Replies: 8 - Last Post: May 26, 2012 5:00 AM Last Post By: nicolas1970i
May 23, 2012 1:48 PM
I'm planning to stay in and around Isafjordur (West Fjords) between the 29th of June and the 17th of July, I would like to trek from a week to up to 10 days on Hornstrandir Peninsula, and also visit Latrabjarg for the birds.
On the peninsula itself, what is the list of all the places with some sort of accommodation option (s/b, room)?
Also, are there any places where it is possible to either buy cooked meals, or restock on basics (pasta/rice, canned food etc... ?) - or do you I have to bring enough for 3 meals a day for every day I'll spend on the Peninsula? What would you typically bring?
Is the Peninsula very varied from one end to the other, or more or less the same? Are there any particularly spectacular spots that I shouldn't miss, or that are worth the trip if I got plenty of time? I'm just wondering whether it is better to do a big tour changing spot everyday, or selecting a few places to stay more than just one night, and doing day-walks from there.
Is there a part of the Peninsula which is harder - if that's the case then I should probably schedule it for last, when most of food will have gone.
Is it realistic to plan the exact itinerary from home, or will I have to wait till I get there to gather all the relevant information - in which case I'll stop thinking abou it and relax ;) ?
Thanks in advance for your help!
Edited by: nicolas1970i
May 24, 2012 5:13 PM
There are really no places to restock on food.
You can buy meals in Læknishúsið ("Doctor's house") in Hesteyri. It is also possible to buy accommodation there. You can also get accommodation in Hælavík, Hornbjargsviti (a lighthouse) and on the east part in Reykjafjörður and probably in Bolungarvík (not the town). If you don't want to hike with a tent you could plan the trip as follows:
Day 1: Sail to Hrafnsfjörður from Ísafjörður or Bolungarvík (the town) and hike to Reykjarfjörður via Furufjörður.
Day 2: Hike from Reykjarfjörður to Bolungarvík (not the town). There is one place where on the trail where you have to be on low tide.
Day 3: Hike from Bolungarvík to Hornbjargsviti
Day 4: Take a daytrip from Hornbjargsviti to Hornbjarg (bird cliff)
Day 5: Hike from Bolungarvík to Hælavík
Day 6: Hike from Hælavík to Hesteyri
Day 7: Take a boat from Hesteyri to Ísafjörður or Bolungarvík
It might very lonely to hike from Reykjafjörður to Hornbjargsviti but there are more people hiking in Hornvík to Hesteyri. You could shorten the trip by taking a boat to Lónafjörður and hike from there to Hornbjargsviti. And you could also spend more days at each place to have a day hike.
You have to be prepared for all kinds of weather, especially rain. It is a wilderness area and you should have some experience before hiking there.
You can explore GPS-tracks in www.wikiloc.com, they can give you information about length and elevation change. You can find the boat schedule at Vesturferðir, it is a travel agency and they would have up to date information about accommodation and could make bookings for you. You can find a old map of Hornstrandir but you should buy a newer one when you come to Iceland.
May 25, 2012 6:24 AM
2You can prepare for your trip for the most part from home.
You can buy good maps online, I recommend the Hornstrandir map available here:
I have ordered from this place numerous times, they are reliable.
If necessary you can arrange food drops by boat.
You may need a tide schedule depending on the route you choose.
If you do not take a tent I highly recommend taking a bivy sack for emergencies. Getting caught in fog or having another type of problem can be life threatening without shelter.
Hornstrandir is difficult terrain and and not to be taken lightly. I recommend longer trekking trips there (especially if alone) only to an experienced hiker or someone who is at least familiar with Iceland's climate and landscape. If you are a beginner, I recommend taking the boat to Hesteyri and staying there for 2-3 days and day hiking to your heart's content. I highly recommend taking the time to Google translate the following travel journal of one couple's experience hiking Hornstrandir in difficult conditions.
Despite being well prepared and experienced and having excellent equipment, the trek turned into a nighmare. Tent damage (that in itself can be life-threatening), locking themselves in a remote outhouse and then breaking a nose during a minute of inattentiveness...
However, don't let that all discourage you. The Westfjords and Hornstrandir are, in my opinion, the best part of Iceland. If you are well-prepared, you will do fine. Start researching online, get yourself a basic guidebook (I believe the Lonely Planet would have answered your questions about accommodation on Hornstrandir) and ask your more specific questions here.
My blog might help you too, plenty of information there on the Westfjords and Hornstrandir.
May 25, 2012 7:42 AM
Thanks for the linked map, I hadn't come accross such a detailed one on the internet as yet. By "old" and "new" do you mean that the more up to date one will show accommodation options that the older one doesn't, or what else will be be different?
Is 1:100 000 the most detailed I will be able to find?
I will be carrying a Garmin GPS, I'll try to find some topo maps to download, that would be ideal.
I've had a hard time locating Hælavík, is that a place just north-east of Búðir?
I've contacted Vesturferðir, according to them the only accommodation is in Hesteyri, I'm a little confused as to the status of Hornbjargsviti though. If I understand correctly though there is absolutely nothing in the West.
In any case what I meant by a place where I can sleep without a tent is one under a roof and with a bed, so that I can save on the weight of the tent, that of the mattress, and know that I can leave my stuff safely behind if I go for a day-walk. I don't intend to sleep in the wild with just a mattress and a sleeping bag.
So if a "sleeping bag" type of accommodation is only available in Hesteyri, it looks like I won't be able to do without the tent - then again it's only 1.5kg extra, not the end of the world.
By the way, are there any places where it is possible to take a shower / bathe in a pool?
