Gullfoss Waterfall with a Shake (Subtitle: I Really Need a Tripod!)


I intended to show the video (below) on the post I wrote in early October about some of the sites we’d visited during our holiday in Iceland. (A glimpse of Iceland). Well… I can come up with several excuses for not doing so, but the main ones are simply that I hadn’t got around to getting it onto YouTube – and then, when I did, it looked far too jumpy and shaky to use.

The moral of the story is that for good, ‘steady’ videos we need a tripod. It’s impossible not to be jostled around at popular tourist spots and holding a camera perfectly level whilst moving it along to show different aspects of the feature is a big no-no (for me anyway).

Gullfoss (Golden Falls) is the most spectacular and well known of the Icelandic waterfalls, and we visited it as part of the popular Golden Circle Tour. The roaring noise is fascinating! Anyway, here’s the shaky video:

The second half of this video has somehow been lopped off – which is probably just as well, as it was far worse than the first half!

Here’s a little bit of additional information about these falls, mostly from tourist information boards at the site:

The Gullfoss Falls are on the River Hvitá where it descends from the highlands into the Hvítårgljúfor Canyon.  The waterfall cascades in two tiers into the canyon and is about 31m high. The upper waterfall faces south and is 11 m high, the lower one faces west and is 20 m high. The two tiers can be seen in this photo:


For many years attempts were made to buy or rent the waterfall and harness its power, and disputes continued throughout the 20th century.  A woman named Sigridur Tómasdóttir (1871-1957), a farmer’s daughter and later owner of the nearby farm, Brattholt, became ‘standard bearer’ in the fight to protect the Gullfoss, and devoted most of her long life to preventing its destruction.

Happily, Gullfoss and its environs were designated a nature reserve in 1979.

There are a couple of theories as to why these falls became known as the ‘Golden Falls’. The first is because of the golden evening hue which often colours its glacial waters. The second is that the name was inspired by the rainbow that often appears when the sunshine hits the water spray. But I prefer this story, which tallies with all the other fanciful tales abounding in Iceland. It was found in the travel journal of Sveinn Pálsson:

A farmer named Gýgur lived at Gýgurjarhóll. He had plenty of gold and could not bear the thought of anyone else having it after he’d died. (What a meanie!) So he placed the gold in a coffer and threw it in the waterfall – which has been called Gullfoss ever since.

Well that’s the last post I’ll be doing on Iceland – for a while, anyway 🙂


About milliethom

I am a reader and writer of historical fiction with a keen interest in the Earth's history and all it involves, both physically and socially. I like nothing better than to be outdoors, especially in faraway places, and baking is something I do when my eyes need respite from my computer screen.
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33 Responses to Gullfoss Waterfall with a Shake (Subtitle: I Really Need a Tripod!)

  1. draliman says:

    Wow, quite magnificent! And your video didn’t look that shaky to me. Quite noisy, though!

  2. Joy Pixley says:

    Those waterfalls are amazing! Your video may be a *bit* shaky, but I’m glad you posted it: I got so much better a sense of the scope and size of the falls from the video than from the photos. I’m glad that someone stepped up and protected such a beautiful natural site.

    • milliethom says:

      Yes, I really want to improve my video making! Videos do show so much more than ‘stills’, especially when there’s sound as well. The Gullfoss is lovely, but I have a fascination for all waterfalls. There are others on Iceland I’d love to see. Sigridur Tómasdóttir deserves every praise for her long struggle. 🙂

      • Joy Pixley says:

        I love waterfalls too. They’re just so beautiful, and the bigger ones sound and feel so powerful. It just fills my heart up to watch and listen to one.

      • milliethom says:

        I imagine you’ve seen a lot more waterfalls than I have, with all your travels. I haven’t managed to get over to see Niagara yet, and Victoria Falls would be amazing to see, too. I’ve seen several around the UK, which are pretty, but they aren’t on nearly so grand a scale. One or two in the Caribbean are awesome (can’t remember the names, so that’s not much use!). Thanks again!

      • Joy Pixley says:

        Niagara was nice, but it’s mostly just big. I didn’t find it to have a lot of character, if that makes any sense. I actually prefer the smaller waterfalls we had in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York (the big part of the state that’s not New York City).

      • milliethom says:

        It’s funny how so many really ‘touristy’ sites can be less impressive than some off the beaten track. Niagara is still on our to ‘visit list’ – but that is so long, we’ll probably only manage half of them. (We need to be twenty again!)

      • Joy Pixley says:

        I would definitely still recommend seeing Niagara; it’s very impressive. And loud. Incredibly loud.

  3. anroworld says:

    Very beautiful, dear Millie, you did a good job. It’s really challenging to make good video without tripod. Awesome pictures!😊

  4. milliethom says:

    Well, Ann, if I lived a little closer to you, I’d be round for video-making lessons. You’re so clever at it! Thank you for your nice encouraging comments. 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Arv. Iceland is a lovely country and I believe the scenery is stunning in the winter. September is a good month in which to see the aurora borealis, and we were lucky enough to see it! We were very impressed with this waterfall.

  5. milliethom says:

    It is impressive, isn’t it? Our trip to Iceland was lovely – especially as it was last year’s Christmas present from two of our sons. Visiting this waterfall was perfect as the weather was nice and sunny. Thank You, Jack.

  6. I love it. I think it’s amazing. ❤️❤️

  7. inesephoto says:

    Magnificent! You had a fabulous trip, Millie.

  8. Christy B says:

    What a funny story about how Gullfoss got its name!

  9. Ah! So this is what it looks like in Summer. I am glad you went on the Golden Circle tour, because as you post about it, I can see what the country looks like at the other end of the year. I think I have told you that I thought this was the coldest place on earth that I had visited. I love the cold but not -35 degrees Celsius. I am sure that was what it was with the wind chill factor, despite being a sunny day. My fingers went so numb I found it incredibly difficult to press the shutter on my camera and I was doing my utmost to protect my young daughter from the fierce wind! We didn’t get down the whole stairs – my ears were hurting so much from the cold! The minute we walked back and around the other side of the hall/shop, away from the wind, it was actually quite pleasant. Thanks for bringing back the memories of that day. I wonder if we had the same Icelandic guide? That would be a coincidence!

    • milliethom says:

      Well, it was the end of September when we were there, and definitely autumnal. I’d love to see Iceland in deep winter, as you did. I’m not sure I’d cope too well with -35 though! It was bad enough here in 2010 when temps dropped to -18. No wonder your ears and hands were numb! Someone I follow on Twitter visited Iceland in June and it looks lovely then, too. Our tour guide was a young woman, but there was another tour at the same time as ours with a male guide.

  10. Aquileana says:

    Great feature, dear Millie…. I loved the stories concerning the name of the Falls. The photographs and video are very nice, too .. I think you did quite well, despite the tripod issue 😉😙 Wishing you an excellent weekend, my friend 🌟

  11. Norma says:

    I enjoyed the shaky video, Millie. I liked the third story for the fall – evil and mean. 😉

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