The Arctic fox is the only truly native land mammal in Iceland. It got stranded on the island after the last Ice Age and lived on birds, bird eggs, berries, seaweed and all sorts of other stuff. Over the millennia the Icelandic Arctic fox has become genetically unique: the Vulpes lagopus fuliginosus subspecies. They are white in winter and grey in summer. The Hornstrandir nature reserve in the Westfjords is the only place in Iceland where the Arctic fox is completely protected from hunting; which means they are a common sight and unusually tame.
Arnarfjordur, 5-10 kilometres wide and 30 kilometres long, is bordered by Slettanes to the north and Kopanes to the south. At its head, it forks at the Langanes promontory to form Suðurfirðir to the south and Borgarfjordur and Dynjandisvogur to the north. The bay of Dynjandisvogur is known for the waterfall Dynjandi, which plummets over the edge of the cliff. Measuring 30 meters wide at the top and 60 meters at the bottom, Dynjandi is about 100 meters high, the most impressive waterfall in the Westfjords and one of the most beautiful in all of Iceland. Below it, a series of waterfalls cascade. Arnarfjordur is one of the most beautiful fjords in the Westfjords because of its diverse landscape, magnificent mountains and the natural masterpieces of Ketildalir and the Dynjandi waterfall.
Arnarnes offers fantastic views over Ísafjörður and surroundings. Arnarnes is also a amazing place to capture amazing photos of the midnight sun during the summer months. During the Winter months the area is also nice to capture the phenomena of the Northern lights.
Near to Steingrímsfjörður and thevillage of Hólmavík, you find Bjarnarfjörður fjord, on Route 643, in the municipality of Kaldraneshreppur. Not many people live nearby, but four things mark this small fjord out as special: first the Gvendarlaug hot pool, the water in which was blessed by Bishop Guðmundur Góði Arason in the 1200s - today it is a protected national monuement. Second is the excellent Arctic char fishing in Bjarnarfjarðará river. Thirdly is Hótel Laugarhóll, a modern and comfortable country hotel with a swimming pool, a restaurant and a museum on site. And finally Bjarnarfjörður is home to the Sorcerer's Cottage, an offshoot of Hólmavík's famous Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery.
Vaðalfjöll, the mountains above Bjarkalundur, and Bjartmarssteinn are beautiful and special rock formations that you can't find in many other places. People in Reykhólar believe that Bjartmarssteinn has something to do with elves, also referred to as the hidden people, and stories say that it is their trading post in Breiðafjörður.
The most popular visiting point in Bolungarvík is the top of Bolafjall Mountain. The place offers a staggering view over Ísafjarðardjúp, Jökulfirðir and some people say all the way to Greenland. To get to Bolafjall mountain you have to drive up the road from Bolungarvík the way to the radar station on the top. The station was built by the Americans but is now controlled by the Icelandic coast guard. The route is open from the middle of june until august september. After a visit to Bolafjall, or even before, We recommend a coffee break and a nice walk at the black sand beach in Skálavík.
The road up to the mountain is open when situations in the mountain allow it to be. Usually that is from middle of june until the middle of september.
Bolungavik is a wide and short bay surrounded by high cliff mountains. On the north side is Skardsfjall mountain, 502 metres high, and at its side is Straumnes. On the south side of Bolungavík one can see cliff Bolungavíkurbjarg and further on Drangsnes, but on the west coast the landscape is milder, leading up to the moor lands of Bolungavik.
In Bolungavik there is a guesthouse with sleeping bag accommodations during the summer.
Breiðavík is situated on the way to Látrabjarg. When you drive over the mountain pass from Örlygshöfn you will come down in the creek of Breiðavík. In the creek there is a church and a Hotel, named Hótel Breiðavík. We recommend that you should stop there on the way to or from Látrabjarg and walk down to the beach. It's also quite unique to see the sand that the wind has blown all the way to the mountaintops on eiter end of the beach.
