Morsárfoss

Morsárfoss - Tallest Waterfall in Iceland
Morsárfoss - Tallest Waterfall in Iceland

About:

Morsárfoss is Iceland’s tallest waterfall measuring 787 ft  (240 m), which surpasses the previous record held by Glymur at 650 ft. Morsárfoss is located in the southeast part of Iceland. You can find it hidden away in the Skaftafell Nature Preserve, which the Vatnajökull National Park encloses. 

The original measurement shows only 748 ft of Morsárfossar to be visible, while the rest of the waterfall is covered with snow and ice from Morsárjökull, an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull. An outlet glacier is a channel of the glacier that drains an inland ice sheet and flows through a valley. Morsárfoss’s source of water is from the melting ice of the outlet glacier above. Morsárfoss is known for its remote location and record-breaking height, just not it’s volume. Morsárfoss is more of a small falling stream, and it’s not alone. It is also often referred to as Morsárfossar, the plural name, due to the other streams the melting glacier creates in the area.

History:

The history for Morsárfoss doesn’t date back far, as it was only discovered in 2007. Dangers of falling ice, from the glacier above the fall, prevented Morsárfoss from being accurately measured until a few years after its discovery. In 2011, it was officially measured by Sigurdsson and Gudmundur Ögmundsson. They used several different variations of measurements were taken, with the tallest being 787 ft. After the measurements were established, it was officially declared as Iceland’s tallest waterfall.

The name Morsárfoss was also established in 2011. The name was picked from an open submission contest, where the submitted name with the most votes wins. The competition held 1,991 contestants, with a total of 986 names submitted. The top three names were the following: 

  • Morsárfossar with 119 votes 
  • Klettafoss (“Rocky Falls”) with 56 votes
  • Morsi with another 56 votes. 

Sigurdsson submitted his suggestion of Thrymur (“Thunderer”) to mirror the iconic Glymur waterfall. Thrymur comes from Norse mythology and describes the thunderous sound of ice falling from a glacier.

Hiking:

Hiking directly to Morsárfoss is not an easy task and is not advised. To see Morsárfoss up close will require you to trek over a moving glacier. Still, if you choose to hike to it, even with the warning of danger, it is recommended that you follow an experienced guide and have personal experience in glacial hiking.

Alternatively, Morsárfoss can be viewed from atop the peaks of Krishnamurti. The Kristínartindar Peak Ascent trail is 11.1 mi, with a 3,310 ft elevation gain, and rated the difficulty of hard, according to AllTrails. Several waterfalls can be viewed on this hike, including Svartifoss, but it is recommended that you bring binoculars if you want a good view of Morsárfoss since the fall is still a distance of 3.7 mi away.

Skaftafell National Park offers offers several different trails to hike, and as a result, provides a campground for those wanting to maximize their time in the park.

Directions:

As mentioned above, the remote location Morsárfoss makes it a problematic waterfall to reach. Unfortunately, an up-close and personal look at the fall is inaccessible to most. The good news is it is possible to catch a glimpse of it from Route 1 for those wanting to avoid a hike. It can be seen around the Skeidarársandur plains area. The bad news, this glimpse will be from a distance of 12.5 mi.

Finding Kristínartindar Peak Ascent trailhead is an easy task as it’s not far off Route 1, but it will require around a 4-hour drive from Reykjavik. Follow Route 1 (Þjóðvegur) to Skaftafellsvegur road. Stay to the right on the fork, and you will arrive at Skaftafell, VatnajökullNational Park.

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