Dettifoss, Iceland

I think about all of those science fiction movies that I have seen, and I always wonder where they find such alien landscapes. It is not as if movies have advanced far enough yet to fly across the universe to other planets so they can film there, and I know that it costs a lot money to create a world digitally from complete scratch. So far, the only movie that I can think of that has done this with any amount of success has been James Cameron’s Avatar. Every other science fiction movie has to find locations somewhere on this earth that to the casual viewer would still transport them to another planet.

I remember watching the opening sequence of the movie Prometheus, and thinking that the place they were at could not be real. There is no way that a waterfall could be that big, and there is not a place on earth that could have a rocky landscape as the one depicted with the odd designer. It had to be digitally created, and if they did so, they did a really good job with it. Well, I soon discovered that I was wrong about it, and there is a place on this earth that looks like it belongs on another planet. Who knew that I would find it in Iceland?

On the high plateau a little north from the Myvatan area lies Iceland’s second largest river, Jokulsa a Fjollum, and a short fifteen walk across a bleak landscape that looks like it might be on Mars will take you to this immense waterfall, Dettifoss. Once there, there are many different platforms and locations to take in the majesty of this sight, and it is definitely worth the trip.

If you do go, there are a couple of things that you need to know about the location. 

When I was there, it was pretty warm outside, and I was getting a little hot on the walk over to the river. As soon as I got to the river, the wind picked up, and there was a constant spray from the waterfall. This made for cold and wet conditions. You will want to wear layers of clothes and make sure that outer layer is waterproof. 

Because of the constant spray of water coming from the river, the path can be at times muddy, and the rocks can be slippery. You will want some good footgear that will prevent you from slipping and falling.

Lastly, the area breeds these tiny bugs called midges. They don’t bite, and they aren’t even that big. But there are a lot of them, and during the walk over, they were constantly flying into my face, into my eyes, and even up my nose. In other words, they were extremely annoying. If you stop at any of the convenience stores at any of the gas stations before you get there, you should be able to buy a head net. They will keep all of the midges out of your face, and make the hike over more enjoyable. Yes, they look goofy, but if you are planning to explore the Myvatn afterwards, you will want these hair nets because the midges are all over the place there. When you get closer to the river, the wind and spray keeps the midges away, so you can get those pictures that you want, but until then, they really help with you sanity.

All in all, Dettifoss is an incredible waterfall, and worth the side trip for the hour or so that you spend there. So if planning a trip to Iceland, make sure to add this place to your itinerary. You won’t regret it.