Sæunn the wonder-cow is a special cow which saved her own life from getting slaughtered by swimming over the cold Atlantic ocean fjord of Önundarfjörður in october 1987. The cow lived sex years after the big achievement but when it died this wonder-cow was buried near the ocean where it reached shore. Now this area has the name Sæunnarhaugur or Sæunn burial ground. This swim achievement was in Icelandic news as well as world news because of the rareness of cows willing to swim such a long distance in the cold Atlantic ocean.
Drangajökull is the only glacier in the Westfjords. It is the only glacier inIcelandwhose altitude in entirely below 1,000 metres. In addition to this, it is the only glacier inIcelandwhich is not in retreat (i.e. getting smaller). Drangajökull lies north of the Strandir region and south of the Hornstrandir nature reserve. Kaldalón, meanwhile, is a short fjord into which the glacier calves. The name literally means 'cold lagoon' and it is totally magical. It could be thought of as the Jökulsárlón of the Westfjords - although it is starkly different and visiting is a much more personal experience.
One of the most impressive and least-talked-about natural features in all ofIceland, Drangaskörð are a series of seven rocky peaks jutting out into the sea in the Árneshreppur municipality. Like a jawful of jagged teeth, the peninsula emanates from Skarðafjall mountain and into the water. Named after ghosts, the rugged rocks project spooky shadows which have been capturing imaginations for a thousand years.
Simply enthralling; The Westfjords' favourite front-page model for decades, and is never short of breathtaking. The biggest and widest part of the waterfall is the one that gets all the attention and the photos, even though there are impressive, albeit smaller, waterfalls further down the river. In fact, one is formed in such a way that the brave can walk behind it, relatively dry.
To enjoy, follow this simple step-by-step manual. 1. Stop your car at the parking lot. 2. Walk all the way up to the biggest part of the waterfall, it takes about 15 minutes. 3. Take a deep breath and enjoy 4. Whenever ready, go back down to the car. 5. Tick off this article and continue working through the check-list.
Dýrafjörður is a fjord in the Ísafjarðarbær municipality. At 32 kilometres long, it is among the harder fjords to miss, and even more so because of what's along its shores. This is where you'll find thevillageofÞingeyri, with its mock Viking festival ground. Between the fjords of Dýrafjörður and Arnarfjörður are the Westfjords Alps, so-named because they are some of the region's only mountains which are not flat topped. Driving towards Þingeyri over Gemlufjallsheiði pass, you will almost certainly need more than one photo stop.
Breiðafjörður is the second biggest fjord in Iceland as it stretches 70 km where it is widest. Where the fjord gets more shallow there are almost uncountable number of islands but if we would have to guess a number, they would be around 2800. Many of those islands were inhabited few decades ago but now almost all are uninhabited. Flatey is the one exception. Flatey is the biggest of the islands in Breiðafjörður. It also is the only island in Breiðafjörður where inhabitants live the whole year round. The inhabitants count as many as 6 persons but during summertime the population multiplies. Many of the other islands in Breiðafjörður used to be inhabited not so long ago like Hvallátur, Svefneyjar and Akureyjar. All the islands have one thing in common. They are all made by the force of glaciers in the ice age. The islands are mostly flat and the geological layers are similar to the ones on the Westfjords. In most of the islands there are many plants and the birdlife is diverse with puffin, eider and black guillemot being the kings of the fjord along with the White-tailed-Eagle. The history tells us that the people that lived in Breiðafjörður never had to deal with shortage of food because of the plentyful gifts of nature such as birds, fish and shells. When there were bad conditions and food shortage was common in Iceland, people fled to Breiðafjörður bay where there was plenty of food for everyone.
Iceland owes its name to Hrafna-Flóki or Raven-Floki. After a long navigation from Norway, he took land in Vatnsfjörður fjord. As a navigational aid, he brought some ravens along, which he let loose at sea, directing him to land (hence the nickname). Flóki only stayed for one winter, as he was not prepared for the cold and hardship. They lost many animals during the stay and understandably got disgruntled. In the spring, Flóki hiked to a nearby mountain top. Seeing the surrounding fjords all full of ice, he announced that this cold and inhospitable place should be called Iceland.
