Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The Vatnsnes Peninsula - Seals in the north of Iceland

Located about 200 km from Reykjavik, Vatnsnes is a peninsula in northern Iceland, home to Iceland's largest seal colony. The main town of the peninsula, Hvammstangi, which has a population of 600 inhabitants, is located six kilometers from the main road (Route 1), and in addition to an obligatory visit to the seal center, you can enjoy one of the restaurants, a stay at a guesthouses, a visit to a store or the pool. The Seal Center is open from 9 am to 7 pm from June to August, from 9 am to 4 pm in May and September and from 10 am to 3 pm the rest of the year. The entrance fee is 950 kronur (about 7 euros).

The Vatnsnes Peninsula - Seals in the north of Iceland

Route 711 goes around the peninsula along the coast, but it's almost entirely a track road, with only a small part of it paved. The peninsula is surrounded by the bay of Húnaflói, also know as the "bay of the bears" because several polar bears have come ashore here in the past. The main viewpoints of Vatnsnes are Borgarvirki, Hvítserkur, Illugastaðir and Kolugljúfur, a very scenic canyon with beautiful waterfalls.

The Vatnsnes Peninsula - Seals in the north of Iceland

Borgarvirki is a volcanic plug that was used as a fortress in the Sagas; Located at 177 meters in height, it dominates the region. Stairs lead to the top of this natural fortress, but the road is full of pebbles and slippery - though, if you reach the summit, a magnificent view awaits you.

Hvitserkur is a basalt formation 15 meters high, which has two holes at its base and resembles a dragon drinking water. Legend has it that Hvítserkur is a petrified troll. There is a small car park and picnic area at Ósar, where you can leave your vehicle and go by foot on the walking path to reach Hvítserkur. If you would like to view it from the top, there is a path available from the beach, in the summertime watch out for the Arctic tern, as there are many of these birds in the area at this time.

The Vatnsnes Peninsula - Seals in the north of Iceland

The best viewpoints for observing seals are Hindisvík, Ósar, Svalbarð, Illugastaðir and Hvítserkur. The best time to observe seals is two hours after low tide, and the chances of seeing them are especially high if the weather is mild. Every year in July, you can participate with some of the Illugastaðir locals, in the counting of seals. It is also a nice place for a coffee and something to eat.

The Vatnsnes Peninsula - Seals in the north of Iceland

The old farm of Geitafell is also worth seeing on the peninsula; today it is a small museum located in the middle of nowhere, with a tower worthy of a castle, which you can visit from May to September.

Iceland24 
© All rights reserved

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Tips for travelling on a budget in Iceland

More and more people are booking flights to Iceland due to the attractive prices offered by airlines, however, once they get there they realise that their spending costs are high. Is it possible to travel to Iceland on a small budget?

The answer is mixed. Yes, we can travel to Iceland "cheaply", but it involves a lot of organisation and flexibility - if you want to participate in excursions, go to the highlands, hike on a glacier, fly over a volcano and stay in a hotel, your trip will end up being expensive. There is no secret, it is not possible to see and do everything on a tight budget, but with planning, you can still see and do quite a lot.

Tips for travelling on a budget in Iceland

The popularity of Iceland has led many airlines to offer direct flights, and more and more low-cost carriers are available: Wow air from Europe and North America, EasyJet or Transavia (subsidiary Air France). By booking in advance, you can find very good deals. The Icelandic airline, Icelandair, also has occasional flash deals where you can book a round trip to Iceland for less than 250 euros.

Tips for travelling on a budget in Iceland

On-site car rental is a good way to travel -this is certainly not cheap, but it gives you a flexibility that you will not get with public transport; for example, car rental may suit families or groups more as they will spend more on bus fares collectively to travel from place to place. Moreover, domestic flights are incredibly expensive. If you are travelling alone, consider getting a bus passport, or try to find fellow travellers to rent a car together. The carpooling website samferda.is can also be a good idea.

