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Return to Iceland - Part 2 | Iceland's Westfjords 2022 | Photo-journal

Updated: Feb 11, 2023

Going back to my bird-watching mania, on our first trip to Iceland we had hoped to see the northern lights, and we did, nothing short of spectacular, go to a thermal lagoon and we did, see Atlantic Puffin, and we did not because our trip was in the late winter. Evidently you can not see Puffins and northern lights on the same trip unless you consider seeing them on your plate, is seeing them.

So we went to Maine in June of 2022 and we saw some Puffin from a boat. It was raining lightly, very foggy and so the photographs had a lot of noise in them from a combination of the high ISO needed for the bad light and the rocking of the boat, and the light rain.

On our first trip we did not see the Westfjords, only the “Golden Circle'' and southern coast. We read that thousands of Puffin can be seen at Latrabjarg Cliffs and so made that our objective. Our first full day in Patreksfjordur, we headed along the steep windy unpaved roads to Latrabjarg Cliffs in search of those birds. It was very cold, hat-gloves-scarf cold, and very windy as we ascended the mountainside to catch a glimpse. Before long we saw a Razorbill on the cliffs.

Continuing our walk up the backside of the cliff, we saw a multitude of feathery fauna. All of the “dust spots” in this photo are various species of birds.

Soon the wind gusts and the sheer drop from the cliffs became a little too much for me. While my husband continued on ahead closer to the edge, I stayed on a slightly easier trail. Soon I saw this fox.

On the way down I saw small tidal pools that merited a closer view. There appeared to be two birds and one looked very much like the object of my quest, a Puffin.

Turned out to be a Greater Black-backed Gull having lunch.

Somehow, the view of my traveling companion, “think of it as the glass half full” because I finally saw a puffin, didn’t make me feel quite satisfied.

Heading towards our next stop, we were reminded of the speed limit through the two house village.

The drive through Hnjotur is the only way to and from Latrabjarg Cliffs from Patreksfjordur but very scenic. As I implied earlier, the roads through Iceland are not exactly “smooth”. Aside from the major highways, they are mostly composed of dirt and gravel and slippery when wet. I suppose that one way to keep an area nice and reduce vehicular emissions is to limit the number of cars by keeping roads narrow, unpaved, and free of guard-rails. Zipping along, my husband assured me that any oncoming cars would kick up enough dust to alert us before a blind hill or curve. I was skeptical but there was a lot of dust kicked up from the few vehicles we encountered.

We decided to have tea and coffee at the Hnjotur Folk museum where we saw planes, boats, memorials and Puffin.

As you drive south-east from Hnjotur on Rt 612 towards Rt 62, you will come upon the oldest steel ship in Iceland which was built in Norway in 1912 for commercial whaling. In 1981 it was deliberately beached in Skápadalur.

The next day we got an early start. I would say the crack of dawn but since the sun never really went down, it was around 5 am. It was back to Latrabjarg Cliffs to snap some more photos and perhaps a live puffin this time.

We were greeted by an amorous couple of Razorbills.

Click here to see more photographs of the Razorbill.

We saw a Fulmar, a tubenose seabird on one of the cliffs. This bird is in the Order of Birds called Procellariiformes and is built to survive the open ocean.

After our visit we headed back on the scenic dirt road to our hotel for a delicious breakfast.

Sitting outside of the hotel breakfast room enjoying some sun and  tea.
Sitting outside of the hotel breakfast room enjoying some sun and tea.

After breakfast, we headed northeast towards Dynjandi Waterfalls. Google Maps, said about an hour and a half away but of course doesn’t account for photo stops. It’s the journey, not the destination right? We drove a loop to Dynjandi Waterfalls from Patreksfjordur. Along the way we were again beckoned by a Stoneman.

Like the Kleifabui Stoneman in the previous post that was completed a decade earlier, this one was built with leftover materials from the construction of the Vestfjörður road over Dynjandisheidi.

We continued on the unpaved highway and stopped once again in Kelfeyrarfoss where we saw a waterfall.

Waterfall in Kalfeyrafoss
Waterfall in Kalfeyrafoss

Eventually, we reached the terraced Dynjandi Waterfalls. The name translates to “thundering noise”. The area is a protected natural monument featuring the tallest waterfalls in the Westfjords with a height of 100 meters (300 ft).

There are actually eight waterfalls here, all flowing into the Dynjandi river, these include: Baejarfoss (Sjófoss), Hæstahjallafoss, Hundafoss, Hrisvadsfoss, Gongumannafoss, Strompgliufrafoss, and the small waterfalls downstream of the magnificent Dynjandi, Úðafoss.

