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Aim, Focus, Shoot - The HyPyC blog
Seljalandsfoss waterfall Iceland – A natural beauty but at what expense?

Seljalandsfoss waterfall Iceland – A natural beauty but at what expense?

In 2017 I visited Iceland for a second time just for two days before and after my epic trip to Greenland. As I had already seen much of Reykjavik, and completed the Golden Circle tour, I opted to try two different day trips to areas of the country I had yet visited. The first tour was to Thorsmork national park and was simply fantastic – The landscape of this rugged part of Iceland was breath-taking. As an added bonus on the return journey back to Reykjavik our tour guide took us to see the mighty Seljalandsfoss waterfall. I had mixed feelings about this natural wonder – On the one hand it was unbelievably beautiful and a true gem, but on the other hand the amount of other tourists present at the waterfall really dampened my spirits.

I was literally stood at the car park here, only 150m from the waterfall

The good – A true mighty natural beauty

The sheer magnificence of Seljalandsfoss cannot be denied. With a drop that plummets 60m into the Seljalands river, the noise from the waterfall is thunderous. As you approach the waterfall you can hear the gallons of water crashing into the pool below and see the spray it creates. The water gracefully topples over the edge of the cliffs and fills the pool beneath. The truly amazing part of Seljalandsfoss is behind the waterfall however – Accessible by a slippery footpath, you can walk behind the falls and look out onto the surrounding landscape. The noise as you pass by the water is deafening and you should wrap up fully as you are sure to get wet.

Where have all the people gone? Thank you Lightroom!

This is an experience that should not be missed and there are some fantastic photographic opportunities from behind the waterfall. So there ends the good - Seljalandsfoss is undoubtedly a stunning waterfall that mesmerizes those who gaze upon its mighty crashing waters. It is one of the finest waterfalls in Iceland and a must visit in the south of Iceland.

The waterfall was extremely impressive, especially when behind it!

The bad – Too popular for its own good?

While I will never shy away from a place because it is deemed as too "touristy" (Why would I not visit somewhere just because lots of other people do too, that's just stupid?), I do prefer quieter places if possible. Seljalandsfoss has become such a popular natural sight that it is unbelievably busy at most times of the day. When our tour vehicle pulled up, the car park was nearly full – There was a huge assortment of buses, cars and campervans and an even larger amount of tourists. For me this removed some of the beauty and mysticism surrounding the waterfall – I cannot get as excited about a "natural" wonder when there is a huge car park literally right next to it!

I took a long time editing this to remove the majority of the other tourists!

Aside from the ungainly car park, the amount of tourists also affected my experience. I can be a hugely selfish person, and in my ideal world, I would have been the only person present at Seljalandsfoss. I accept this is not a possibility, however the number of other tourists present was too much. As I walked to the waterfall, I was one of many in a queue (yes it was nearly a queue) to ascend the path to get behind the falls. At many points I had to courteously wait for people to finish taking their selfies and doing their stupid inane poses until I could continue – I didn't have to, but I'm not a twat and didn't want to ruin someone else's photo or experience. This made the experience for me seem more like a chore than an enjoyable adventure.

An undeniable beauty marred by the tourist industry?

Furthermore the amount of people made it difficult to get a decent photo. I have taken many landscape photos before with people in however this took the mick. I literally had to take the best shot I could, with the least amount of people in, and then remove the rest afterwards in Lightroom. Maybe I am a perfectionist and too fussy; but for me, the amount of people present at Seljalandsfoss really did affect my experience. Could anything be done to regulate the amount of visitors allowed at any one time? Did I just simply visit at the wrong time? Are there actually any times you can visit when you virtually have the waterfall to yourself? Let me know what you think!

What did you feel when you saw this mighty waterfall?

I want to love this magnificent waterfall and I truly did appreciate the experience, but there is that part of me that felt a twinge of selfish dissapointment when I saw how popular and touristic Seljalandsfoss has become.

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