Þjófafoss (Thjofafoss), waterfall is located in the river Þjórsá (Thjorsa) on the east side of the Merkurhraun lava fields in the south of Iceland. Þjófafoss means “thieves falls” because, as the legend has it, thieves were taken here and drowned for their crimes. Þjófafoss is one of the major waterfalls of the Þjórsá, the longest river in Iceland.
The falls are set within a modest canyon etched into an otherwise flat volcanic plain with the lone plateau-like mountain Búrfell rising up behind the falls. The falls drop 38 feet over a horseshoe shaped ledge in the canyon, averaging about 170 feet in width during normal flow and up to as much as 270 feet wide during heavy flow.
The Þjórsá has been Incorporated into a large hydroelectric system above Þjófafoss and as a result the volume of the river at the falls has been greatly reduced from its natural levels. This does not necessarily affect the falls consistently however, due to the wet climate and significant glacial sourcing of the river. During periods of warm weather when the glaciers upstream are melting faster, the volume of the river may more easily exceed the capacity of the hydro system and in turn more water will be allowed to flow over the falls.
During cooler periods (especially the winter months), the falls will be considerably reduced, but it does not appear that they ever run dry due to the diversion. One very pleasing byproduct of the artificially reduced volume of the river is the normally very silt-laden water of the river is calmed such that much of the silt falls to the riverbed well before it can reach the falls, which allows the water to turn to a much clearer.
This results in the pool below the falls taking on a radiant teal color at times. When the volume of the river increases, the water will usually revert to a much muddier color – we witnessed such a phenomena over the span of just 24 hours, having seen the teal pool a day prior and returned the following day to see a much muddier and much higher volume river after substantial rain.
How to get there: From the roundabout in downtown Selfoss, take Highway 1 east for 29km, or from the town or Hella go 7.3km west, then turn north onto Route 26. Follow Route 26 for 44km to where the pavement ends, and immediately turn left onto a gravel road where a small sign points to Þjófafoss.
Follow this road for about 3.7km to the first of several wide pullout areas and park. Follow any number of trails a short distance to unguarded views of the falls from the rim of the canyon. – Location, Coordinates: 64.056573 -19.866328
Pictures from Rangárþing ytra and places nearby:
Inhabitants in Rangárþing ytra (western Rangárþing) are 1518 (1st of January 2013). The borders of the district are by Ásahreppur district, from the river Þjórsá in the west, to the glacier Vatnajökull in the north. The south borders are from the glacier Mýrdaljökull to the river Eystri-Rangá. In Rangárþing ytra are extensive agricultural productions. In the area you can find many well known nature resources and historical places for example Hekla, Landmannalaugar and the sagatrail of Njáls saga.
The district’s most populated area is the village Hella with 784 inhabitants (1st of January 2013). Hella’s primary businesses are service for the agriculture, inhabitants and the tourism industry. At Hella you can find, a bank, a post office, a tourist information center, a hotel, guesthouses, camping sites, restaurants, shops, a pharmacy, a healthcare center, a sport center, a swimming pool, primary school, car services, rescue team, gas stations and other businesses and public services.
Rangárþing ytra is governed by a town council, which consists of seven elected officials.
The offices of town hall are located at: Sudurlandsvegur 1, Hella. See map here. Open from 9 am – 15 pm on Mondays to Thursdays. Open from 9 am – 13 pm on Fridays.