Thundering down 196 meters into a lush, green gorge, Glymur is the second tallest waterfall in Iceland. The river Botnsá flows from the lake Hvalvatn along a flat area before plunging down the cliff. This is one of my favorite places in southwest Iceland. I hiked up the south side trail for the second time a few weeks ago with two friends. The word glymur means crash/rumble in Icelandic and refers to the enormous sound of the rushing falls. After driving about an hour and a half outside the city, you can park your car in a little lot before hiking up. There are two ways to get up to the top of the waterfall. The much easier north side trail turns left at the river and continues gently upwards with great views of the gorge and valley, but limited views of the actual waterfall. Although, this trail will allow you to stand on the rocks at the very top of the waterfall (you can see the rocks I’m talking about in the photo above- the north side being the right of the picture), which is quite intense. However, I really recommend the north side. The views are much better, and while the 1.5- 2 hour hike up will wear you out, it’s not technically difficult, and there are ropes along some of the steeper sections in the first half. The biggest challenge of the north side is the river crossing in the winter. In the summer, the trail will lead to a log bolted to rocks on each side and torso-height-cable for easy crossing. In the winter, you will have to hang upside down on the cable and shimmy across the cable over the thigh-depth water, which is not as hard as it sounds, but a little intimidating. I’m not particularly agile or athletic, and I’ve done it twice. The only other way to cross the river is to wade across a bit further up, but I don’t recommend that. The water is up to thigh depth in some places, painfully cold, and quite fast flowing. You technically can cross up at the top (beyond the waterfall) if you follow the river to where is it shallow (mid calf depth). My friends and I wanted to walk down the north side after going up the south, so we walked another 30 minutes across the mossy plain, following the curves of the river (waterproof boots are a must if you are going to keep going past the waterfall drop). In order to get across the river, we had to make three separate crossings in our barefeet going from little island to little island. And I swear my feet have never been so damn cold. By the time I got across the last bit, my feet were numb and I was literally crying as I used my scarf to dry them off and sat on the moss yelling expletives in an effort to express my foot-unhappiness. But it was cool to be able to walk up one side and down the other, and to show for it I have great photos from both sides of the waterfall. So enjoy, knowing that my poor feet paid dearly to get you these shots (and yes, it was so worth it). Above: a view of the north side (left) and south side (right) from the bottom of the trail. The waterfall (below) lies out of sight further up the gorge.
Above: the top of the waterfall as seen from the south side. Below: thick, lush green Icelandic moss on the north side. [These photos are scanned 35mm film shots taken by me with a Canon EOS Rebel 2000.]