Iceland is a super popular travel destination currently but it is still possible to get off the beaten track and away from the crowds. Many travelers stick to the well known Ring Road that runs around the island and don’t venture further into the west.
Here in the far north west of the country is the small offshoot of sparsely populated and mountainous terrain known as The West Fjords. On the edge of the Arctic circle and one of the least inhabited areas of Iceland, you will scarcely see any civilization between towns, this area of Iceland really is the most untouched. The uninterrupted mountain ranges make travel here slow as you constantly drive through and around them, but the scenery more than makes up for the pace.
With untouched nature and teeming wildlife here are the reasons you need to explore The West Fjords:
Want to get up close and personal with the majestic orange billed black and white Puffin? Then you have chosen the right place to come as The West Fjords is home to thousands of Puffins. Head to the Látrabjarg cliffs, a 14 kilometer stretch of cliffs over 400 metres high plunging sharply into the Atlantic Ocean. Here free from predators the Puffins live in large amounts nesting in the sides of the cliffs. The best time to go is in the late afternoon or evening after they have come back from a day of hunting. Be warned though the winds can be strong and the edges of the cliffs are crumbly so stay behind the signs.
Hidden Hot Springs
Geothermal activity is active all over Iceland and this has lead to hot springs appearing with heated water literally bubbling up through the earth. No where else in Iceland are there as many of these hot springs as in The West Fjords. Many are not identified on maps to stop them from being over run with tourists, but locals are always happy to give you directions to them. They can be difficult to find but your patience and investigative skills will be rewarded when you stumble across steam rising from a natural pool in a green valley. Sink into the hot water and sit back and relax as you look across the mountains and valleys of Iceland.
With steep jutting mountains and deep rolling valleys this is really a hikers dream. Ask at the nearest town where the best places to go are, or simply pull over on the side of the road and take off down a track. You will be guaranteed not to come across anyone else during your hike and you will be able to see up close the harsh and stunning landscape that makes up The West Fjords. If you are a fan of the cold you could also consider camping and walking your way through The West Fjords, but be warned summer temperatures do not get very high and it might be a cold and windy adventure.
Waterfalls is another thing that Iceland does well and in The West Fjords have plenty of them. The biggest and most well know waterfall that is not to be missed is Dynjandi and it is only accessible during the summer months. Here water cascades down and it is impressive not just for its length but also for the width. There is steep path cut into the hillside that allows you to walk up almost to the top of the waterfall. Here with the roar of the falling water you will really appreciate the power of the waterfall. The West Fjords region boast many more waterfalls, some you will simply drive past so keep your eyes open or you will miss them.
Being totally Alone
It has been said that there is over 1 kilometer per person in The West Fjords and here you really can be totally alone. Revel in getting back to nature and marveling at the unique beauty of Iceland by taking some time to be alone. You don’t have to literally be alone, but spending a day just exploring out of the towns and writing, reading or thinking will really help you to appreciate the remoteness of where you are in the world.
If you are planning a trip to Iceland consider the path less traveled and get back to nature in The West Fjords.
Have you been? How did you explore the Fjords?