Ófærufoss is arguably one of Iceland’s finest waterfalls; hiking to its location is also easy, and you won’t regret a stop to check out this impressive and beautiful waterfall.
Additionally, Ófærufoss is located in a stretch of a volcanic Canyon known as Eldgjá. Meaning “Fire Canyon”, Eldgjá is a 40 km segment of Volcanic craters and a major attraction in Itself. Fun Fact: Despite being several KMs away, it also includes Rauðibotn, another stop that I highly Recommend.
The first step of the waterfall.
The two steps of the waterfall.
However, to get to Ófærufoss, a 4X4 allowed car is required, and there are river crossings. Fear not, though; if you are not comfortable crossing rivers with your 4X4 rental car, I will provide an alternative hiking option that does not require crossing rivers. Scroll down to the Map section to view it and download the GPX file in case you need it.
The hike is short and easy, making the stop for Ófærufoss an easy one to include on any itinerary if you are travelling on road f208. There also are options for longer hikes around Ófærufoss, including views from the top of the Canyon. The hike I will describe here is the shortest option, straight from the parking area up to the viewing platform of Ófærufoss.
Hiking to Ofaerufoss, in the Eldgjá fissure.
On the trail – let’s get to Ofaerufoss!
How to get to Ófærufoss and Overview of the Hike
- How to get to Ófærufoss and parking: the parking area (click here for directions) is reachable from either f208 north or south. You would be coming from the north if you have previously visited Landamannalaugar, or some other location, such as Langisjor. If you are looking for car rental options, I can definitely recommend Blue Car Rental for cars and CampEasy for Camper Vans.
- Start of the Hike: the parking/rest area after the first river crossing on f208 south.
- Photography & Scenery value: one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, surrounded by green mossy slopes.
- Difficulty: easy
- Tip: if you can, go there in the evening or early in the morning. You’d have more chances to have this attraction to yourself. I visited after 8:00 pm on a summer evening in early August, and I had not met anyone else in the two hours I spent there. It was pure magic.
The beautiful Ofaerufoss, shortly before Sunset
The Ófærufoss Trail & Photos of the Hike
In the Volcanic Canyon of Eldgjá
As you leave the parking area, you can follow the flat trail that leads into what appears to be a narrow canyon. However, as I mentioned in the introduction, this canyon is part of a long stretch of volcanic craters. Essentially this means you are walking inside a gigantic, extinct volcanic crater.
The hiking trail to Ofaerufoss, next to the river
Sounds cool? It actually is, but it is hard to realise it’s a volcanic crater due to its size and shape. Anyway, the hike is indeed short but a great one nonetheless. The green slopes of the canyon are pretty imposing, almost demanding to be admired with some reverential respect.
But back to the trail; it’s well-marked and easy to follow. Detours, should you wish to follow any, are also well marked. You could, for instance, hike up to the side of the canyon opposite the waterfall and back down to go nearer to the waterfall.
The wide, well-worn trail to Ofaerufoss
Essentially, the trail follows the river upstream, and halfway through, you should already hear the roaring sounds of the two-step falls that constitute Ófærufoss. Almost like a soothing sound calling you from afar, you’ll walk the second half of the trail in anticipation of viewing the waterfall.
Ófærufoss up close
Suddenly, as you turn the last corner, you’ll get the first glimpse of the Majestic Ófærufoss. You’d be tempted to get as close to its base as possible; the call from the soothing sound of the waterfall to get up close is strong.
The truth is, the two steps are best watched from afar, close to the first bend of the river, where you can get the best view of both steps of the waterfall.
The first glimpse of both steps of the Waterfall.
Ófærufoss. The two steps of the waterfall. Can you see the two small sheep on the opposite side of the river?
There is no way to get any closer due to the river. And you should not attempt that either, to protect the vegetation.
As you proceed further, you will notice a narrow trail heading up the side of the canyon. You must get up there. That is where the viewing platform of the first step is. I’m saying this because it is not immediately obvious what’s up there, so here it is: make sure you get up there :).
The viewing platform is so close to the first step of the waterfall that you’ll get waves of water spray coming at you. The continuous, roaring sound of the falling water is also very loud and almost hypnotic, like all waterfalls.
I planned to be there before sunset to watch and photograph the waterfall with some colourful skies in the background.
As you can see, there is no indication of the existence of a viewing platform.
Ofaerufioss, shortly before Sunset.
The first step of the waterfall, photographed from the viewing platform at sunset.
Video of the Hike
If you want to have a feel for the trail, here’s a short video of this Hike
Overall, this is an excellent short hike. Not only because of the beauty of this waterfall but also because of the walk inside the Volcanic Canyon part of the Eldgjá volcanic craters. That is a major attraction in itself. If you are transiting on road F208, this is a must-stop.
Hiking to Ófærufoss – Map of the Hike
Here is the map of the Hike. As mentioned in the introduction, I have added a longer option for those who cannot or do not want to cross the first river: a rather big one, the first on f208 south. If you need a GPS track, you can download the .GPX file from the Komoot activity.
Short Hike – parking after the river:
Longer Hike – parking before the river at the ranger’s hut and info point:
Where to Stay
The closest facilities are at the Hólaskjól Highland Center, some 20 minutes away. Not much else around, but, hey, these are the Highlands of Iceland, and that’s the beauty of it!
Car or Camper Van Rentals
I can definitely recommend two companies here:
- Cars: Blue Car Rental, which is the largest Car rental company in Iceland, and for good reasons. Free Cancellation, Unlimited mileage, 24-hour break assistance, SCDW, CDW, TP, and GP insurance are included in the price. Blue Car Rental is also located within walking distance of the Keflavik Airport, so you can be on your way to explore Iceland right away. I’ve always been happy with my rentals there, which is why I’m happy to recommend their services here on my blog.
- Camper Vans: CampEasy. With CampEasy, you can rent 2WD or 4×4 campers alike. With a raised Chassis, larger tires, and extra insurance with reduced liability for river crossing, their 4X4 campers are the best choice for your trip into the Highlands. Their Website also provides extensive information about roads you can take and instructions on river crossings. Perfect choice for a hiking holiday in the highlands!
These are my two favorite companies in each respective rental area, which I why I am happy to recommend both here. If you also like this blog, booking through them is a great way to support it. I’ll get a small commission fee at no additional cost, so you can essentially support the running costs of this blog for free too.
Got a question or your own experience to share? Share it in the comments below!