The Breathtaking Nauthúsagil Ravine and its Secret Waterfall


blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    It’s hard to believe that Nauthúsagil is a real-life ravine. It looks like something that you see in fairy tale books or on the big screen when watching epic movies such as Lord of the Rings. 

    But this hidden gem in Iceland has another secret up its sleeve. In this article, we will explore why Nauthúsagil is considered a must-visit spot on a trip to the island. From magnificent features to more interesting places to explore in its surroundings, Nauthúsagil is where one will create memories to last a lifetime. So, let’s dive in! 

    Nauthúsagil; An Overview

    Nauthusagil loosely translates to Bull Shed Ravine. This might sound like a strange name for a ravine that hides a secret waterfall, but it was named after a bull shed that was built for bulls from the Stora-Mörk Farm that lies in front of the ravine. Others believe that the name comes from another farm nearby that was called Nauthus and that has been abandoned since 1770. 

    But Shakespeare asked the question “What’s in a name?” because we doubt that any name could adequately describe this little piece of paradise. The ravine with its lush vegetation covering the cliffs with the sun highlighting the waterfall (Nauthúsafoss) is simply magical. What also makes Nauthúsagil unique is the Rowan growing on the rims of the ravine, sometimes even completely covering it like a canopy. 

    Whilst there is more than one Nauthusagil Waterfall, most want to visit the “hidden” waterfall. To do that will require a little bit of a hike and some clambering, but don’t worry, there are stepping stones, ropes, and chains to make this easier. Even though most will consider it to be pretty easy, we don’t recommend taking it on with small kids or the elderly.


    Where is Nauthusagil Canyon?

    Nauthusagil can be found in the south of Iceland. It lies just under our infamous troublemaker volcano, Eyjafjallajökull. It sits conveniently close to one of our main roads and popular road trip routes here in Iceland, called the Ring Road. It’s roughly a 2-hour drive from the capital city of Reykjavík, so that should be your go-to departure location if you’re considering a day trip. 

    How to Get to Nauthúsagil

    You can opt for one of two ways to visit Nauthúsagil: 

    Take a Tour

    Although there are a few tours that will offer Nauthúsagil as a stop, you might want to consider a private tour. Simply have a chat with one of our local tour operators or private guides, who will be more than happy to assist. Most of these tours (whether a day tour or a multi-day tour) will depart from Reykjavík. 

    Take a Drive

    As we already mentioned, it’s possible to make a day outing to Nauthúsagil from the capital city, but we highly recommend that you add Nauthúsagil as a stop along a Ring Road road trip around the island. This way, you’ll be able to add a few of the other interesting places in the area to your trip itinerary as well. 

    To get to Nauthúsagil from Reykjavík is very easy. Simply get on the Ring Road and start driving east for about 120 kilometers before turning left onto Route 249. Continue on, past Seljalandsfoss Waterfall and Gljufrabui Waterfall, till the road becomes a gravel road. This is the point where it turns into the F-249. Keep in mind that the F-roads in Iceland can only legally be accessed with a 4x4 vehicle. Carry on in the direction of Thorsmork and you will find the ravine behind Stora-Mörk Farm. 

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    When is the Best Time to Visit Nauthúsagil?

    Whilst it’s possible to visit Nauthúsagil all throughout the year, most will recommend a summer trip. This is because the beautiful, lush green vegetation only thrives during the summer months in Iceland, and you don’t want to be wading through the water during our colder months. 

    We do have to mention that many purposefully choose a winter visit because of the unique aesthetics and great photo opportunities that a waterfall frozen in time brings. But, if you want to go this route, you’ll need to budget getting to Nauthúsagil in a specially modified truck. 

    How Much Time to Set Aside for Your Visit to Nauthúsagil

    Most spend roughly an hour exploring the ravine, but then you’ll also need to take into account the time you plan on spending at the waterfall. We recommend setting aside another 30 minutes, so an outing to Nauthúsagil will average about 1.5-2 hours, depending on your pace and what you plan on doing there. 

    Things to Do & See Near Nauthúsagil

    As we mentioned, Nauthúsagil and its hidden waterfall aren’t the only exciting things on offer in the area. Consider adding the following to your trip itinerary:

    • Going hiking in Landmannalaugar.
    • Checking out Seljalandsfoss Waterfall.
    • Exploring Eyjafjallajökull Volcano via Super Jeep.
    • Going on the famous Laugavegur Trek.
    • Visiting Gljufrabui Waterfall.
    • Exploring the Thorsmork Valley. 

    nauthusagil waterfall

    Where to Stay Near Nauthúsagil

    With so much to do in the area, we highly suggest that you stay over for a night or two to properly explore the region. You will find accommodation to fit every pocket and personal preference. You can opt for a luxury stay at one of the hotels like Hotel Skogafoss. Or you can opt for a comfortable stay with a bit of a lower price tag such as Guesthouse Raudafell. Alternatively, you can go the most budget-friendly route and book yourself a camping spot at places such as Langidalur Campsite

    Rent a Campervan for the Ultimate Nauthúsagil Road Trip

    If you’re planning on making the Nauthúsagil Ravine a stop along your Ring Road road trip, we highly recommend that you rent a campervan in Iceland. Not only would you have both your transport and accommodation sorted, but you’ll be able to go camping in style and comfort whilst saving a ton on your holiday budget. The ultimate Iceland adventure doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg.

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