A hidden waterfall in Iceland’s Westfjords
Succumb to the force of nature as you come face to face with thunderous Dynjandi
If you’re interested in seeing some of the most spectacular, jaw dropping, out-of-this-world waterfalls, you need to head to Iceland.
With over 14 percent of the total landmass being covered in lakes and glaciers, it should come as no surprise that waterfalls flourish in this inspiring country.
There are the famous falls Gullfoss and Goðafoss, both of which get plenty of visitors each year and are easily accessible if you’re driving the Ring Road. Then there are the lesser known gems—waterfalls that are out of the way at the end of long, bumpy, unpaved roads, that get far less traffic than their famous counterparts. Waterfalls like Dynjandi in Iceland’s breathtaking Westfjords.
Dynjandi is approximately 85 kilometers (about 50 miles) away from the port town of Ísafjörður (the largest town in the Westfjords with a population of 2,600), which was the last stop in Iceland on last summer’s Holland America cruise.
Here I set off on a tour run by Wild Westfjords to see the tremendous Dynjandi in person. From Ísafjörður we drove about 30 minutes until we reached the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it village of Þingeyri, where we turned off onto a winding gravel path that wound it’s way up the side of a mountain.
I wasn’t envious of our driver, who did a fantastic job navigating the narrow road up past the snow line and down the other side of the mountain. During the winter the road is closed due to heavy snowfall, restricting access to Dynjandi.
When we got back down to sea level, I got my first glimpse of Dynjandi from across the fjord. Even from a distance, I could see that this waterfall was special. With water cascading down over 100 meters into the fjord below, it’s an impressive sight to say the least. At the top, the waterfall is roughly 30 meters wide and stretches to 60 meters at the bottom, where it divides into a series of smaller falls.
When we reached the parking area below the waterfall, there were only a handful of other vehicles, mostly belonging to people camping nearby.
Here I was able to experience the constantly changing weather that Icelanders are always talking about. First, we were pelted by rain and a fiercely cold wind. A few minutes later, the sun came out, producing a gorgeous rainbow above the fjord. Not long after that, it was back to wind, rain, fog, and the occasional peak of sunshine here and there.
Our guide, a bearded mountain man who wore a completely waterproof outfit except for his woolly toque reminded us that in Iceland “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”
Dynjandi means “the thundering one,” and this waterfall certainly lives up to its name. The rush and crash of the water grew louder and louder as I was walked up the rocky path to the widest part of the falls.
When I finally stood face to face with The Thundering One, its vast size, enormous sound, and the sheer force of nature overwhelmed and amazed me. The views onto the fjord and mountainous landscape were just as striking as Dynjandi itself.
After spending an hour marveling at Dynjandi and the fjord, we began the return trip back to Ísafjörður, but first we made a few more stops of interest along the way.
The first stop was at Hrafnseyri, the birthplace of Jón Sigurðsson, a national hero who was the leader of the Icelandic campaign for self-determination in the 19th century.
We had the option of visiting the small museum dedicated to Sigurðsson, but instead I chose to sit in the onsite café and enjoy some homemade berry and Skyr cake. Don’t miss out on trying some Skyr if you’re in Iceland!
After our bus driver expertly navigated us over the mountainous road again, we arrived back in the village of Þingeyri (population: 250), which we had passed on the way to Dynjandi in the morning.
Like most other coastal communities in Iceland, the sea has formed the culture and industry in Þingeyri.
Due to its location in the fjord Dýrafjörður, the village established itself into an important fishing center in the Westfjords region.
There are only one or two shops in Þingeyri, but they offer handmade local items that cost significantly less than those in the shops in Ísafjörður. I couldn’t resist picking up an Icelandic wool toque for myself—one of the few souvenirs I purchased on the whole trip.
And with that, it was time to hop on board the bus again and head towards Ísafjörður.
Many people come to Iceland and only visit Reykjavík, the Golden Circle, and the Blue Lagoon, but the country has so much more to offer. Iceland is such a naturally diverse country, and I highly recommend seeing as much of it as you can. If you’re looking to be amazed by your surroundings and also interested in seeing something that not all tourists know about, head on over to the remote Westfjords and pay a visit to Dynjandi. Undoubtedly, the highlight of my day was standing in front of this waterfall and marveling at its immense scope and thunderous sound.
Elisabeth Beyer is a German-Canadian travel writer and blogger based on the west coast of Canada. She loves to explore different cultures and destinations, favoring natural landscapes to big cities. You can read more about her travels at her personal blog www.sidetrackedtravelblog.com.
This article originally appeared in the March 24, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.