THE WESTFJORDS (westfjords.is)
THIS IS THE most remote region of Iceland and has areas where there are no roads at all and only accessible by foot or by boat. The fjords and fingers of land that reach out to Greenland hold a range of delights, such as stunning cliffs, waterfalls, hot springs and a multitude of birdlife. And it is said that on a clear day you can see Greenland from the top of Bolafjall just outside the village of Bolungarvík.
The Latraberg cliffs are formed by a promontory on the southern edge of the region. At 14 km long and up to 441 m high it is home to countless thousands of birds that nest there each summer. This would be a great opportunity to get close to a puffin. Vigur island is also a popular spot for bird watchers.
On your wanderings you may be fortunate enough to come across one of the many natural hot springs found in this area. Many are to be found along the shoreline so you can enjoy sea views as you relax.
Being fjord country there are many steep hills and mountains that are home to some spectacular waterfalls.
The Ginger Root
On a map this part of Iceland looks like a stem of ginger root, ready to be snapped off from the rest of the island. The uppermost finger is least accessible by road and to get to the Drangajökull glacier or the Hornbjarg cliffs is a good walk in or one has to go by boat. The famous cliffs plunge 500 metres down to the sea and host many bird species during the breeding season. Organised boat trips to the Hornstrandir nature reserve are available from Ísafjörður. Hikers can also take boats from Bolungarvík and Norðfjörður. There are four mountain huts and two campsites in westerly part of the peninsula.
Waterfalls and mud games
In the middle section R61 snakes along the coastline and passes through fishing towns, most of which offer all the services and amenities travellers look for. Isafjörður is the largest of them all, is the region´s civic centre and connected to Reykjavík by daily flights operated by Air Iceland. In the summer they have Mýraboltinn which is the mud football championships (don´t ask!). Life does not close down in the winter because there are plenty of skiing opportunities and ski lifts are located at Tungudalur. This part of the Westfjords has two very scenic waterfalls: Dynjandi is the most impressive as it cascades down the mountain side in a series of steps and is found on the gravel road R60. Close to Suðavík close to R61 set in a deep ravine is Valagil, which is different in style but equally impressive.
On the southern finger of our ginger stem is the smallest of the three promontories. There are a few fishing villages and scattered lonely farmsteads. The main attractions here are cliffs and beaches. The tip of the promontory just south of Breðavík is Latrabjarg, a 14 km long series of cliffs that take a sheer drop 400 metres down to the ocean. Each summer they are home to countless thousands of nesting sea birds and is one of the best places to have a close encounter with a puffin. The Rauðasandur beach is one of the few places in Iceland where there are golden sands on the beach. The stretch of coast is along R614, which has many hairpin bends on its descent to the sea.