There is a hotel at Flókalundur with a restaurant and gas-station. A memorable natural pool is down by the sea.
The hiking path to the geothermal hot spring Einreykur is really fun and educatonal to walk. The hiking trail starts at the swimming pool and you head towards east. the inhabitants of Reykhólar have put boardwalks over the wetlands so that you can walk through the area with dry shoes. The wetlands and the ocean, at low tide, is a paradise for bird watchers. Many species gather around in the area in search for food. You could even find bird watching sheds along the hiking trail.
Situated just off shore from Drangsnes in Steingrímsfjörður, the island of Grímsey is a true gem of nature. From Drangsnes there are scheduled boat trips to the island, which take around 10 minutes. In Grímsey there is abundant birdlife and beautiful nature. We recommend at least 2 hours stay on the island to explore the island and it's birds. For more information about the boat trips, contact Malarhorn cafe.
Haelavikurbjarg, between coves Hornvik and Haelavik, is a 521 m high sheer cliff. It is named after Haell, a freestanding rock in the sea just off the coast. Above the brink is a valley called Hvannadalur. Below the valley are two beautiful freestanding dikes, Langikambur and Fjol, in the sea, with a small cove named Kirfi in between them. Not far away is the third dike, Sulnastapi, standing in the sea close to the cliff.
If Patreksfjörður town is just too urban for you, then you can escape to beautiful Hænuvík, at the seaward edge of Patreksfjörður fjord. Hænuvík is one of the best places to view the midnight sun, and it is one of the few places inIcelandwith a golden sand beach. Despite its extremely isolated location, you can stay at Hænuvík, where there are self catering cabins for up to 12 people.
Haukadalur is the place to go if you like the Icelandic sagas. If you like history. If you're a literature buff. Or if you just like a good hike. This, you see, is the setting of the famous Gísla Saga. Isolated and tranquil, Haukadalur is not very far from Þingeyri and an avid fan (or a saga guide) can bring Haukadalur valley to life, explaining which parts of the story too place where.
Önundarfjörður is a particularly pretty fjord, even by Westfjords standards. This is partly due to Holt beach, which is a sweeping golden-sand beach and dune system which curls out into the fjord and is a bit likeSpainfor a few hot days of the year. The rest of the time it's a great walk and the dunes are a protected eider duck nesting area.
This territory of the Arctic fox has been uninhabited since the 1950s. As isolated as it was then, it attracts the casual half-day visitors and serious gore-tex hikers alike. Its main attractions are three. First, the bird cliffs surrounding the bay of Hornvík, are a magnet of gigantic proportions. On the eastern side of the bay the cliff reaches a height of more than 500 metres, and the birds are teeming. Second, as there are no infrastructure and the tourists few in relation to the sheer size of the area, the sense of remoteness is strong. You can hike days on end without seeing a single person. The nature is pure and the tranquillity unmatched. Third, as the area is a haven for the Arctic fox (think hunting-ban and bird-packed cliffs), the chances of spotting one are high.
Most tours, especially day tours, depart from Ísafjörður. Hikers wanting to go on their own can also take boats from Bolungarvík and Norðurfjörður.
Hornvik is surrounded by the cliffs of Hornbjarg to the east and Haelavikurbjarg to the west. West side of Haelavikurbjarg is Hælavík cove.
Hvítanes is situated between Hestfjörður and Skötufjörður fjords in "central" Ísafjarðardjúp. As you arrive you should check the rocks at the shore. Hvítanes is one of Iceland most easily accessible seal colony, where large numbers of Harbour seals can be found relaxing on the rocks just meters from the shore.
The farmers at the Hvítanes farm have made the area more accessible by making a car park and putting up benches. At Hvítanes you can also borrow a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at these fun and playful animals.
