The Wild West of Iceland
Every Icelandic region has its own draw for bird watchers and nature lovers, and reasons to visit the Westfjords include the millions of seabirds which use its high cliffs to nest. Places like Vigur island are also home to (alarmingly rare) stocks of breeding puffins. The region is an excellent place to encounter gyrfalcons and sea eagles, as well as snowy owls. There is also no shortage of breeding land birds, like the golden plover, whimbrel, and redshank.
Ever seen whales breaching beside the road as you drive along? Thanks to the coastal roads along deep fjords, the Westfjords might be one of the only places this is a regular occurrence. The same goes for seals casually basking on rocks, totally unconcerned by being watched.
The Westfjords is the land of the Arctic fox. These cute-but-shy mammals roam wild across Iceland, but your best chance of seeing them is in the Westfjords – especially on the Hornstrandir nature reserve, where they are protected from hunting and relatively tame as a result.
Take a view
Nature is no more evident in the Westfjords than in the landscape itself. The sheltered, crystal clear sea which fills the fjords is full of fish, and is great for diving, kayaking and sailing. In fact, taking a boat trip may actually be quicker than driving to some places.
The mountains are everywhere. Coated in lush green summer grass and myriad wild herbs and meadow flowers, they provide the ultimate viewing platform atop the world. Between the sea and the mountains you’ll find seemingly endless coast, varying from precarious cliffs to beaches of sand or boulders; variety is the keyword. Westfjords beaches are an easy walk and an unbeatable place to relax the mind and invigorate the body. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for interesting shells, stones, glass and pottery.
The closest the Westfjords gets to flat land is often the many valleys between mountains. They are worlds of their own, often with a warm microclimate, an abandoned farmhouse or two, and no other sign of human interference.