Bjarnafoss was a tall waterfall tumbling right behind the small farming hamlet of Buðir. I had read there was a legend saying that underneath the waterfall stood the “Lady of the Mountains” (Fjallkonan) though we weren’t particularly looking for this so we couldn’t see for ourselves. However, we did notice upon closer inspection that there were basalt columns near the bottom of the main section of the falls. That was further evidence to us of the interplay of lava and ice, which seemed to be a very common theme throughout our visit to Iceland.
I guess the lava connection shouldn’t have been surprising because nearby the falls was the Mælifell volcano. Apparently the cliff where the falls made its plunge was also part of the slope of that volcano. Even though we didn’t know it at the time, we probably should have found a way to walk or drive further south (possibly on the Buðarvegur) to get a more contextual look at both Mælifell and Bjarnafoss together. Instead, all the photos you see on this page reflect more closeup views of the falls from right off the road 54.
As I was trying to figure out the meaning of the name of this waterfall, the closest word I could find in my Icelandic dictionary was “bjarndyr” meaning “bear” (even though the more familiar word “björn” also meant “bear”). Thus, I suspect this falls could be translated to mean “Bear Falls” though I wonder how that came about given that there were no bears that we know of that exist in Iceland.
We saw this waterfall at the junction of route 54 and 574 on the western end of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. It is roughly 20km south of Ólafsvík along the Routes 29 and 54. Alternatively, the west approach along route 574 is about 99km northwest of Borgarnes or 166km (over 2 hours drive) north of Reykjavik.
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