July 5, 2005. The Day of the Puffins!
Today was a big day of driving with short stops on the side of the road to have a little poke around or fill up the petrol tanks. Whilst we only covered about 320km (which if we were doing on mainland Aus, would be 3.5hrs tops – long relativley straight roads at 100/110km/hr) for the day, because this wasn’t just Iceland roads but West Fjords roads; lots of hairpin bends, steep roads, gravel and slow speeds. It is
We bid farewell to Borgarnes, HjÃ¶rdÃs and her ultra cool house at 9am.
We hopped on the Ring Road and started heading “north” for a little while before we reached the turnoff to head to the West Fjords. We drove past Baula and enjoyed noticing the change in the country side as we changed lava periods and altidude.
Once we entered the West Fjords we basically kissed bitumen roads good bye and were on dirt for most of it – as the roads approached villages we would get bitumen but that was about it. To drive safely on these dirt roads means that you stop driving on the right and follow the wear patterns of where everyone else has driven as everything else is pretty loose gravel and that is not fun!
The maps show that in some cases the road follows the fjord round and in other times goes up over the fjord, that sounds all fine and dandy. However of course to gain the alitdute to go over the top of the fjord you have lots of hairpin bends and steep roads on gravel. It was all fun!!!
Just before the turn off out to LÃ¡trabjarg we reached KleifaheiÃ°i which at about 520m presented Matthew and I with our first accessabile snow of the trip, so of course we jumped out of the car and ran over to have a scramble and a play. That was so cool!
After some more pottering around we reached our destination – BreiÃ°avÃk, which is 12km from the LÃ¡trabjarg Cliffs and where we would be staying for the night. After settling in and having dinner we piled in the car and drove out to the cliffs. These cliffs are the most westerly point of Iceland and thus also the most western point of Europe.
The cliffs were quite possibliy one of my favourite places that we visited, there were birds everywhere and “Hello!, Check out the Puffins!”
These were all taken around the 85mm mark and as you can see from the next two photos just how close we were getting.
The puffins didn’t really do it for Matthew so he went back to the car to escape the weather (it was windy, cold and the clouds were kissing the grass) I was able to steal his gloves which if you look at in the above photo are Misfits skeleton gloves :).
The next two photos show a section of the cliffs which are 440m’ish above the Atlantic and one of the gulls I saw out there. THe puffins are birds that hang out at the top of the cliff near the grass whilst the other birds roost on the cliff face.
After we had taken enough photos we made the slow drive back to the hostel, for most of the drive back visibility was only a couple of meters in front of us due to the low hanging clouds. I had seen this sign for KeflavÃk on our way to the cliffs and decided on our way back I would have to get out and take a photo of a sign that points to a KeflavÃk that would not be the KeflavÃk that most people think of when they think of KeflavÃk as they would think of the town south of ReykjavÃk where the international airport and US Navy base is not a tiny hamlet on the West Fjords 🙂