Photographing Bruarfoss was not difficult, but finding it was!
When I compiled my To-Do list in Iceland before the trip, photographing Bruarfoss was among those on top of the list. However, during the 2nd and 3rd step of my planning process (see details of Six Critical Steps To Plan Your Landscape Photography Trip In Iceland), I could not find it anywhere. I remembered a similar experience last year looking for Bonsai Rock along Lake Tahoe in California. I knew I had to prepare better this time.
The second day after landing in Iceland, we went to recon for Bruarfoss. I followed the first note I found on Trip Advisor and completely failed. The note said:
- To get there, take road 37 from Laugarvatn in the direction of Geysir. After 14 km, just before the crossing with road 355, you’ll go over a bridge across a river. The waterfall is about 4 km upstream in this river. To get there, you have to continue on road 37 for 2-3 km, until you see the entrance of a holidaypark with summer houses on your left. I remember that this is on a small hill and there is a sign (maybe Miðhúsaskógur ?). Go into the entrance, and follow the main track until it is blocked by a gate. From here you’ll have to follow the track on foot (about 15 minutes walking). I think there are signs pointing in the direction of the waterfall. But if not, remember that the river is on your left
We spent more than 2 hours in a snow hike along a road called Gunnarsbraut which on the map should be the first street next to Bruarfoss. We asked the only two tourists we met on the road who told us they saw several waterfalls. All we needed to do was to follow footprints in the snow. We did but only find a waterfall called Hlaupstungafoss. I actually stayed around that waterfall for quite a while trying to figure out whether we should go upstream or downstream. During the wait, the clouds unveiled the snow mountain in the background. It was better than expected. For a moment, I thought I didn’t need to look further for Bruarfoss, because this was beautiful enough.
Nevertheless, I relentlessly searched online for clues that evening, and found a few more hints here and there. The most useful clues came from Sandy Gennrich’s blog post in Oct 2012:
- From Laugarvatn, take 37 toward Geysir. Just before crossing road 355, you go over a bridge – this is the Bruar River. Stay on 37, go past 355 and take the 2nd left at Reykjavegur which is 1.6 km from 355. Take a picture of the map next to the road so you can navigate all the way to the end (at the top of the map). Park where the gravel road ends. Walk a short distance on the grass road to a small footbridge. Cross the footbridge and stay on the path, bearing right at the first juncture. Continue about 10 minutes to the next bridge over the Bruar River at the waterfall.SUGGESTIONS FROM READERS: 1) You can also park your car directly at the bridge at 37 and hike along the river (right side) – there is a path going up to Brúarfoss – and on the way you pass another beautiful even less well known waterfall called Hlaupstungafoss. 2) If you go to the next road, you can drive to the bridge, park and walk from there.
However, based on my first try, I knew the above wouldn’t work either, because the car couldn’t get in. The only important note to me was that Bruarfoss was a bit further than Hlaupstungafoss so we should hike further next time.
It was five days later when we made our second try. This time, we were with 5 of my Iceland Photography Workshop participants. Instead of taking an unknown road, we still took Gunnarsbraut this time and parked our car in front of a road block (only people living in the holiday homes inside have code access to drive in). We hiked almost one hour in the snow, following exactly the same route we took the first time. The only difference was that we continued to the end of the street (which we didn’t follow the first time due to lack of footprints on the snow). When we finally saw the footbridge, we knew the waterfall was not far.
When we finally arrived at the site, we were so thrilled! Alas, our hour long knee high snow hike was paid off. The rest of the hour was spent along the river – it was pretty tricky to get down to the river in the snow, but compared to the hunt, everything became easy. Following are a couple of my favorite photos of Bruarfoss.
And here is a behind-the-scene photo one of my photography workshop participants took on the bridge over Bruarfoss. The photographer in red is me.