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Matt Willen Matt Willen | Thursday 23. Julyá2009

A Boat Trip

With the exception of Suðavík, about fifteen minutes from Isafjörður, the closest town to the east is Holmavík, which lies on the shore of Steingrimsfjörður on the east coast of the Westfjords. Judging from the scale on my map, it is only about 60 or 70 miles distant as the crow flies. Yet because route 61 follows the south coast along Ísafjarðardjúp in and out of each fjord, the trip by car takes 3 to 4 hours. Have a look at the map on this page:

Via Facebook, Gusti managed to arrange a ride to Norðurfjörður (north of Holmavík) from a young woman from Ísafjörður, Victoria, and two of her friends who were interested in taking the drive to see that part of the Westfjords, which is a testimony to how infrequently the area is visited even by residents of the region. We made Holmavík by 9:00 p.m. where we stopped for dinner at a cozy restaurant with very good food and beer. I have spent very little time in Holmavík, a situation that I plan to correct in September. More on the place then. After dinner we headed north to our destination. The road north is dirt and gravel for most of the way, and follows the southern end of the Hornstrandir coast past Djúpavik with its old whaling and herring facility, and ends at Norðurfjörður. Beyond here, you can travel by foot into the Hornstrandir Nature Preserve, or do as most people do and take a boat.


Boats run to various desitinations from both the west coast of the Westfjords (from Ísafjörður and Bolungarvík) and from the east coast (from Holmavík and Norðurfjörður). Gusti´s friend Reimar runs the service out of Norðurfjörður, and he shuttled us into Hornvík and we caught another boat four days later back to ísafjörður.


We caught up with Reimar and his mate ... [Gusti, help me out here, I can‘t read my handwriting!] around 11:00, and the invited us in for a beer and to sleep where we could in their cabin rather than set up the tent for the night. Aside from being a helluva nice guy and a great host, Reimar is a seasoned captain and has a very nice boat for shuttling travelers around Hornstrandir. The boat (which I estimate to be 8 to 10 meters long and 3 wide) was built for the dual purpose of providing transport in the summer months (both of them) and for fishing in the winter. You wouldn't know that it was used for the latter when traveling during the summer. It provides very clean and comfortable transport for about two dozen people and their gear. I was surprised to see how modern the controls for the boat are. He pilots the boat via several computer monitors which provide information on everything from location and depth of sea to engine conditions.


His trips to Hornstrandir consist of ferrying people and their gear to locations in the preserve and providing sightseeing. Secured to the back of the boat is a raft with an outboard engine that is used for shuttling people and gear from the boat to shore (there are no docks in the Hornstrandir). Along the trip he talks with the passengers and points out some of the natural scenery. One of the highlights for most is a dip under the waterfall just beyond the lighthouse at Latravík (check out the photos). His website is located HERE, and aside from additional photos there is information on his trips. It is in Icelandic.


Reimar shuttled us to the campground at Hornvík, a three and a half hour trip and common destination which provides passengers with access to hikes along the spectacular cliffs on the north coast. The classic, I suppose, is the hike to Horn, which appears to be the northern most point of the Westfjords, located at the top of a 300 meter drop straight down to the ocean. We were accompanied by a group of nurses who deboarded at Latravík and then hiked over to Hornvík, and a group of day travelers.


I will pick up on visiting Horstrandir tomorrow.

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