Svartifoss Hike, between waterfall and greeny lanscape
Svartifoss Hike along the “Waterfall Path” is the most known and visited walk by tourists discovering Skaftafell because it is the shortest and easiest one to access, in addition of being extended to other points of interest within the park. The starting point can be reached directly from the parking lot or the camping located about 200m away.
It takes about one hour and a half (1.5km) to walk the loop between the parking and Svartifoss waterfall. The hike is easy and the height difference is about 150m. Having looked at the map available at the visitor center, we follow the path marked S2, then S3. Half an hour later, we arrive on a plateau with a crossroad. One path leads us down to Svartifoss waterfall and another to a hill overlooking the ice tongue of Skaftafellsjokull and Sjónarnípa. From the plateau itself, we can already see Svartifoss waterfall which look really isolated in the middle of a surprising vegetation. The road to Sjónarnípa is closed today due to snow, still quite present in the middle of June!
Unlike Dettifoss or Skogafoss, Svartifoss is not famous because of its water flow, but thanks to its absolutely beautiful environment. Indeed, the “black waterfall”, as it is nicknamed, is surrounded by beautiful dark basalt columns, sort of natural volcanic organs formed by a lava flow which cooled slowly. The water falls from a height of about 12m and we take our time to admire it more closely. Then it is time to go back to the intersection and cross a small bridge about twenty meters before the fall which allows us to reach the other side of the river and to continue our walk.
As we climb, the vegetation becomes increasingly rare, until having disappeared completely in favor of rocks and pebbles. We come face to a closed barrier which indicate that Skaftafellsheiði hiking trail is currently closed because of the snow. Really, that snow still present in large quantities in June impresses me! Will Iceland become the new Eldorado of winter sports? Anyway, this trail of 18km can not be done in half a day and is not part of our program, so we follow the loop allowing us to get back to the parking lot by the other side (yes, it’s a bit the principle of a loop). In doing so, we go through the previously mentionned “Waterfalls path” and admire Hundafoss and Þjófafoss waterfalls, of course less known that Svartifoss, but very nice to see nevertheless.
Just before returning to our starting point, we cross Lambhagi, a surprising place in Iceland since there are trees here! I find amusing the fact to get amazed by this kind of thing, but it seems that it is normal for us, people from the continent. Come on, just look out the window, I’m almost certain that you will see at least one tree and even grass! Here in Iceland, it’s most likely volcanic rocks, mountains, glaciers and volcanoes that you’ll see from your window, no doubt about it! These trees offer an ideal environment for birds and we quickly spot a large number of them, all of different sizes and colors. One of them especially can be heard from far away as it makes a funny noise which sounds like a laser! Piiiuut, piiiiuuuut! It take us 5 good minutes to see it, even if it was right above above our head!