May 25, 2012 7:58 AM
Thanks for the link to your blog, I've just added it to my favourites to browse it later - sounds like there should be plenty of practical information in there.
If your next trip to Iceland starts on the 13th of July we might just about catch one another in Isafjordur if you happen to go there again - I leave on the 16th.
I have the LP guidebook, at first I thought it was a little vague on accommodation options in Hornstrandir, but I guess I must have mistaken the little "emergency huts" symbols on the map for guesthouses....
I suppose the main question for me is whether it is worth going very far, doing a big tour of the Peninsula - the downside being that I'll be carrying a heavy load most of the time with little rest - or if it's just as good to pick only a few places and stay there longer: is the Peninsula very different from one end to the other, or much the same? Are there places or areas that are particularly spectacular? My main interest is photographic this time (landscapes, for birds I'll go to Latrabjag) - I'm not really after a sporting challenge in itself, but I think I'll still enjoy the isolation though.
May 25, 2012 8:04 AM
Sorry, I made a mistake, I meant Hlöðuvík not Hælavík. Búðir is in Hlöðuvík and you can get accommodation there through Vesturferðir.
The accommodation in Hornbjargsviti is run by The Icelandic Touring Association (they don't mention the hut in the English pages but it is in the Icelandic version
There are showers in Hesteyri, Búðir in Hlöðuvík, Bolungarvík and Hornbjargsviti (you will need 100 kr. coins) and there is a swimming pool and showers in Reykjarfjörður (web site only in Icelandic).
You can find a free TOPO map of Iceland here at ourfootprints.de (it works nicely in Garmin) - it might not contain all the trails.
You should also beware of little mobile phone coverage in the area so it might be better to hike with someone in case of accidents.
May 25, 2012 8:17 AM
6Thanks again Ingvi for the Topo map - that is awesome. If it's got the main trails that should probably do.
It's strange that Vesturferðir didn't tell me anything about Hlöðuvík, maybe they just forgot, I think I will take a few days in Isafjordur to plan my itinerary - after all I got enough time.
May 26, 2012 12:54 AM
It sounds like you know what you’re doing, so yes, go to Hornstrandir and have a great time! Sorry for suggesting you might possibly be a beginner, but there are a lot of beginners here in the forum and I think it’s important to be careful.
I work with the ourfootprints Topo as well. The people who have compiled it are active in a German forum on Iceland and their maps live from the contributions of others (tracks, etc.). For preparation of Hornstrandir I do recommend having a look at Wikilocks as well, as it contains some trails that are not on ourfootprints, if I recall correctly. In any case, it can’t hurt.
It sounds like you’re not really thrilled about carrying a really heavy load, especially since you are travelling alone and cannot share the weight of a shelter, cooking supplies, etc. I am in the same boat. I always hike alone – I crave the solitude and although it’s great to meet people along the way, ultimately being alone in the outdoors is the greatest high there is. I have carried food for 12-14 days and honestly have to say it’s a beast. Some people can do it with ease, but I’m not one of them. It’s really up to you. The boats that land in the various bays on Hornstrandir can also take a food drop, as I mentioned. Pack it in a rugged waterproof packsack (not a plastic bag), make sure your name is on it (and expected arrival date) and Westtours will drop it off for you on their next scheduled landing in that area. That means in some spots that it will merely be dropped on the beach for you to retrieve, unless there is some kind of warden there. Though I haven’t personally done this before, I have heard it works reliably.
I can’t answer as to whether it would be worth a long tour seeing all of Hornstrandir or not. That depends on your personal interests. I guess some people might think it all looks the same, but others who are more aware of subtle differences will disagree. It also depends on your relationship to Iceland. I am always happy just dabbling in a place in Iceland the first time, because I know I will return. I can also count the places in Iceland on one hand that I find uninteresting, so I am unique in that matter too. And I love the outdoors in Iceland beyond anything else I’ve ever seen, so that obviously also affects my opinion. Everything has its charm. Is it your first trip to Iceland? Are you planning on returning? What else are you doing apart from the Westfjords? Have you hiked in Iceland’s highlands?
Actually I will be in Ísafjörður starting July 14 through August 9 and it would be nice to meet you. Is your nickname here (nicolas1970) an indication of your birthdate? If so, then we’re just the same age. Please drop me a PN, let’s get in touch.
May 26, 2012 5:00 AM
Although I've trekked all over the place in all sorts of conditions, this will be my first solo multi-day trek in complete autonomy, so in a way I still am a beginner.. so no offence taken off course ;)
I've bookmarked Wikilocs too, I'll see what they have to suggest. Is it possible to download the tracks described there onto a Garmin device? By the way, I don't suppose it will be possible to recharge batteries on the Peninsula - Vesturferðir told me there is no electricity?
Food-drops could be a possibility, but obviously it would require careful planning, and sticking to the program. I'll have to think about it. In general what sort of food were you carrying on your treks?
It will indeed be my first trip to Iceland, and I will only visit this area (2 and a half weeks in total). If and when I return, it will probably be with my wife, in which case we would do the more famous treks, and sleep in huts. But there are so many other places to visit - last summer we walked around the Annapurnas, this year we'll hike in the Bulgarian mountains, in the future there's potentially Finland, Georgia, maybe Kyrgizstan, the US SouthWest etc....
Since my main interest this time is to try and take some nice pics I think it would probably be wiser to spend at least 2 nights in each place, so that I can then walk a full day with only my photo kit on me - I know that otherwise it'd risk staying in the bag the whole time.
I'll send you a PM a little later.
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