Impressive nature can be found almost at every corner in Iceland. But some places are especially fascinating and don't want to let you go. That's how I experienced it in Múlagljúfur Canyon, a breathtaking canyon in the southeast of Iceland. The canyon is not signposted and can only be reached after a short hike. Here you can read how to get to the magic canyon and what you can see on the way.
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Important! To make sure that the way to the viewpoint at Múlagljúfur Canyon remains as beautiful as it is: Stay on the well-trodden paths! The vegetation in Iceland is simply too sensitive. And where there are a few footprints, there are quickly more.
Why visit Múlagljúfur Canyon?
Múlagljúfur is a beautiful canyon with steep rock faces and spectacular views. Two waterfalls plunge into the canyon where the glacial river Múlaa flows below. The river is fed by the melt water from the Öræfajökull glacier.
Öræfajökull is part of the huge Vatnajökull glacier. The name refers not only to the glacier itself, but also to the volcanic massif below it, one of the largest in Iceland. The highest peak of the volcanic massif Hvannadalshnúkur is with 2.110 meters the highest elevation of Iceland.
Since the settlement of Iceland, the volcano Öræfajökull has erupted twice. The ashes and glacier runs have destroyed many farms, the area became desolate and the glacier got a new name: Öræfajökull. This means translated something like "wasteland" or "desert glacier". The volcano is still active, its last eruption was in 1727.
A path leads you from the parking lot up to the upper edge of the canyon. For me it is one of the most beautiful views in Iceland. Because from up here you have not only the beautiful view into the canyon itself, but also a wide view over the two nearby glacier lagoons.
Múlagljúfur Canyon is less well accessible and therefore much less visited than the better known Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon near Kirkjubæjarklaustur. It is also the much more beautiful of the both.
How to get there?
The Múlagljúfur Canyon is located near the ring road between the village Hof and the Fjallsárlón glacier lagoon. About 3,4 kilometres west of the access road to Fjallsárlón the gravel road branches off. The canyon is not signposted. After about 2 kilometers the track ends at a small parking lot.
The gravel road was in July 2020 with some caution also with a normal car good to drive on. At the beginning of the track there were some strong bumps, but after that it got better. A four-wheel drive vehicle was not necessary. However, it is possible that the condition of the road will deteriorate, especially after rainfall. Just try it out. And if you have the feeling that the track is too bad, then it's also worth to do the extra kilometres by foot.
Description of the Hiking Route
From the parking lot, the trail starts on the left at the dam of the glacier river. Soon it forks, you take the left path uphill. Shortly after that a small creek comes up which you can easily jump over.
Later there is a bigger river to cross. This was possible simply by using some stepping stones. After heavy rain and after the snow has melted, this can of course look different. If you want to be on the safe side, take some wading shoes and trekking poles for the balance.
After crossing the river the last ascent follows and after a few minutes you will reach the edge of the canyon. Here you have a great view of the first waterfall, the Múlafoss. If you turn right at the edge of the canyon, you will get the best view: from here you can see the whole canyon up to the waterfall Hangandifoss. The best place for a break! Enjoy the view!
Anschließend könnt ihr den Weg noch flussaufwärts weiter gehen. Nach einiger Zeit gelangt ihr an einen Abschnitt, der übersät ist mit Obsidian – auch bekannt als “Drachenglas” aus Game of Thrones. Aber nur anschauen und fotografieren – nicht als Souvenir mitnehmen, denn die Steine gehören hierher und andere Wanderer wollen sich auch noch an dem schönen glänzenden Obsidian erfreuen.
Facts about the Hike
Length: about 4.7 kilometres return
Height difference: about 240 height meters
Duration: About 2 hours return
Difficulty: the path is marked and easy to find, some sections are steep, a river has to be crossed, but there are stepping stones (at least in summer, if it hasn't rained before, no wading is necessary)
Shoes: Ankle-high hiking boots are best suited, as it is a narrow path over rough ground.
GPS coordinates of the parking lot: 63°59’34.9″N 16°26’10.2″W (N63.993021 – W16.436167)
Tip: Take enough water with you, the steep paths make you thirsty. There are also great places upstairs for a small snack with a view.
Tips for further Tours near the Múlagljúfur Canyon in Southeast Iceland
A visit to Múlagljúfur Canyon can be combined with a trip to the glacier lagoons, the famous Diamond Beach or a hike in Skaftafell. You want to see puffins? Then I can recommend the guided puffin tour in Ingólfshöfði.
Book Recommendations for Iceland
Do you want to know where the journey is going? Then I can recommend this travel guides* to you.
You can order the travel guides on Amazon by clicking on the pictures. If you buy a product via an affiliate link, I get a small commission and you help me to keep filling Fernweh-Motive with interesting articles. This does not make the product more expensive for you.
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Recommendations for further Reading
Do you love the Scandinavian countries as much as I do? Then you might also be interested in my articles about the Faroe Islands or a tour on a Dog Sled from Tasiilaq to Tiniteqilaaq in East Greenland.