Ingjaldssandur is a huge, lush valley facing the sea between Önundarfjörður and Dýrafjörður. Once home to dozens of farming folk, people used to get there by plane or boat. The rough mountain road into the valley is an attraction all of its own: for there are few more exciting or more scenic drives anywhere. These days the mountain-hemmed and beach-ended valley only has one working farm left. And lots of sheep. And a small church with an unusual Celtic cross on top. You may even be lucky enough to buy some of the farmer's excellent handicrafts, jewellery and woollen goods…
Kaldalón is a 5 kilometer long fjord that stretches in from northern Ísafjarðardjúp into Drangajökull glacier. From underneath the glacier comes the glacier-river Mórilla which then spreads around the plains on it's way to the ocean. Two towns were supposed to have been in Kaldalón, but the river has washed them both away. Natural beauty is magnificent in Kaldalón, and even the famous writer Sigvaldi Kaldalón took up the name because of the beauty of the area.
One the way to Unaðsdalur or Bæir it's perfect to stop in Kaldalón. If you have enough time, We would reccommend hiking towards the glacier beside the river, just to be able to enjoy this beauty. he hike to the glacier is about 2-3 hours, but it gets longer every year do to the fact that the glacier is melting.
Hiking trails lead you from Kaldalón to Jökulfirðir and then also over to Hornstrandir if you cross the glacier.
Kaldbakur is one of the so-called Westfjords Alps - the tall and pointy mountain range between Dýrafjörður and Arnarfjörður. Most Westfjords mountains are flat topped as a result of Ice Age glaciers, but the "Alps" are tall and pointy and look a little bit like, well, the Alps…Kaldbakur is the tallest of them and, at 998 metres tall, it is the tallest mountain in the Westfjords region.
the hike to Kálfanesborgir above Hólmavík is quite short and easy. The hike starts at the camping ground and there is a trail that leads you to a small cairn on top of the hill. This cairn is called Háborgarvarða. From this spot you can enjoy the view over Steingrímsfjörður and Grímsey island. This spot is also perfect to take pictures or to rest a bit for the journey home. When you walk again into Hólmavík you can either go the same route, or you can make it a loop by walking towards the ocean on the other side until you reach the old mainroad. This road will then lead you towards the town again and you'll find your way.
Kerling the cliff is situated in Drangsnes. The story says that this cliff once was a troll woman. This woman, along with two other trolls, had a dream of making the Westfjords an island. The tree of them started digging, one from the east and two from the west. The digging went well at first and the fjords became deeper and the landstrip shorter. When it was up to dawn and the Westfjords were still not an island the trolles aborted their mission and tried to find shelter for the sun. First they looked over the fjord in the west, which had become full of islands from all the land they had dug away. Then when they looked eastwards there was not a single island in the fjord. The two trolles that digged on the west side didn't like the fact that the troll woman didn't make any island so they went their seperate ways. The two you can find near the beach in Kollafjörður and the third one is situated in Drangsnes. When the troll woman realized that she couldn't find shelter she used all her strength that she had left to make one island outside Drangsnes. This island is now known to the world as Grímsey.
The Ketildalir valleys are on the southern shore of the fjord Arnarfjordur. The best know of those valleys is probably Selardalur, a very popular destination because of the sculptures and buildings raised by the naivité artist Samuel Jonsson. Samuel is referred to as "the artist with the infantile heart". When he retired at the age of 72 in 1958, he pursued his dreams and became an artist. Mostly he created sculptures from concrete and carried the sand on his back from the shore to his farm Brautarholt. In his backyard, among other things, he has replicated the Lions Court in Alhambra.
Selardalur also offers a wonderful panoramic view across Arnarfjordur, over to the 1000 metres high Kaldbakur Mountain, the highest mountain in the Westfjords.
The cliffs of all cliffs, Látrabjarg, are home to birds in unfathomable numbers. This westernmost point of Iceland (and Europe if Greenland and the Azores are not counted) is really a line of several cliffs, 14 kilometres long and up to 441 m high. And it's as steep as it gets, dizzyingly so. Safe from foxes, the birds are fearless, and provide stunning photographic opportunities from close range. Bird photography for dummies, you might say. The puffins are particularly tame and are the ones frequenting the grassy, higher part of the cliffs. But look out, the edges are fragile and loose and the fall is high.
