Dettifoss waterfall is the second most powerful waterfall in Europe, located in Vatnajökull National Park in northeast Iceland. The falls are 100 meters (330 feet) wide and drop 44 meters (144 ft). Its water cascades into the Jökulsárgljfur canyon. It is a branch of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river, which originates in the Vatnajökull glacier. Dettifoss is part of the Diamond Circle, a popular tourist route in North Iceland that circles Hsavk and Lake Mývatn. If you want to visit this magnificent waterfall, Mývatn is a good place to stay.
To get to the east side, take Route 864, an old gravel road with numerous potholes that winds through an alien-like landscape. It takes about 45 minutes to get there from Route 1. A 4×4 vehicle is highly recommended. This road is usually only open during the summer. There is a small parking area at the end of the road. Follow the trail for about 400 meters until you reach the waterfall. You can get really close to the waterfall from here, and you won’t usually have to deal with water spray. The photo above was taken from the east side.
Standing next to this waterfall makes you feel and almost fearful of nature’s raw power as you watch the massive amount of water fall into the canyon river. It’s no surprise that Ridley Scott chose this spectacular scenery as the backdrop for the opening scene of his film Prometheus!
The west side is much more accessible. You exit Route 1 and drive for about 20 minutes on paved Route 862 until you reach the parking lot. There is an upper viewpoint from which to admire the impressive waterfall, or you can follow the path for about 800 meters and get close to the waterfall. When we arrived, it was quite windy, so we had to contend with a lot of spray.
So, if you have the time, I would recommend visiting both sides. It takes about an hour to get from one side to the other. Having said that, if I had to pick just one, I’d say the East side is much more impressive, while the West side is much easier to access!
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