discharge, having an average water flow of 193 m3/s.

The Norwegian cascade Sarpefossen has a greater average water flow, but only with about half the height of Dettifoss.

Dettifoss is located on the Diamond Circle, a popular tourist route around Húsavík and Lake Mývatn in North Iceland.

 

 

Afterwards, we walked a little upstream to visit Selfoss waterfalls, which is also a very nice waterfall on the same river, although not as impressive as Dettifoss (only 11 metres (36 ft) fall),

 

 

Continued to drive Road 862 (Dettifossvegur) north, to Ásbyrgi where we set up tent at Jökulsárgljúfur campsite within Vatnajökull National Park

 

 

After setting up camp and dinner, we drove into the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon to the end point, to view the very high canyon walls closer.

 

 

Ásbyrgi Canyon lies in the north of Iceland, about 50 minute drive to the east from Húsavík on the Diamond Circle road.
The horseshoe-shaped depression is part of the Vatnajökull National Park and measures approximately 3.5 km in length and 1.1 km across.
For more than half of its length, the canyon is divided through the middle by a distinctive rock formation 25 meters high called Eyjan (“the Island”), from which a vast landscape is seen.

 

 

The canyon’s steep sides are formed by cliffs up to 100 metres in height. Down in the canyon, there are walks through a woodland of birch and willow – similar to Highland Norway.
Between 1947 and 1977, a number of foreign tree species were introduced, including spruce, larch and pine.

The small lake Botnstjörn is home to a variety of waterfowl species.
Here we saw a number of ducks close-up.

 

 

Ásbyrgi was most likely formed by catastrophic glacial flooding of the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum after the last Ice Age, first 8-10,000 years ago, and then again some 3,000 years ago.
The river has since changed its course and now runs about 2 km to the east.

 

Legend explains the unusual shape of the canyon differently.
Nicknamed Sleipnir’s footprint, it is said that the canyon was formed when Odin‘s eight-legged horse, Sleipnir, touched one of its feet to the ground here.

 

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