Látrabjarg is thus deservedly the most visited tourist attraction in the Westfjords. The cliffs are easily accessible by car and when you're there, a walk along the cliffs awaits. The whirling sensation will not fade, and neither will the memories.
Látravík is a small creek in the south east of Hornbjarg. In the creek lays Hornbjargsviti, or the lighthouse of Hornbjarg which used to be a manned weathersation as well. Now all the equipment is manual and no people live in the area all year long. During summertime Hornbjargsviti is a guesthouse for travellers in the area and is a great pitstop on the way to or from Hornbjarg.
Surtarbrandsgil (e. Lignite canyon) was put on the Icelandic environment protection list as a natural phenomenon in 1975. The main reason for the protection was to pretect the fossils of the flora which was to be found in mud and lignite layers between the basalt layers. Thease plant fossils are from the tertier time.
Syðridalur in Bolungarvík is known for an old lignite mine which is situated in the valley. Lignite was mined from the mine in the years of 1917 until 1921 or while and after the first World War. The reason why the mining was shut down is because coal from Europe became more accessible after the war. Lignite in Iceland is worse than coal due to the fact that volcanic ash is one of the main contents. Lignite in Iceland only includes 60% carbon but European coal includes 70-80% carbon. The mine in Syðridalur actually consist of two mines, one on either side of the river. Gilsnáma is the one that's more known but Hanhólsnáma is the lesser known mine. Gilsnáma is more than 100 meters long but the other is around 10 meters. Inside Gilsnáma you can see some of the equipment that was used to mine, including a few hammers and a scale. To get into Gilsnáma you almost have to crawl, but once you're in the ceiling gets higher and you can stand upright. The walk up to the mine takes around 20-25 minutes on a marked trail and it's well worth the stop.
Among the hidden gems of the Westfjords are the natural hot pools that can be found even in most remote places. This might sound like a cliché, but the pools are truly a well kept secret, taken for granted, or even forgotten by locals. An explanation could be that the Westfjords are not generally considered a "hot spot" in Icelandic geology, so the geothermal activity is not as visible as it is in the north or the south of the country. Therefore it is surprising to find that nowhere in Iceland are there more natural bathing pools than in the Westfjords, the reason being that the water is of perfect temperature straight from the ground.
Some of the pools are situated right on the shoreline, with amazing views towards the sea, creating a unique experience to be enjoyed all year round.
If you've ever visited the town of Ísafjörður, you will certainly have noticed the immense rim of flat-topped mountains which surround the fjord. A notable feature of the mountains is a massive depression, like half a bowl, just over the road from the airport. This is Naustahvilft - often known by its nickname: 'the troll seat'. The story goes that a troll was hurrying home before the morning sunlight could turn her to stone. Having run fast and got back early, she sat and rested with her aching feet in the fjord. What was left was thepeninsulaofÍsafjörðurtown between her feet, the deep harbour where her feet had been, and the "seat" where her backside had been. Either that or it's a hanging valley left over from the last Ice Age. It's a short but challenging climb, so why not go up there and decide for yourself - and don't forget to sign the guest book (seriously)!
Önundarfjörður is a particularly pretty fjord, even by Westfjords standards. This is partly due to Holt beach, which is a sweeping golden-sand beach and dune system which curls out into the fjord and is a bit likeSpainfor a few hot days of the year. The rest of the time it's a great walk and the dunes are a protected eider duck nesting area. It is also impossible to mention Önundarfjörður without mentioning thevillageofFlateyri. Flateyri has a fascinating story to tell…and also a museum of nonsense.
