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Hraunfossar Waterfalls

Our first stop on the tour was actually down town Reykjavik. This is not it. 🙂 Since we visited that city four times before in the course of the trip, I thought I’d discuss it later, when I’ve had more time to work out all the details. Hraunfossar was our second stop.

This is a series of waterfalls stretching 2,900 feet long in which the water actually comes out of the shear face of the rock rather than flowing over the top.

The water emerges from the Hallmundarhraun pillow lava field and flows into the river Hvita’.
Hallmundarhraun lava field was formed around 800 AD, shortly before the first recorded settlers arrived in Iceland, and is named after a settler.

The area was declared a national monument in 1987. Since then they have put in extensive trails, viewing platforms, and bridges. Still, we ended up walking on raw lava part of the time.

Keep in mind that even the “soil” of Iceland is just pulverized lava.

The “pillow” lava is porous lava that glacier and rain run off can soak into and run through. That’s why the water comes out half way up the cliff.

The river is quite large. The water flows at 80 m3/s on average but can reach flood levels of 500m3/s. When it does, it overflows the banks and floods the whole area.

Note the people standing on the platform on the right.

There is another waterfall above Hraunfossar. This one, where the channel narrows, is called Barnafoss, ie Children’s Falls.

There was originally a natural arch over the river. A widow and her two children lived nearby. While the woman was away, the children climbed on the bridge, fell into the river, and died. When she discovered this, she had the natural arch destroyed. Later, a wooden bridge was built on the same spot. The falls are named after her children.

The place is aptly named. Hraun = lava and Fossar= watherfall.

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