Explore the majestic mountains, deserted villages, and unique wildlife of Iceland's Westfjords.
Duration: 8 days/7 nights
Iceland’s scenic coastline is dotted with more than a hundred gorgeous fjords, many with green, fertile valleys and charming coastal towns. But what is a fjord exactly? Geologically, a fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs carved by glacial activity. In Iceland during the Ice Age, massive glaciers carved out the plunging fjords which cut into the coastline on the north, east and west and created razor sharp mountain ridges, contributing to Iceland’s majestic landscape. Iceland’s unusually large number of fjords makes it a perfect destination for cruise ships and avid hikers.
The nearest fjord to Reykjavik is Hvalfjordur, or Whale Fjord. Some say the fjord derives its name from the large number of whales found and caught there, evidenced by the only whaling station in Iceland that is located in the fjord. Others point to the old folklore about the red headed whale Raudhofdi. Legend has it that Raudhofdi was once a man that had a child with an elven woman but refused to acknowledge the paternity. The scorned elf turned him into a mean-tempered whale that terrorised the fjord, sinking ships and drowning people until a priest got rid of him. Nowadays people don’t drive the fjord often as the Hvalfjardargong tunnel makes it quicker to get around. This picturesque fjord makes for a wonderful drive though (62 km / 39 mi) revealing mountainous landscapes, rural scenery including the second highest waterfall in Iceland, Glymur, and is well worth a visit.
The East Fjords are one of the oldest regions of Iceland, shaped by glacial action in the Ice Age where magma chambers that had been 3 kilometres (1.8 mi) underneath the surface where uncovered to reveal beautiful rock formations. This area has a magnificent landscape of long, narrow fjords and steep mountains with jagged peaks. Visit the many natural harbours in the East Fjords with flourishing fishing villages that are accessible by boat or car. Some of the more remote fjords are mostly uninhabited and can only be reached by hiking tours throughout the deserted regions of high mountain ridges and verdant valleys. In the East Fjords you can experience the feeling of total isolation and peace.
The Westfjords are sparsely populated, remote and relatively inaccessible with whole areas that are deserted, creating natural reserves of beauty and fertility unknown elsewhere in Iceland. Dotted with lovely small towns with fascinating culture, that combine modern day with the lifestyle of centuries past. The region offers Iceland’s most dramatic fjords with rough and steep mountain slopes and brilliant blue seas. The extreme colours of the landscape make the summers sparkle, while winter will make you feel like you’ve stepped into another world. It is a favourite area for extreme sports such as heli-skiing and has some of the country’s best hiking, particularly at Hornstrandir nature reserve and the dramatic cliffs at Latrabjarg with millions of breeding sea birds. Have an unforgettable adventure in the Westfjords all year round.
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