On the southern shore of Patreksfjörður fjord you will find beautiful Örlygshöfn - a wide vista of seashore encompassing a thick finger of yellow sand, which makes the fjord water look tropical blue on sunny days. Here you are also very close to the Egill Ólafsson museum, which is a fascinating and eclectic look at aspects of life in the southern Westfjords - including an American plane and a Viking boat! The museum has been there for over 30 years and also features a café and various temporary exhibitions.
Óshlíð is the old road between Bolungarvík and Hnífsdalur. The construction of the road started in 1950s and it served the people of Bolungarvík as the only connection to Iceland's roadsystem. Since 2010 the road is not used by cars any more because of the new Bolungarvík-tunnel but people have been using Óshlíð as an outdoor recreational area. The paved road gives perfect conditions to bikers and runners that want to be closer to nature. You feel really small under the enormous cliffs that seem to be hanging by a thread 300 - 400 meters higher. Óshlíð is known for the bad road conditions due to avalanches, rock slides and stone falling. The road has also lost a part of the paved lane in some places due to bad weathers and the sea has been eating it's way into the land. Tourists are therefore advised to take care on the way and leave the car on either side of the pass. If you will drive the road and something happens, neither the car or the passengers are insured. We recommend Óshlíð especially during the bright summer nights, because you will nowhere get a better glimpse of the sunset then from Óshlíð and Óshólar. Information signs are at Hnífsdalur where Óshlíð road begins and there is also a perfect place to stop and have a little coffee after you park the car and start walking into the sunset.
Rauðasandur (Red Sand) is precisely that: a beach with endless red sand. Well, not endless but 10 km is a lot. The magnificent hues of the sand differ with daylight and weather, and the beach is the biggest pearl in a string of coves with sand ranging in colours from white through yellow through red to black, and in coarseness from very fine to sole-hurting chips of seashells. Just pure sand enlivened by countless seabirds and seals, an oasis with unique tranquility. Forget everything, except maybe getting the perfect shot of the ever-changing hues of yellow, orange and red.
Here's just pure sand and unique tranquillity. You might want to step out of the car, get the camera out and start walking on the seemingly endless beach.
If no, why not enjoy a cup of coffee in the French café and look at the spectacular view were Snæfellsjökull glacier in Sæfellsnes peninsula imperiousl rivets your attention in the background.
Reiðhjalli is situated in Syðridalur in Bolungarvík. from the end of the road in the bottom of the valley there is a slightly worse road that climbs up the hill from the Hydro-powerplant. If the road is hiked it leads you to the Reiðhjalli reservoir. The view from the area is stunning. As an addition to the hike you can take a sneak peak off the cliffs down to Súgandafjörður or even hike down Hnífsdalur valley.
Built as a school for the children of the area, Reykjanes was strategically located for its geothermal springs and ease of access by boats. Reykjanes has since the school closed down been a hotel and a camping place and a popular stop to take gas. It was however always a little bit off the main route for drivers, but with new bridges and roads opened in 2009 it is now again right in the centre. Its main attraction, though, is Iceland's longest swimming pool, intended to be 50 metres but by mistake built a bit longer. Due to the warm water from the hot spring, the pool has sometimes been referred to as "Iceland´s largest hot pot".
Reykjaneshyrna is a beautiful mountain situated between Ingólfsfjörður and Norðurfjörður. The mountain looks beautiful and stands alone where the fjord starts to scar the land. It's not that high but it gives you magnificent views of Drangaskörð in the north, the whole Húnaflói bay and then the Árneshreppur municipality. Þórðarhellir is a nice cave in Reykjanesyrna. It's situated under a high cliff and it can get quite difficult to get into the cave. The legend speaks that the cave is a hideout for outlaws.
Sandafell is a small mountain, 362 meters, a little south of Þingeyri. You can go up the moutain on a 4x4 car or simply take a little hike from Þingeyri. The view is going to be worth it.
