When it comes to travel, part of the fun is getting there and this is especially true of Gray Line Iceland’s outstanding ‘Edge of Iceland’ tour to the Látrabjarg Cliffs in the Westfjords. From Reykjavik, the coach travels to the picturesque town of Stykkishólmur where you board the ‘Baldur’ car ferry for the 3-hour crossing of the scenic Breiðafjörður fjord, with its thousands of islands and flourishing birdlife. Have lunch (not included) in the ferry’s cafeteria while enjoying the view. Next stop is Hnjótur, where there is time to visit the folk museum, discover how locals collected seabird eggs and learn about the courageous and daring rescue of twelve seamen from the shipwrecked Dhoon, a British trawler that ran aground 500m from the cliffs on 12th December, 1947 in treacherous weather.
Standing on the great sheer cliffs at Látrabjarg, looking out over the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, one cannot help but be in awe. After all, it is not every day that you come face to face with the mother of all cliffs that is Iceland and Europe’s westernmost point. On a clear day you can see all the way to Greenland, just 278km (138mi) away. Impressive to say the least!
Posing Puffins steal the show
The highest point at Látrabjarg is a dizzying 441m (1,447ft) high and the cliffs stretch over 14km (8.6mi) in length. The sheer number of birds is also dizzying—razorbills, guillemots, fulmars and puffins make this cliff their summer nesting grounds and arrive by the thousands every year from May to August. Impressive also is the way these birds so skilfully organise themselves on the face of the cliff—each tier is home to a specific type of bird. The very bottom of the cliff is inhabited by razorbills. Then come the fulmars that prefer the grassy lower ledges, and above them are the kittiwakes. Next up come the guillemots and then another layer of fulmars and razorbills. At the very top of the cliff, the adorable puffins lay their eggs in burrows and, luckily for us, they just happen to be especially tame. They seem to love to pose for pictures, and you can often get within a few feet of them, but be careful not to venture too close to the edge of the cliff, as sometimes they have burrowed underneath the turf, making it very unstable.
The journey home
Finally the time has come to start the journey back to Reykjavik, and there is not one of us on this tour who has not been humbled by the immensity of Látrabjarg and all those who have been touched by the magnitude of its beauty and its power.
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters,
These see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep.
Psalms of David
Westman Islands Tour
Just off the south coast of Iceland lie the Westman Islands, an archipelago of volcanic origin, surrounded by crystal-clear turquoise waters and brimming with colourful puffins, still-warm lava and an archaeological dig—all the elements you need for a truly exciting tour.
Puffins, Pirates, Volcanoes and a Singing Cave
Our coach takes us down along the south coast, through villages and farmlands with glaciers and volcanoes visible in the distance. The famous Eyjafjallajökull glacier provides for a quick stop for photos before we reach the harbour from where ferries cross the short stretch of sea separating us from the Westman Islands. The pleasant 30-minute crossing brings us into the sheltered harbour of Heimaey where we are greeted by the friendly folk at Viking Tours—native Westman Islanders, who will be our guides for a 90-minute boat tour around the archipelago. Highlights include the teeming bird life that nest high in the cliffs above and the hauntingly beautiful live music that fills the singing sea cave of Klettishellir.
Back at Heimaey, we stop for an included light lunch at Kaffi Kro and then take a coach tour around the island where we learn some of its history, visit a real pirate’s cove, observe puffins and walk on still-warm lava from the 1973 eruption. Before heading back to Reykjavik, we have two hours of free time to do some exploring on our own—the recently-opened Eldheimar Museum (included) and the top notch Einsi Kaldi Restaurant are worth a visit.
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