Dettifoss & Selfoss

Inside Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon is Dettifoss, one of Iceland’s natural wonders and one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe. The waterfall, located in the Northeastern Iceland in Vatnajökull National Park makes up part of the Diamond Circle. Water flows from the Vatnajökull glacier and passes through the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River. The water is greyish white in appearance due to the sediment-rich runoff from the Vatnajökull glacier. The immense force of the water flow has led to its nickname “The Beast”. Approximately 96 gallons (363 L) of water passes over the 328-feet (100-meter) wide bow every second, causing the rocks to vibrate, and drops down 144 feet (45 m). The average rate of water passing through is around 6816 cubic feet per second (193 m3/s). Due to the sheer power, a continuous spray of water results in a fine mist and the regular formation of rainbows.


Selfoss is the widest waterfall in Iceland and is located on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river. The waterfall, named after the abandoned farm “Holssel” sits several hundred meters downstream from the Dettifoss waterfall. Selfoss is considerably smaller, standing at 36 feet (11 m) in height, compared to Dettifoss’ 144 feet (45 m). Due to the falls consisting of glacier runoff, the amount of water and rate of flow are dependent on a multitude of environmental factors and fluctuate greatly; the average discharge is 6,200 cubic feet per second (218,951 m3/s). During the winter months, water levels become considerably reduced. Volcanic activity occasionally results in glacial outbursts, resulting in massive flooding. This influx of water leads to large boulders and sediment becoming lodged into areas of the canyon.