Skálavík is the next creek westwards from Bolungarvík. People lived in Skálavík until around 1960's and since then the creek has been uninhabited. People from the area and people who have relations to Skálavík have restored some of the houses and new summerhouses have been built. In a good summer day the people from the area like to build sandcastles on the beach, take a walk and even swim in the river. Skálavík is a paradise for kids and a perfect place to stop the car and play around. On the way from Skálavík, we recommend driving all the way up to the top of the moutain and take a look at the view from the top.
Skáleyjar are a group of 160 small islands among the many hundreds of islands in Breiðafjörður bay. They are not far further inland from Flatey, which is the island stopped at by the Baldur ferry. Skáleyjar used to be inhabited - once being home to as many as five farms spread across the islands. Despite the obvious challenges of farming on small islands, the land was considered particularly good and was highly valued centuries ago. It is likely the islands were first inhabited not long afterIcelandwas settled, but nobody lives there these days. Artefacts of past residents are still in evidence - as are eider ducks and many other birds.
Skarfasker is a viewing point on the way to Óshlíð. It's nice to stop the car at Skarfasker and take a look at the viewing point and sit down for coffee. After a quick coffee stop it's perfect to walk onwards to Óshlíð.
The garden was officially opened on August 7th 1909. In 1992, a group of people decided on their own to restore the garden, and on August 18th 1996 they formally returned the garden to its owner - the Ministry of Education. In November of the same year the Ministry handed over the garden to the town of Ísafjörður to own and care for. The formal aim of the garden is to be a memorial to itself and to the concept of school gardens where the sustaining of nature's bounty and environmental education are linked to the operations of public schools. The garden is also an example of successful horticulture in such northern climes, and as such, a notable part of the country's horticultural history.
Straumnesfjall is a mountain above Aðalvík in Hornstrandir. From the village of Látrar there is an old road that leads you up to the mountain. During the years of 1953-1956 the American army built a radar station on top of the mountain and serviced the army for about 10 years. Now there are only wrecked houses, roads and flatlands that used to serve as an airport that tell the story of the American army in Hornstrandir. The Army built a new radar station on top of mount Bolafjall, above the town Bolungarvík, which served the army until it left iceland in the beginning of this century. Now all the radar stations in Iceland are owned by the Icelandic Coast Guard. Radarstöðin á Bolafjalli, ofan Bolungarvíkur, var byggð til þess að taka við af þessari stöð og er hún enn í notkun en er rekin af Landhelgisgæslu Íslands eftir að herinn fór af landi brott. Many people in Hornstrandir got a job connected to the american army, and you can only imagine what Hornstrandir area would have become if the station did not shut down. We leave the thougt for you to think about when you're in the area.
Svalvogar is a 49-kilometre circular route between the fjords of Dýrafjörður and Arnarfjörður. It usually starts and finishes in Þingeyri and takes the narrow exposed coastal track around the headland (not to be attempted at high tide) and comes back along the Kaldbakur route, past the Westfjords' tallest mountain in the so-called Westfjords Alps. Sometimes called theDream Road, Svalvogar is among the most beautiful routes in the country. It is not suitable for small cars and is best enjoyed by mountain bike. Be prepared to get out of breath…or take a 4x4.
The connection between France and Iceland plays a big role in the story of Þingeyri and Dýrafjörður. What's left of this connection can easily be seen in, the well taken care of, graveyard of the french seamen in Haukadalur. The French came to Iceland to use the wealthy fishing grounds in the 18th and 19th century. The French also had an idea of colonizing Dýrafjörður as a fishing station and a Army station.
If you're all in for the real nature experiance and the family wants to do something magnificent then you should talk to the people at Fisherman, buy a bag of fish and go feed the cod in the lagoon. You could even fish them out of the lagoon using it as bait.
In the year 1975 was put up a memorial stone for Þuríður Sundayllir, the first known settler of Boungarvík. The stone, which is called Þuríðarsteinn or the stone of Þuríður is situated in Vatnsnes where people think Þuríður's settlement was in the beginning.
