Álftafjörður, Westfjords, Iceland.
We pulled up on the little parking lot, from where the hike to the Valagil Gorge started, less than 10 kilometres driving to the east from Súðavík. The whole route from Súðavík to Reykanes consists of the sea, with the occasional marine mammal on your left and breathtaking valleys on your right.
The Seljalandsdalur valley was no less. Even from our parking spot we could see some of the waterfalls tumbling down on the deep gorges, carved in the black igneous rocks. The sun turned droplets of water into pure gold, before they splashed on the green moss. Little clouds, forever trapped in the ravines, slowly spread their wings. I keep saying it, but the Icelandic landscape comes straight out of a fairytale. Imagine the setting of any magic story, that is how it looks like.
It was one of those rare warm summer days in Iceland. When out of the wind, one could even walk around in a T-shirt. A small sign showed us the way to the Valagil gorge and waterfall only 2 kilometres away. “Shall we do the whole valley hike?” I asked Koen while standing on the small wooden bridge, while the water from the Valagil waterfall tumbled underneath us. The whole hike was another 6 kilometres and would bring us along the right side of the valley, all the way to the tip, where other waterfalls added their water to the central river. There we would have to cross 2 bridges and return on the left side of the small lake at the end of the valley.
But soon the trail started to disappear in a true Icelandic forest of birch trees. Those trees really hang onto the soil for dear life and you can’t blame them considering the winds they have to bear. But that also makes it quite hard to find a way between their roots and low hanging tangled branches. The tree patch only stretched out for a kilometre, but i took us seriously a whole hour to escape from it.
The remaining of the hike to the tip of the valley was pretty straight forward. Crossing the first bridge to the right side of the river as well. But then we literally stranded between the two main river branches, for the second bridge was broken... Sooo it took us another hour to find a suitable spot to cross the river without dying. Unexpected ice-bath: check!
I’ve said it before, but always be prepared! In Iceland that also means to carry water sandals. Even when the hike description clearly mentioned bridges.
If you want to hike to Valagil Gorge, drive approximately 9 kilometers to the east from Súðavík on route 61. In the most inland point of Álftafjörður, you will find a small gravel parking lot from which the hike starts.