There was so much to see that we stayed a few hours in order to take it all in. Breath-taking

Click here to see more photographs of the Dynjandi Waterfalls

One advantage to summer in Iceland is never having to worry about driving in the dark. I simply does not get dark.

Dining out in Iceland, particularly near the capital, could be rather pricey. In this part of the island, we found a bargain at Vestur Restaurant where we enjoyed a tasty, healthy sized portion of fish and chips.

The next day, we set off for Bildudalur Fishing Village on the Arnarfjörður fjord.

We stopped by for a coffee at the Sea Monster Cafe. The building has murals of folklore sealife on all four exterior walls and a giant stuffed sea monster on one of the tables near the entrance. In addition to coffee, or tea, and various baked goods, there is a small museum devoted to sea monsters.

Next stop: Foss Waterfalls and Farm. The name is a little redundant because foss means waterfalls in Icelandic but nonetheless that is the name of the place.

The animals in Iceland are free-range. Just like animals in the US have collars to identify them and where they live, the animals in Iceland have tagged ears and/or body paint. The sheep below have blue markings on their rear ends.

Another one of those unplanned stops and another waterfall catching my attention…

…and when I got out of the car I found a couple of irresistibly cute baby lambs.

And close to the stream with their mother

Driving on the dirt roads in the Westfjords makes a car really, really dirty. The windows become difficult to see out of and the tires fill with mud. At every gas station, water hoses are available to clean the cars. Hosing down the car seems to be a daily ritual for everyone.

With our freshly cleaned car we went for dinner again at the Stukuhusid Cafe. The salmon was cooked to perfection and it was indeed an outstanding meal. The fish in Iceland is not to be missed. It is soooo good.

The next day, enroute to Bifrost, we stopped at Budardalur for a snack and saw beautiful horses.

After four wonderful days in the Westfjords we headed back to the Hraunsnet Country Hotel. The rooms are nice, the beds are comfortable, and the food is DELICIOUS. As stated earlier in the blog, that wonderful freshness that comes from farm to table.

We were able to go for a walk/easy hike on the property of the hotel and from there enjoy beautiful vistas.

We tried to cram in as much as possible into our last full day in Iceland. We drove about 45 miles (about an hour and a half on Icelandic roads) and stopped at the Esjuraetur Hiking Center. The fragrant purple Alaskan Lupin flowers can be found along the trails. Originally introduced into Iceland to stop soil erosion, this beautiful plant is viewed as a weed to some.

The fairly common Redwing was seen eating an oversized worm.

The hiking trail was clear for walking with no overgrowth and it was not crowded. The weather on this day was mild and with a long-sleeved shirt or lightweight sweatshirt we were warm enough.

On the trail
On the trail

Back in the car, we headed towards Tjörnin Lake in Reykjavik. Having been there in 2019 we knew to expect a large number of ducks, geese and swans. Seeing it in late spring with flowers blossoming was quite different than in the early spring with snow and ice.

Unlike the Mute Swan in the United States, which does not make any noise, the Whooper Swan is really really loud.

We spent the last night on the southern peninsula in Reykjanesbaer which is about 20 minutes from the airport. We had an early flight to Scotland the following day. The Duus hotel offered us a room with a balcony, which was really nice, since it was actually warm enough to sit out there. The attached restaurant worked out perfectly since it started to rain at dinner time. A nice breakfast buffet was included.

Of course we had to walk around the town and when we did we saw some impressive Street Art.

I decided to process the next photo in black and white since the mural was painted in black and white.

To see more photographs of Icelandic Street Art CLICK HERE

I hoped you enjoyed our return to Iceland and that you join us when we visit Scotland in our next Blog Segment

In case you missed our previous blog segment “Return to Iceland 2022 - Different season - Photojournal”, click on the link below

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To read about my first trip to Iceland:

Iceland - Land of Fire and Ice - Photojournal

Iceland continues....A photojournal of my last 3 days in Iceland

To see more photographs of Iceland:

What to pack for late May/ early June

  • Fleece-lined rain-jacket

  • sweatshirt

  • down or thermalight vest

  • sweater

  • lightweight long sleeve top

  • jeans with stretch for hiking or hiking pants

  • hiking shoes

  • wool socks

  • wool hat

  • gloves

  • scarf

  • camera

  • bathing suit for thermal lagoons

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