Project Description

Snæfellsnes, which literally means “Snæfell peninsula” in Icelandic, is a peninsula situated in the western side of Iceland, bordered on the north by Breiðafjörður and south by Faxaflói. The place is called “Iceland in a nutshell” because one can see many of the typical natural sites of Iceland here, especially the volcano Snæfellsjökull, a symbol of Iceland and the famous entrance to the center of the Earth according to the novel “Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne. We can even see the volcano from Reykjavik  when the weather is nice. The volcano is surrounded by Snæfellsjökull national park and some pretty towns where people mainly lives from fishing.

JEWEL OF WEST ICELAND

As usual, we leave Reykjavik in the morning with a guide from Gray Line Iceland. Our first stop in Snaefellsnes peninsula is at Gerðuberg, a cliff with basalt columns in Hnappadalur Valley. We approach this impressive wall by climbing a small hill and spanning the many rocks on the ground. Once at the foot of the columns, I admire closely its shapes and geometric patterns while keeping an eye on the top of the cliff, where the stone seems more fragile and detached from the rest. I’d like to avoid interrupting my journey because of a stone fall. Rest assured, howeverm that the stone here is much stronger than it looks and you can even climb the columns in some places, with the right equipment, of course.

We then continue our journey around the peninsula and in the national park. On our way we stop at Arnarstapi to enjoy its amazing shores. Lovers of nature will undoubtedly appreciate the spectacular scenery that can be admired here and will most likely spend a long time walking along the old path along the coast. Not far away is Gatklettur, a cliff with an impressive circular arch. When observing this arch, one can clearly distinguishes tangled patterns on the rock, which are in fact the traces of erosion caused by waves. All around the cliffs, you can see a very pretty flora and a rich and diverse bird, quite aggressive in fact!

Let me explain: the nearby village is bordered by lawns that serve as nesting areas for many arctic terns, particularly aggressive at this time of year (June). You do not even need to go near their nests, because moving into their fields of vision is enough to launch the attack! They fly over us and try to bite us (sometimes flying less than 15cm from our head!), they shout and let go some feces with the clear aim to make us move away from the nests. And do not try to fight back! A couple has tried to chase the birds with a big umbrella and a purse before suffering a grouped and perfectly synchronized attack. The best to do is to stay far away from the nests. After a nice but scary walk along the coast (thanks to those birds!), we eat a delicious soup in a tourist restaurant nearby. Icelandic soups are a real treat and besides being relatively inexpensive, it is very nourishing. You have to try some if you’re in Iceland, it is mandatory!

In this region, there are many signs that recall the ancient eruptions of the volcano with various formations of lava and craters. This is for example the case at Búðahraun where the lava flow rushed into the sea. A place near Arnarstapi and Hellnar is named after one of the famous Icelandic sagas, the one of Bardar Snæfellsáss. The latter tells the story of Bárður, half-human half-giant who, after some dramatic incidents, disappeared under the Snæfellsjökull ice cap. They say that his treasure is hidden at Bárðarkista, a trunk-shaped mountain near the Saxhólsdalur Valley. A sculpture of Bárður Snæfellsás can be seen on Arnarstapi beach, and has been created by Ragnar Kjartansson.

A few words about Snæfellsjökull glacier. It is a stratovolcano that has been the cause of both explosive and lava eruptions, but it is now asleep and attracts thousands of tourists every year. The last eruption took place at the top of the glacier 1750 years ago, where now many people gather every summer as this place  would be one of the seven energy points of our planet.

Before going back to Reykjavík, we visit the black sandy beach of Djúpalónssandur, one of the most iconic place of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. The picturesque beach is covered by countless black pebbles that have been shaped by the combined forces of the ocean and the wind. A small paved path takes us from the road 574 through the ancient lava field to Djúpalónssandur.

All the unique forms which the solidified lava took is still dominating the surrounding landscape. The imposing volcano Snæfellsjökull gave this place a truly unique sense of drama in the Icelandic landscape! The ruins of the British trawler “Thorn”, failed there in 1948, are still visible on the beach today, proof of the unpredictable weather of the region.

We finally drive back in the evening towards the Icelandic capital city with the satisfaction of having spent another wonderful day in Iceland! I have already said it in different articles, but this country is now part of my favorite ones and I’d like to present myself as an ambassador of Iceland to my relatives and friends. If you need information or advice, please do not hesitate to ask! Personally, I have now only one desire: to get back to Iceland every single year!