Faxifoss Waterfall – West Iceland

Faxi waterfall Iceland

Vatnsleysufoss

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. Before 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 is a car park, a little farm shop and a seasonal cafe.  The waterfall can be safely accessed by a winding track down to the campsite.

Small Group Ice Caving

Salmon Ladder

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 24mm with a 6-stop circular ND to achieve 49 seconds (bulb mode).

Faxi Waterfall
Lupine at Faxifoss.

Summer Lupine

In the Summer, Faxifoss can have rich flora and fauna and can be very good for the colourful lupine. Lupine are 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 Iceland locations.  I took this shot from the upper level of the waterfall.  You can getup there by crossing the salmon ladder at its highest point and then follow the bank to the top of the waterfall. 

Photography Challenge

The main challenge 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.

Faxi Waterfall
Faxi Waterfall from the bottom with a 24mm lens.

Where to Stay

Booking.com
Faxi Waterfall
Faxi Waterfall from the top with a telephoto lens..

Winter Waterfall

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 carpark.

Faxi Waterfall
Faxi Waterfall in the Winter

Raja Banerjee did a good job of photographing the frozen details in his photo gallery.

Golden Circle Tours

Most of the following tours will include Faxi Waterfall although they might stop at the top carpark so you can walk down if conditions are good.

Private Golden Circle

Golden Circle minibus

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By Tony Prower

Tony Prower spent over 15 years photographing the landscapes of Iceland. Tony Prower is a pioneer of the Magic Cloth Technique and ran thousands of photo tours in Iceland over 10 years.