When you drive southwards from Hólmavík, the first right turn after you leave the town leads you to the Þiðriksvallavatn lake. Þiðriksvallavatn lake is a reservois for the hydro power plant Þverárvirkjun, which you can see on the way. The hike is around the lake and back to the power plant. When you leave the power plant you follow a truck-track until it ends, and there you will have to wade over a small river. After that you follow the unclear sheep trails towards the Hydro power station again. The hike is about 11.5 kilometers long and takes around 4 hours. We ask you to be well equipped and be safe.
The large fjord of Arnarfjörður, which lies between the villages of Bíldudalur and Þingeyri, is entirely a nature reserve. the magnificent fjord ends in four small offshoot fjords: Geirþjófsfjörður (north), Fossfjörður and Reykjafjörður (south), and Trostansfjörður in the middle. Thickly vegetated with rowan and birch, Trostansfjörður is a very isolated and peaceful place to explore, and the derelict remains of a farm provide added interest. The fjord is thought to be named after Saint Drostan fromScotland.
The town ofÍsafjörðurlies in Skutulsfjörður fjord. The fjord ends in two distinct valleys: Engidalur to the left and Tungudalur to the right. Tungudalur is the playground of Ísafjörður - and a very pretty place to boot. This is where you'll find a small but perfectly formed waterfall, one of the region's best established and maintained forests, a full scale golf course, a campsite, dozens of beautiful summerhouses, and the town's famous skiing centre. Every August, Tungudalur is also home to the European Mud Soccer Championships.
Vaðalfjöll are two rocky outcrops sticking conspicuously out a hundred metres above Þorskafjarðarheiði pass, near Þorskafjörður fjord. The rocks are an unmistakeable sight and worth looking out for as you explore Reykhólahreppur municipality - but they are also an easy and rewarding climb with great views from the top, if you choose to stop.
Valagil is a spectacular ravine, complete with mighty waterfall and made from layers upon layers of ancient lava. You will find Valagil at the landward end of Álftafjörður, not too far from Súðavík. There is a marked footpath to the ravine from the road. Some say the ravine is named after the falcons (valur is Icelandic for falcon) which reported used to nest there. Other people say it is named after a woman called Vala who is said to have fallen to her death in the gully (hundreds of years ago).
Vatnsdalsvatn (e. Vatnsdalur lake) is situated in Vatnsfjörður, Barðaströnd. The lake is 2,2 square kilometers and 8 meters above seaa level. You can fis in the lake unless where the little river that connects the lake to the ocean. The places that you can't fish in have been specially marked. The lake is mostly inhabited by Trout but Salmon checks it out quite often and the size of the fish is mostly 1-3 pounds but you can get up to 10 pund fishes.The allowed fishing time starts at 7 and the lake closes at 22. The lake opens the first of june and closes when september ends. If you plan to fish, you are advised to get yourself a Veiðikortið (e. fishing card) and let Hótel Flókalundur know that you plan to go fishing. Vatnsfjörður is a nature reserve so fishermen are asked to leave no tracks of themselves, for example trash. Kids that are under 14 years old fish for free if you have Veiðikortið.
Puffins, eiders, guillemoths and arctic terns are this island's magnets, and they are all abundant. Indeed, as the puffins, which nest in burrows, have dug through much of the island's soil, travellers have to follow a certain path to avoid falling into one. This small bird, by some dubbed the penguin of the north, is a clumsy flier but impresses visitors by artfully stacking its beak full of sand eel or small fish, carrying it home to its hungry chicks. Being the opposite of the hospitable humans that live on the island, the Arctic terns fight to keep intruders away. Luckily, a stick held above the head does the trick. Eiders and humans share a mutual beneficence; eiders get protecion by nesting in close vicinity of the people, who collect the precious down from the eider nests. One of the every day event is when locals feed a group of orphan eider chicks. In Vigur you find the smallest post office in Iceland, as well as the only windmill and beautifully renewed houses. Since an end was put to milk production on Vigur island, the inhabitants spend much of the winter preparing the eider down, collected over the summer, for export.
To get to Vigur, there is a daily boat tour from Ísafjörður.