Thursday, 31 July 2014

Day 87: Reykholar to Patrekfjordur - Thurs 31 July

Day 87: Reykholar to Patrekfjordur - Thurs 31 July
Today heading out towards furthermost western point of our trip, bird cliffs at Latrabjerg. Cold, but much less windy thankfully. 4º by mid morning. Beautiful scenery driving up and down fjords. Extensive roadworks, putting in new causeways. 

Hmm, couldn't track down his story....

New causeway under construction

Lucky lucky lucky – sighted a rare white-tailed eagle on rocks with female and nest nearby! And then, another most unusual sight - screaming gulls feasting on a very long floating carcass in fjord, maybe whale??


At Flokalandur didn't see expected seal colonies, but passed beaches of pastel red, yellow and orange sand. Took hairy road down to red sandbar at Raudasandur, and enjoyed view from balcony of a surprising find of a French café in isolated spot.

This fungi belongs in Phallological Museum...

Raudasandur bar
Fortunately for the patrons, not much traffic...

On to Latraberg, sand dunes and blows UP the rocky cliffs. That's some wind... brilliant blue seas in a glorious sunny (if cold!) day. How did we get blessed with this weather when most Icelandic travelers don't? Ooh, a sign saying 500mts rocks falling - 2nd scary piece of road. 

Sand blow up the mountain



And AT LAST - on the Latraberg cliffs, beautiful puffins up close! These small auks have brightly coloured flat-sided beaks in red, yellow and blue. (Sorry reader, if we overload you with photos of these brilliant, comical creatures….) 

Massive sheer cliffs, oldest volcanic rocks in Iceland (formed 40 million years ago!)
Tried to distinguish between fulmars, razor-billed auks, kittiwake, guillemot, glaucous gulls, and common gulls gliding and swooping. Watched a small colony of light spotted Icelandic seals through binoculars. Stood at Bjargtangar, westernmost tip of Iceland, westernmost point of Europe, and westernmost point of time zone!!


Seal colony, Latraberg
Tres cool - new hat with ear flaps and pom-pom ties
Remains of stone igloo, Brunnar

Brunnar fishing village from 1620s stone igloo style huts, fish drying racks, ceased in 1880s. Drove around to other side of fjord to camp for night at Patrekfjordur, up on grounds covered in wildflowers above town. Supplies at supermarket, internet for first time in three days, fuel, high pressure hose to wash down Ozzie (third time we've found these free bays at service stations in Iceland!) Fish restaurant for dinner.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Day 86: Hveravellir Geothermal Area to Reykholar - Wed 30 July

Day 86: Hveravellir Geothermal Area to Reykholar - Wed 30 July
Still freezing cold but fortunately wind has died down to stiff breeze. Walked through geothermal field, surprised that wildflowers grow there, past tempting bathhouse, but declined when saw it was strictly no clothes! 


Pillow lava

Road improved as headed north, saying farewell to ice caps and glaciers. Passed dirty brown-yellow Blondulon Lake, with its low dammed wall and mini power station. Next two lakes were different colours, one blue (Svinavatn), one turquoise. Both are in the same light conditions but wind and clouds shift, fed by different sources, off hills, glacial melts, or springs etc. Sheep running from our vehicle, half-shed winter coat and dags trailing behind... Horses’ manes and tails so wild and shaggy. 



Back on Highway 1, left towards Western Fjords, for a "taster" trip of the land of Viking sagas, clan feuds, elves and trolls. Love their little huldufolk elf houses set into hills, and their painted rock people. Furious wind whipping up whitecaps and waves in Hrutafjordur. Arctic Tern making very little headway; great flocks of birds riding sea crests, too hard to fly into wind today. Strandir coast heaps of driftwood on beaches - mostly straight, probably pines from Norway, many used as fence posts in a forest-less country, boxes of rocks used as anchor posts. Driftwood not apparently collected from beaches, does it not burn well? Beautiful drive, road alternating between hills and beside water.

Strandir coast driftwood

Crossing to southern side of peninsula through pretty, narrow valleys dotted with sheep. Small lake with Hooper Swans and cygnets. Sudden ice patches, some in chunks fallen down hillside, some with waterfalls running underneath or holes/caves. 

Do the old babies not know about the new ones due??


Wow - spotted an Arctic fox in dark summer colours, stalking a sea bird, at entrance to causeway. Glimpsed sea eagles off shore on skerries. This turf house very "elven".....


Skerries - rocky reef, island or sea stack

Arctic fox in dark summer coat

Turned off to stay overnight at Reykholar - drove out to end of road and fishing pier. Then into main pier in town where workers were just knocking off from small factories producing salt or seaweed, fascinating to see powered by natural steam vents close to shore. Went for walk out through wetlands to inlet, spotting waders, ducks and sea birds.... 

Free underground steam
Of course you wouldn't go long way round fjord...

European Golden Plover

Black Tailed Godwit