HORNSTRANDIR PHOTOGRAPHY & HIKING EXPEDITION
10th - 15th of June 2019
Photographer: Ben Simon Rehn
Guide: Inga Fanney
Iceland’s West Fjords region is one of the country’s most remote areas and offers endless outdoor
pursuits in its mountains, sheltered fjords and bays. Hikers paradise in the West Fjords is the
Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, with its rich history and unspoilt landscapes. With no roads in the
nature reserve, the area is virtually inaccessible—the only way to venture there is by boat. Due to its
remote location it is very possible to stay there for days without meeting another soul. Doing so, you
will discover the essence of remote Iceland. The fjords are deep and dramatic, marine and aviary life
flourish, and a profusion of silence and unexplored landscapes offer an abundance of vitality for the
curious and adventurous explorer.
Even though we may not be far from “home“ this is still true exploration and the final itinerary will
only be decided upon when we leave Ísafjörður harbour. Below is the most likely itinerary but we will
take into account weather and other conditions and always look for the best possible option.
We meet up after dinner, at 6:30pm with our expedition sailboat and our captain.
We depart from Ísafjörður sailing at 7pm. Sailing to Lónsfjörður Fjord which will take 3-4 hours, and
we will anchor in the fjord.
We do not sail today but go onshore and hike towards the lighthouse of Hornbjargsviti on the other
side of the peninsula. We will now be in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, where flora and fauna rule
unchallenged and unspoiled. There are no roads in this area and the only access is by boat. Hornvík is
home to many Arctic Foxes—we will be on the lookout for their dens, where we hope to observe the
adult foxes and their cubs. From the lighthouse and the beautiful cliffs and water streams around we
find our way to the bay of Hornvík where we will find our sailboat again.
We will focus on the magnificent bird cliffs of Hornbjarg to survey the seabird colonies nesting here.
We will hike up and along the length of the cliffs, where we will primarily see in the cliffs Common
Guillemot, Brünnich Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar and Kittiwake. It is estimated that there are about 1
million breeding pairs of Guillemot in Hornvík and Hælavík. Twice every day huge flocks of Kittiwake
gather for a fresh water bath in the river and in a particular lake. We may also see Whooper Swans,
Ringed Plover, Arctic Skua, Snow Bunting, Purple Sandpipers and Red Necked Phalaropes.
We start the day by going onshore and start to hike towards abandoned farm of Látrar further west.
Látrar was a fishing village in the 19th and 20th century and it’s name derives from seals going
onshore on the peninsula. It was a village with 120 inhabitants but little by little people moved away
until it was completely abandoned in 1952. Today we will also witness rich birdlife although going
further away from the well known bird cliffs of Hornbjarg.
First hike of the day is up a mountain by the bay where various war ruins can be seen. After getting to
the top, we will be able to see two telecommunications stations built by the US military in the fifties
but only used for few years. It is also possible to relax in the morning if you don’t feel like hiking the
whole day and meet with the group at lunch.
We will be watchful for Harlequin Ducks, which are both beautiful and engaging to observe. Iceland is
their only breeding ground in Europe. We also hope to see Purple Sandpipers, Ringed Plovers, Golden
Plovers, Common Snipe, Oystercatcher and Long Tailed Ducks. Given this rich profusion of bird life,
we expect to see the Arctic Foxes that inhabit this area.
Continuing our journey we will enter Jökulfirðir and run to the abandoned settlement of Hesteyri,
where we will anchor for the night. While the last residents of Hesteyri moved away in the 1950´s,
many of them maintain their old residences and use them as summerhouses. We will explore the old
village and take a short walk along its exquisite sandy beaches.
At Hesteyri the vegetation is surprisingly lush. Over two meter high Angelica grows down to the coast,
and the lowlands and slopes are decorated by spreading patches of Wood Crane’s-bill, Fleabanes,
Cotton Grass, Lady Smock and a profusion of other wildflowers. In the rocky and sandy areas we also
have flowers such as Wild Thyme, Oysterplant, Arctic Poppy, Roseroot, Moss Campion and Thrift.
Later in the summer and in the hills, we can find Crowberries (Blackberries) and Blueberries
During the morning we have several options for wonderful runs. We can run to the ruins of
the old whaling station where Norwegians processed around 12,000 barrels of whale-oil between
1894 and 1915 when the Icelandic government passed a law on the protection of whales in Icelandic
waters. Subsequently, Icelandic companies processed herring in the same plant until it was finally
shut down around 1940.
After our morning run we start our sail back to the town of Ísafjörður. En route we may see Orcas,
Minke and Humpback whales as well as porpoises and dolphins. After approximately 3-4 hours of
sailing we will conclude our journey in Ísafjörður, arriving around 4pm.
Price: 610.000 ISK per person (4.500 Euros)
Included: 6 days (5 nights) on a yacht, guided hikes and land excursions, sailing instruction, services of guides and crew, guided paddling in sea kayaks amongst the fjords for those who want, use of stand up paddle boards (SUP), use of wet weather sailing clothing, all meals for the duration of the trip.
Not included: alcohol, getting to and from Ísafjörður
Inga Fanney can assist with getting to and from Ísafjörður if requested. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: 50% deposits will be required upon acceptance to the expedition.