Discovering Nauthúsagil Waterfall

Finding hidden gems in Iceland can be such a rush.  You pull up to a place and have it all to yourself makes it an even more intimate experience.  But what about hiking into a place where you have to work a bit harder to get to the get to the main attraction?  Maybe get wet, a little cold, but know every adventurous step was worth it!  Discovering Nauthúsagil Waterfall in the South of Iceland will be just that for you… Come along with us today as we share a guide on hiking it!

About Nauthúsagil Waterfall

 Nauthúsagil Waterfall directly translates to “bull house canyon.”  It’s been named this because that what it truly was long ago!  Farmers at Stóra-Mörk kept their bulls here to graze sometime in the late 1700’s.  Furthermore, there stories of this place being haunted also come along with exploring this area.  So it is truly intriguing!  Traveling through the South of Iceland you’ll find this beautiful hidden place just past Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi waterfalls heading towards a super jeep area called Thórsmörk.

How to Get There

Driving from Reykjavik to Nauthúsagil Waterfall, you can expect to be in the car for 2 hours.  Once you pass the small town of Hvolsvöllur your excitement and smiles will grow in anticipation!  You’ll go past as we previously mentioned, Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi waterfalls.  Please be aware that the road shortly after you pass those waterfalls turns into an F-Road (F-249).  Smaller economy cars are not allowed on f-roads as a general rule from rental car companies.  Before venturing here, make sure you are coming on a 4×4 that is allowed on f-roads.  A small SUV is more than enough to get to this specific spot but, make sure your rental car company deems it okay.

After about a 10 minute drive past Gljúfrabúi, you’ll see a small sign on the right hand side named: Nauthúsagil (see Google Map).  When you turn in if there has been a lot of rain recently, there will be a small river you need to cross here (more like a stream most days).  Then you’ll see the very small parking lot ahead of you and an sign telling you more about the history of the location and that it is a part of Katla GeoPark.  Park here so you are not in anyone’s way coming and going as there are tour operators often taking their guests here.  Lastly, about the directions, know this area is accessible year round, but when winter comes we suggest a truck that is on at least 35” tires, an inflation / deflation system, and an experiences driver-guide taking you in.

Hiking to Nauthúsagil

Now here comes the super fun part… Hiking into Nauthúsagil!  Ideally, before you begin the hike it is good to be a responsible tourist and pick up any trash you see around left from others.  Once you’ve done that gear up!  To illustrate, hiking clothes and wind/waterproof gear are important to have.  Additionally, you’ll want to wear wellies that are calf to knee high if possible or hiking boots you don’t mind getting soaked.  Why?  Because the hiking path is through the river.  Total time hiking is not longer than 20 minutes.

How to Hike to Nauthúsagil Waterfalls

  • Step 1: Hike back towards the opening the canyon (follow the river on the left side).
  • Step 2: Once the canyon narrows the route is through the river.  If the water level is lower you can easily use rocks as your foot path (and potentially not get wet).
  • Step 3: You’ll find (hopefully) 2 boards that will act as a “bridge” getting you over to the right side of the canyon as you trek further in.
  • Step 4: About 5-10 minutes into the hike you’ll arrive to the 2 lower waterfalls.  Stop and enjoy it for a few minutes!
  • Step 5: Hike over the top of the first lower waterfall.
  • Step 6: Grab the chains that are mounted to the left side of the canyon wall.
  • Step 7: Shimmy yourself across the chains and then grab the rope (or chain) that is mounted to the top of the higher waterfall to pull yourself up to the top of it.
  • Step 8: Trek less than 5 minutes more through the river and experience the taller waterfall which is at the end of this canyon.
  • Step 9: Enjoy the sights, sounds, waterfall spray, and the majesty the waterfall creates!
  • Step 10: Hike carefully back the same way.  Bonus:  If you still have energy on your way back out in the middle of the canyon you’ll see a path that goes up and you can view the tall waterfall from on top of the canyon too!

Additional Iceland Canyon Hiking Tips:

Lastly a few other things to keep in mind as you find your way to hiking to Nauthúsagil Waterfall:

  1. Bring an extra pair of shoes and socks.
  2. Have an extra set of clothes with you (just in case you lose footing on the chains and go into the water fully).
  3. Bring a water bottle to fill up with delicious spring water!
  4. Be patient if there are other explorers here as only 1 person should be on the chains climbing at a time.


Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this informative post on how to hike to Nauthúsagil Waterfall and you’ll be putting it on your Iceland things to do list!  Lastly, if our series on featuring the best offbeat hikes monthly in Iceland has inspired you to want to elope or get married in Iceland our team would love to hear from you!  Feel free to contact us on getting that adventure started!

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