Faxifoss is a beautiful waterfall on the Golden Circle route. It is also known as “Vatnsleysufoss“. It is not as big as Gullfoss, but the nice thing is that you can get really close to the falls. The waterfall is about 10 feet high and is quite a straight wall of water for about 50 feet.
Upstream of the waterfalls, the river bends around a typical Icelandic campsite and animal round-up pen. After the falls is a circular pond, which is a popular fishing location. At the entrance to Faxi Waterfall, there is a car park, a little farm shop, and a seasonal cafe. The waterfall can be safely accessed via a winding track down to the campsite.
Super-Jeep Tours to Thorsmork
Despite the height of the falls, Faxifoss is a salmon waterfall. To help the salmon get upstream, Icelanders have constructed a salmon ladder up the side of the falls so that the hardworking fish can have an easy time. To take the photo above, I crossed the Salmon ladder and composed the foreground rocks in my 24-mm with a 6-stop circular ND to achieve 49 seconds (bulb mode).
In the summer, Faxifoss can have rich flora and fauna and can be very good for the colourful lupine. Lupine is fantastic for transforming volcanic sand into fertile soil, so it was introduced to Iceland a few generations ago. Now it is threatening indigenous Icelandic plants, and nothing can be done about it. These purple plants peak around June and can be seen at many Icelandic locations. I took this shot from the upper level of the waterfall. You can get up there by crossing the salmon ladder at its highest point and then following the bank to the top of the waterfall.
The main challenge in taking the waterfall photo above is choosing the best shutter speed. I wanted to capture the silky effect of the waterfall from a long exposure. This effect happens at around 0.5-second shutter speeds. But also, I wanted to have the lupine nice and sharp. Having a day with no wind is unusual in Iceland. This was maybe my third visit to Faxi Waterfall to be able to capture a sharp flower with the milky waterfall behind.
Lupine, loved by tourists, hated by Icelanders.
Hotels near Faxifoss
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In the winter, you can get intimate with the ice details, and you always have this intense background. Often in mid-winter, the landowners close the access road, but you can always walk down from the upper car park.
Golden Circle Tours
Most of the following tours will include Faxifoss Waterfall although they might stop at the top car park so you can walk down if the conditions are good.