The Draw of the West
Reykjavik Excursions tour the fantasy world of West Iceland
Who would ever believe that such a small island could have such diversity? Its geology, geography, bird and animal life, culture, history and even its weather all contribute to a land that is so much larger than just the sum of its parts.
Most visitors land at Keflavik international airport and take the FlyBus into Reykjavik. But the capital is not the country, so many take the famous Golden Circle Tour to Þingvellir, Geysir and Gulfoss – but neither is even the Golden Circle the country.
Four Ways to the West
Reykjavik Excursions offers an ever broader range of tours and here, we are going west on their four different tours to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, made famous by Jules Verne’s ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’. Its snow-capped volcanic mountain with its glacier glistens in the sunlight, clearly visible from Reykjavik on clear days.
Breiðafjörður Bay, on the north side, looks as it has been taken from a fantasy film. Dotted with thousands of islands, the flat calm may be broken at any time by a school of dolphins or a family of whales after the many fish that call the bay their home.
The Wonders of Snæfellsnes
This is a full day tour all the way around the Snæfellsnes peninsula. I took this trip and learnt more in one day than in all the ten years I had been visiting the area. The views are absolutely stunning. From mountain ranges to green plains, dotted with picturesque farms, to cliffs, packed with screaming birdlife to placid rock-strewn beaches where curious seals observe you as much as you enjoy them and seascapes, where dolphins and whales may be seen just offshore, to awesome rock formations and the massive Snæfellsjökull – the volcano and glacier towering over all, with its impressive lava field reaching down to the sea, scarring the land. There are waterfalls, fishing villages, quaint restaurants and historical sites that make this a very inspiring tour.
The tours to Stykkishólmur offer three different choices.
The Ocean Tour
For those who are keen to see the bird and sea life, this new tour specialises in getting up close and personal with nature. To see the rare White-tailed eagle, once almost extinct, in its natural habitat is just one of the experiences this tour offers. The new 12-seater boat is compact enough to really get close to the islands where gray seals sunbathe on the rocky outcroppings, the colourful puffin has his home – when he is not diving for fish to feed his fast-growing family and the multitudes of varieties of other seabirds and waterfowl nest. The boat offers unparalleled photographic possibilities and an adventure to remember.
Wonders at Sea
This tour also takes you to a number of the islands where you can also see the birdlife in a larger vessel. A unique and very popular meal is provided: Viking Sushi. A special net is cast over the stern of the boat and brings up a variety of scallops, sea urchin roe and other delicacies that you can eat straight out of the sea. You can’t get fresher than that! You get to see a lot on this two-and-a-half-hour cruise of this mystical bay.
The Fisherman’s Village
Many people enjoy exploring a traditional fishing village, this tour gives that opportunity. Stykkishólmur is a fascinating place, with many classic wooden houses from the 19th and early 20th centuries; restaurants – including one that has hosted several kings, queens and presidents over the years; a museum at the Norwegian house and the fascinating new Volcano museum, including the collections of world-renowned vulcanologist, Prof. Haraldur Sigurðsson. The views from the village vantage points are spectacular. I’m planning a return trip this summer, as there’s a lot more to see.
These three tours return to Reykjavik by a route that takes in the coastline before turning into the beautiful farming valleys. There’s a possibility to stop at one of the farms that produces the most delicious ice cream. Don’t miss it! This area was often cut off during winter months as the road climbs high into the mountain range before descending to the historical town of Borgarnes, where the tours stop for a visit to the Settlement Centre, the award winning exhibition of life in Settlement times, with recorded iPod tours in numerous languages.
While Reykjavik Excursions offers many tours to different parts of the country, the tour to the West is one of my favourites.
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