B y now the probability you have seen what is arguably the most impressive canyon in the whole of Iceland is overwhelming although you might not realize it.
Jökulsárgljúfur, Glacier river canyon, in the Northwest of Iceland has featured in amazing numbers of Hollywood blockbusters and TV shows these last few years. Flicks like Transformers: Age of Extinction, Oblivion and Promotheus to name but a few recent ones.
To be sure the reasons for that popularity has as much to do with tax rebates as beauty but nevertheless it is one of the most visually stunning places in Iceland. Even without Hollywood wizardry.
The hike is not necessarily very hard but it can be a little frightening
The river itself, Jokulsafrom which the canyon takes its name, stretches all the way from Vatnajokull glacier in the South to Asbyrgi National Park by the shore and for the very light on their feet that way is a walk to remember. But for truly stunning scenery and serenity you start out either from Asbyrgi or better yet from Dettifoss waterfall. From there you´ll find tracks all along the cliffs of the canyon and in places easy access into it too. It is no less magnificent from below than from the top. On the way you´ll see an abundance of remarkable stone formations and amazingly varied landscape within the same canyon.
The hike from the Dettifoss waterfall to Asbyrgi Park is about 32 kilometers (20 miles) and most often done in two days. Hikers will have to bring tents or sleeping bags and lay down on the way. Team Total Iceland recommends taking even longer since this is such an awe-inspiring place and many spots here where people will simply have to take time out to wonder. Camping is only allowed in Vesturdalur and by Dettifoss itself but do make contact with park rangers before you do.
The hike is not necessarily very hard but it can be a little frightening in the highest spots But that fear also contributes to this being such a unique place. Take care and you´ll be fine.
A good advice is to start by visiting the visitor center in Asbyrgi where there are good hiking maps available for free. Fresh water and a toilet is found at Vesturdalur and only there on the way. However, drinking the water from the river will not kill you. Lastly, keep in mind to have someone pick you up if ending your trek at Dettifoss. Buses do go to and forth between Dettifoss and Asbyrgi in summertime but pre-booking might be a smart thing.
* pics by Herman Beun, Keith Marshall & Sparkle Motion