Glymur, Hvalfjörður, Iceland.
It was dark and gloomy when we found the cave, only 30 minutes after leaving the desolated parking lot. The hike instantly became more fun, who doesn’t like a little cave to wake up his inner child? A few minutes further down the path this inner child got rewarded for showing up. There was a tree trunk connecting the sloshing water between the west and east bank of the river Botsná. Our first encounter with the water originating from lake Hvalvatn, or literally ‘whale lake’.
From the east bank we would follow the canyon, a total inclination of 400 meters until the waterfall. Soon Glymur would appear between the narrow cliffs of the canyon, adding his thunder to the already rumbling wind and rain. While all that rampage was trying to get us soaking wet, we climbed further and further on what we had now officially labelled as the ‘most fun hike yet’. Climbing over boulders and making friends with ropes.
The higher we got, the more impressive Glymur proved to be, flying down between the lush green cliffs of the narrow canyon. The weather was only adding only more desolated mysticism. There is something about hiking Iceland in the rain that I can’t quite describe. Seeing water smashing down almost 200 meters in the mist, makes you believe that fairy tales are real.
Now and then we would see the wind challenging some smaller side-waterfalls. Blowing them in all directions except for the one gravity would approve. Right before reaching the top of Glymur, the loose rocks were getting to slippery and the wind too fierce. Being all alone we decided going down the same way we went up. Good thing going down wasn’t any less fun.
The parking lot is called ‘Botsna’, a place that is familiar to google maps. From there it is about 30 minutes of fairy flat walking until you reach the cave and not much further to the river crossing. Once you have crossed to the East side of the river Botsná, you will slowly ascend about 400 meters until you reach the top of the waterfall. More than once you will hike on a cliffside or pulling yourself up onto rocks with the help of ropes. It is 3,5 kilometres from the parking lot until the top of the waterfall.
Once you have reached the top you can go back the same way or you can choose to cross the river to the West side again. The river is fairly broad, slow and shallow at this point. On the West side there are markers to either a cliff trail or an easier (but longer) trail back to the parking lot. Whether you choose the East- or West-side return, it will probably take you as long.
It would be wise to allow 3 or 4 hours to complete the hike, but if you walk a bit faster you could probably do it in 2,5 hours like we did.
When hiking in Iceland, make sure to enjoy all weather! Nature is gorgeous, even in wind and rain! But also keep your ego in check when the weather makes things extra slippery, better safe than sorry.