Our second stop on the epic Icelandic “Golden Circle Tour” was to the Gullfoss Falls. The area consists of two waterfalls, that are an upper and a lower waterfall. The name of it is translated to “Golden Falls” in English. It is true that the water itself does have a golden hue to it. This happens since it flows from glaciers and does contain sediment within it from their movement. Scientists estimate that the falls were formed during or soon after the mid-Ice Age. The location of Gullfoss is about a two hour drive from Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik.
I definitely heard it before I saw the waterfall, and after we walked up to the overlook area, you can see why. Massive amounts of water flows from it, at a super powerful speed! The time of year does effect the amount of water in the falls. In the summer months the water speed can average at 459 cubic feet (140 cubic meters) per second, while the winter water slows to around 358 cubic feet (109 cubic meters) per second. Honestly, either time that you visit, it flows very fast if you ask me!
I would recommend bringing a light jacket or raincoat with you on this visit, because at times with the wind, it can kick up the mist a little bit. Also, during winter travel, sometimes ice can form on the walking path, so I would recommend wearing boots or sturdy shoes for your visit as well. The two tiered waterfalls are located in the canyon called Gullfossgjufur.
As someone that appreciates land conservation, I was very interested to find out a piece of history from this region that every environmentalist will enjoy. In the early 1900s, an English businessman Howell, was very interested in forming a hydroelectric plant off of Gullfoss because of the massive amounts of energy it created. The then land owner, Tomas Tomasson, did decline offers to buy the area and famously quoted “I will not sell my friend!” Howell was very persistent, and eventually did end up leasing land from Tomasson, and tried to find loopholes to continue his plans.
Sigridur Tomassdottir, Tomas Tomasson’s daughter, took action into her own hands to prevent this gorgeous land from being used, and hired a lawyer to stop Howell. The case and legal battle went on for years, and it was known that Sigridur would travel by foot back and forth to Reykjavik (which is about 62 miles or 100 kilometers.) She famously said that if construction on the site would begin, she would throw herself into the waterfall. Through her persistence and courage, in 1929, Howell eventually gave up and withdrew from the lease with his own costs in this legal battle rising up.
Sigridur is recognized today as Iceland’s first environmentalist, and is one of the most famous and prominent people in its history. From traveling there, I can tell you that the citizens of this beautiful land take great joy in keeping it safe, and that is a viewpoint that I believe we can really think about and implement in our daily lives. When we work together to help our environment and Earth, wonderful things can happen from this. It really does make a difference and start with every one of us.
Let me know in the comments if you have ever visited the majestic Gullfoss Falls, and what your experience was like there as well. This would honestly be a fantastic day trip from Reykjavik, and is a must see location in my opinion. I hope that you are having a wonderful day, and remember to click that subscribe button!