Tips for travelling on a budget in Iceland

Accommodation is certainly expensive in Iceland. Travel out of the high tourist season (June-August) to get lower prices, use airbnb, save a few euro by staying in a guesthouse with shared bathroom facilities, camp if you are travelling in the summer time, or try Couchsurfing - even though this is difficult in Iceland. The hostels have fairly reasonable prices but it is imperative to book several months in advance if you go in the summer.

Forget the traditional restaurants and opt to eat out in a cafe where you can avail of various lunch offers. Expect to pay around 15 euros for soup or salad. Eating out is an expensive element of travelling in Iceland. If it is possible to prepare your own food, do it and you will save a lot of money.

Tips for travelling on a budget in Iceland

Going on tours can be difficult if your budget is tight, even if some agencies have quite competitive prices. But do not worry - Iceland is full of wonders, whether your wallet is empty or full.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Looking for a getaway? The isolated Vesturbyggð, in Westfjords

Vesturbyggð is located in the south of the Westfjords, Iceland. The main villages Birkimelur, Bíldudalur, and Patreksfjörður form the municipality of Verturbyggð. These destinations are way off the beaten track, but like most places in Iceland, are becoming increasingly popular for travellers. The landscape in the West Fjords is both magnificent and fragile, and so it's important for visitors to respect the local plant life and vegetation.

Looking for a getaway? The isolated Vesturbyggð, in Westfjords

Patreksfjörður has 700 inhabitants and got its name from its first settler, Örlygur Hrappson whose spirit guide was St. Patrick. The campsite in Patrekfjörður is relatively new, with excellent facilities including showers, toilets, a washing machine, dryer, and a kitchen. This high standard camping site is a good practice run for visitors in Iceland who wish to get used to camping in the unpredictable Icelandic summer weather. South of Patreksfjörður you can admire the highest mountain in the Westfjords, Kalbakur (998 meters).

Looking for a getaway? The isolated Vesturbyggð, in Westfjords

They are so many wonderful outdoor activities to try in Patreksfjörður in the summer time. You can rent a bicycle, or take a fishing trip out to sea, or just walk and admire the many birds in the area, such as the white-tailed eagle, the razorbill, the guillemot, and the gannet. One of the main attractions in Patreksfjörður is Látrabjarg (a rock 14 kilometers long and up to 440 meters high) where thousands of nesting birds live in the summer time, including the puffin. If you're lucky, you will see the arctic fox (the only non-marine mammal native to Iceland), which is more commonly seen on the coastline of Iceland. You can see plenty of seals around the rocks at Látravík, Rauðasandur, and at Látrabjarg, Patreksfjörður Fjord where you can also see whales if you go out to sea.

The valleys of Sauðlauksdalur and Rauðasandur ("red sand") are known for their large variety of natural herbs used for culinary and medical purposes. In 1758, an Icelandic priest in Sauðlauksdalur was the first to grow potatoes and vegetables in Iceland. These valleys are home to beautiful promenades and are a paradise for botanists!

Looking for a getaway? The isolated Vesturbyggð, in Westfjords

Birkimelur is a quiet community whose main attraction is the local pool, as with many villages in Iceland. Nearby at Birkimelur, near the road number 60, you can bask in the natural water hot pot, Hellulaug (N65 ° 34 '36,661 "W23 ° 9' 48.289").

Bíldudalur is a village of about 200 inhabitants that organises an annual alternative folk festival called Baunagrasið. The local music museum exhibits Melodiur Minninganna“ (Melodies of Memories) immersing you in the Icelandic pop music of yesteryear with songs that are delightful to the ears!

Looking for a getaway? The isolated Vesturbyggð, in Westfjords

A little further, to Arnarfjörður, is the Icelandic Sea Monster Museum, that tells the story of sightings of sea creatures around the local area ... Arnarfjörður is one of the most beautiful western fjords, with its varied landscapes and towering mountains and above all, Arnarfjörður is known for sheltering the majestic waterfall Dynjandi, from an impressive height of 100 meters.

Looking for a getaway? The isolated Vesturbyggð, in Westfjords

While checking out the local area, don´t forget to go visit the small village of Látravík that is surrounded by beautiful coves with almost turquoise water and white sand beaches.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved