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On the magical energy of Snæfellsnes

So, I left off in the last post where we’d just stepped off a fabulous cruise around Breiðafjörður bay that was part of the Wonders of Snæfellsnes with Cruise tour.

Time to get back on our mini-bus and circumvent circumnavigate the Snæfellsnes peninsula.

We headed westward, in the direction of the Snæfellsnes glacier. As we drove along the coast, with sparkling sea on the one side and awe-inspiring mountains on the other, I thought about how the mountains on Snæfellsnes always seem to have a different hue than those elsewhere in Iceland. I don’t know what it is. Something about the light, which is very serene yet at the same time infused with a special kind of energy.

We drove through the small towns that for centuries have derived their sustenance from fishing [and still do], the first one being Grundarfjörður. This is the site of one of the most stunning mountains in Iceland, Mt. Kirkjufell, or “Church Mountain”. Imagine waking up to a view of this every morning:


Just opposite the mountain [according to our guide] is one of the most popular ice climbing locations in Iceland. Apparently there are all sorts of small frozen waterfalls in the winter, and people come from far and wide to climb there:


We made a brief stop in the small village of Ólafsvík — a place that is very special to EPI as he spent one winter there teaching when he was younger. [EPI is not a teacher, but occasionally there is a shortage of teachers in rural areas and they then hire people who are qualified but do not necessarily have the requisite training.] As you can see, it was very warm [by Icelandic standards], and some of the locals needed cooling off:


By this time we were pretty much underneath the glacier, and a few minutes later we were at the end of the peninsula, which provided us with a fantastic view:


The ice cap is still very visible seen from that side, but sadly, on the south side there is hardly anything left of it at this time of year. As a result of global warming, the ice cap has retreated from around 22 square km to around 11 in just a few years:


Our next stop was Djúpalónssandur [Deep Lagoon Sands] — an amazingly beautiful black pebble beach that used to be an old fishing station. I’ve written before about how they used to make potential fishermen lift rocks to test whether they were strong enough to be hired, and those rocks are still there for anyone who wants to test their strength. The pebbles and stones on this beach are incredible — all with perfectly rounded edges, having been smoothed by the tide over years and years, and feel like silk to the touch. Also, the sound of the tide rolling in and out is so beautiful — those stones make a tinkly, pearly sound as they roll in the surf that I could happily listen to all day long. So meditative and soothing.

There were quite a few people there:


EPI skipped a few stones in the surf:


Such a beautiful day and I was so sorry to leave. But there was still one more stop to be made before heading home. From Djúpalónssandur we drove to Arnarstapi, a small village known for its amazing bird cliffs and rock formations. I’ve been to this place many times [even spent a long weekend there once] and it just never gets old.


The birds are so close you can almost touch them — though you wouldn’t want to risk it because those cliffs are STEEP.

This mommy did not care for company:


The sea has carved out incredible formations in the cliffs:


And the basalt columns are spectacular and take many forms, like this, reminiscent of logs:


Alas, by this time it was almost 6 pm and time to head back to town. The day had been spectacular, the scenery breathtaking, and the entire tour left us elated and refreshed.

Reykjavík Excursions offers the Wonders of Snæfellsnes with Cruise tour throughout the summer, from June to August.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • JB in San Diego July 27, 2010, 3:47 pm

    Amazing photos! Now… by “circumvent” did you mean “circumnavigate?” 🙂

  • Karen * July 27, 2010, 4:47 pm

    Did Reykjavik Excursions arrange that great weather too? Wow, they are really really good. 🙂

    Great photography Alda!

  • Sigvaldi Eggertsson July 27, 2010, 8:36 pm

    “As a result of global warming, the ice cap has retreated from around 22,000 square km to around 11,000 in just a few years”

    Alda, Snæfellsjökull was 22 square kilometers in the year 1900 but has shrunk to ca 11 square kilometers in 110 (not just a few) years.

  • joeinvegas July 27, 2010, 8:55 pm

    Glad there are still places close by you can visit for the first time.

  • The Fred from the forums July 27, 2010, 8:58 pm

    On my trip to Iceland I said to my friend who was showing me around “This place is a treasure”. It’s truer than I knew.

    Alda, your English is unmistakably better than the native average, but it got that way through continuous work, so it is in the spirit of supporting your efforts rather than criticism that I mention that “circumvent” means “go around” in the sense of avoiding something, specifically something abstract. To play a DVD on Linux, you “circumvent” the content encryption. The investigations may discover that your bankers “circumvented” some laws. But you wouldn’t “circumvent” a washed-out bridge or a road closure.
    I say this with all respect: in fact, you fully bilingual people kind of intimidate me, given what I know of the effort involved in learning a language.

  • sylvia hikins July 27, 2010, 10:14 pm

    It’s the acceleration of climate change that is the important factor. It would be interesting to see a breakdown from 1900 to date that plots the pace of change. You can deny that it’s happening but , we can’t continue to live like ostriches with our heads in the sand. In spite of the big attempts by the skeptics, the overwhelming scientific evidence says otherwise. Climate change is real, is here, and we have to do something about it.
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • Michael Lewis July 27, 2010, 10:42 pm

    Stunning! Those photos are fantastic.

    I hope the tourist board of Iceland appreciate you!

  • alda August 2, 2010, 1:29 pm

    Thanks everyone!

    And thanks especially for the headzup about “circumnavigate” — a careless error on my part. Duly corrected now. 🙂

  • Sigvaldi Eggertsson August 2, 2010, 8:46 pm

    I just wanted to remind you that the size of the glacier is 11 square kms, not 11 000 sq kms as you wrote 🙂

  • alda August 2, 2010, 11:36 pm

    Já einmitt. Takk. 🙂