Located in the Þjórsádalur Valley with a spectacular backdrop of volcanic Hekla in southern Iceland, Hjálparfoss is unique among Iceland’s scores of dramatic waterfalls as it has a double fall shooting over 10-m (31-ft) basalt cliffs into a bubbling plunge pool below. Divided by a rocky lava outcrop, the waters race from the confluence of the rivers Þjórsá and Fossá amid bizarre rock formations, all surrounded by relatively fertile grasslands where Icelandic ponies still roam in summer. The lava-strewn landscape is the result of long-term activity by Hekla, which the island’s most active volcano. A visit to Hjálparfoss is often combined with tours of the volcanic uplands of the Landmannalauger, where hot springs form natural thermal pools that are perfect for bathing – even in the middle of winter.
Hjálparfoss is a 90-minute drive east from Reykjavik down a gravel track off Road 32. It is easily accessed from the car park by a maintained, stepped pathway. Take insect repellent when visiting in summer. Plans to make the waterfall path wheelchair-accessible are underway.