Today was always going to be one of our longest, most arduous, and most adventurous days. We were heading deep into the West Fjords, the most remote region of Iceland, Way after the recommended time window for the Fjords as winter was setting in pretty quickly.
The Drive was 353km so not as long as our East Fjord Drive on Day 7 (405km) but the roads are much narrower, much windier, and most of them not even paved, so the time on the road was going to be much greater.
We were also getting all kinds of weather warnings through Vendur.is and from Blue Car Rental who helpfully forward weather warnings from the government. These warnings were mainly about wind and did not seem to limit our planned progress into the Fjords. We had backup plans in case heavy snow or other adverse weather had been forecast, but the warnings were for really high winds and only a touch of precipitation and that we could handle.
The Predicted bad weather was a direct hit from an Ex-hurricane Sam which was breaking up and mixing with other weather systems around Iceland but still had a lot of energy to depart!
So we packed up, had breakfast at the Northwest Restaurant, and headed out on our Epic West Fjord Road Trip.
This really was a day on the road and not that much to report really. We followed the Ring Road until the route 68 turn-off. The weather was still calm and light so we made the turn and headed for the wilderness.
The First section follows Hrútafjörður and Húnaflói bay, this section is pretty and quite benign, with long straight roads and gentle rises, but large parts are gravel roads. After this, your skirt around a couple of Fjords that require some pretty gnarly climbs up and down some mountain passes. The Descent down towards Fjardharhorn was particularly exciting!
The road flattens out again as you approach the final piece of civilization for a while, Hólmavík. We Stopped here for some snacks and to top up the tank. On this part of the Island, we figured it best not to pass a Fuel station without topping up!
From here the road goes up, it climbs up through a valley and then over a very exposed and wild plateau. On this day winds were blowing at 80-100 km/h (50-60mph) and the road was covered in black ice with snow and ice on either side of the thin black strip of tarmac. We had scarcely seen a car in hours and things felt exhilaratingly wild.
We just took things slow and plodded along until the road began descending off the plateau, down into the northern parts of the West Fjords. Here the road covers 180 km to Ísafjörður while actually only traveling 40km as the crow flies. This is caused by the endless meandering around the various Fjords.
This is possibly the most scenic place we have ever visited, in a land of stunning scenery the west fjords took it up and notch. The weather was brutal but the cloud cover was just high enough the see the peaks and visibility was good.
The howling wind and crashing waves only added to the stunning wild landscape and just made the journey all the more adventurous. Gusts would blow across the Fjords picking up rafts of white water as they went allowing you to track the most violent winds across the water. There was even a vortex that formed in the middle of one fjord forming a funnel cloud that inched down towards the water, it was literally feet from making contact and becoming a water spout!
The one thing we found really stunning was the blue glow of the water. Out towards the deeper oceans, the seas were a menacing steely blue, but the fjords glowed a topaz blue quite unlike anything we have ever seen under such dull cloudy skies. They almost seem luminescent. Glowing away with their own source of light. The whole area is so majestic.
As we neared the town of Sudavik we passed around a Fjord named Skotufjordur, when we spotted something really unexpected. I have mentioned this before as a bit of a joke to Kate, something to keep an eye out for, to pass the time more than it being something I really thought we might see. When I saw the first spout, I wrote it off, must have just been sprayed from a gust of wind. Same with the second, and the third. But the spouts kept breaking. And when we saw the large hulking great shapes and finally a Fluke rising as the beast dived we realized there were Humpbacks feeding in the Fjord!
We pulled over and watched for a few feeding cycles. As on the tour yesterday they hunt for several minutes before coming up to breathe. resting on the surface for a few moments before diving again with the flash of their Tail Fluke. We found out after from the Guesthouse owners that there were up to 20 whales in the area over the last few days hunting a bonanza of shrimps that were in the fjord
We know we are very lucky with our whale sightings, yesterday was a total win as far as whale watching goes but to just stumble across them in a Fjord was mindblowing. several cars passed as we watch…none stopped, none seemed to notice the miracle happening besides them!
With this, we were nearly at the Guesthouse. We had finally broken the practice of staying in hotels and had a nice guesthouse booked for the evening. This meant we could actually cook our own dinner, lucky as dining options are limited out here.
So we pulled into the guesthouse. There was no one there but the key is in a box with the code provided. The large house has three bedrooms and two other couples would be joining us later.
We headed into Ísafjörður for some shopping and to check out this most remote of towns.
We Picked up some Icelandic Cod and Arctic Char which we prepared with Rice and Stirfried Veggies. It was nice to have a good meal with fresh veg and not fork out a small fortune for it.
We then headed back to the Guesthouse for a relaxing evening. Making sure we informed our new guesthouse friends where they could find the Whales tomorrow.
Heavy Cloud and low KPIs meant Aurora was a no-go for tonight.
Live Blog – Trip Report
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