The Snaefellsjokull National Park – Sunday

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The magical Snæfellsjökull glacier

We woke up to another beautiful day, but I halted any thoughts of leaping to action as I had a few camera issues… having been too focused on wining and dining on our arrival I hadn’t emptied my cameras memory card, and as usual I had filled both cards the day before, and was not leaving the hotel until I had downloaded all my images… but I had also left a necessary cable at home.. causing the process to be a lot more time consuming than it should… good Viking waited incredibly patiently for me to solve my techno crisis!  There was no way I was taking a step without plenty of memory space for photographs.. finally I sorted this out and off we went on our merry way… somewhat later than anticipated.

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We headed west along the coast of the Snaefellsjokull National Park national park. The Snaefellsjokull National Park is at the western most part of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, with the mystical glacier Snaefellsjokull as the jewel in its crown. The park is Iceland’s only National Park to extend to the seashore and covers an area of 170 km² (65 sq. miles). There are plenty of other unique sites  to visit in the park such as Djupalonssandur, Dritvik & Thufubjarg.  Through time the ocean has sculpted strange cliff formations in this area. The source of the Hellnahraun lava field is a crater near Jokulhals, now covered by the glacier. The estimated age of the lava field is 3,900 years. The area features in the famous Icelandic Sagas, with the story of  Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss, a half human and half troll.

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The magical Snæfellsjökull glacier lies on top of a 700,000-year-old volcano. Its peak reaches 1446m (4745 ft) and in a clear day it can be seen from Reykjavik about 200 km away. The mountain is believed to be one of the seven chakras (energy centres) in the world. The latest eruption occurred 1900 years ago. The glacier covers the summit crater to the depth of 200m (650 ft). Due to global warming the glacier has contracted and is continuing to shrink. Some researchers predict that the glacier will vanish in less than 50 years. Snæfellsjökull became world famous after Jules Verne described it in his book of “A Journey to the Center of the Earth” as the starting point of the journey. As we drove, the Viking shared stories of his adventurous quests hiking up the glacier with some friends and skiing back down, it sounded amazing… if not incredibly arduous! Was somewhat relieved this was not on our daytime itinerary this time!

The little town of Arnarstapi is known for having one of Iceland’s most beautiful harbours  as well as it’s beautiful columnar basalt and cliff formations. The national park is full of flora and fauna. Eider is one of the most common species of duck – and make the best down available! Common seals can be seen swimming off the coast. The most common species of whales are Killer whales (Orca), Porpoises, and Lesser rorqual. 

Hellnar is the next stop in Snæfellsnes when travelling in this area. There is a lovely little café called Fjöruhúsið right by the ocean, hidden away right by the ocean and the cliffs… unfortunately it was shut when we arrived. The Hellnar church was built in 1945 on a picturesque site where a church was first raised in 1833.

Lóndrangar cliffs are 2 ancient volcanic plugs in Snæfellsnes, 60 m and 75 m high, the higher one is called “Tröllkarlinn” or the Troll. The plugs are remnants from a bigger crater, which has since mostly eroded away with time. It is thought that the rock in the slopes of nearby Svalþúfa is an isolated part of the original rim around the crater itself, with the rest eroded away by the sea. As usual the Viking decided that the lovely little viewing platform was impeding the best views… and trotted out to the furthest edge of the icy cliffs to get even better views!

Djupalonssandur is a beautiful pebbled beach, with a series of mysteriously formed rocks emerging from the ocean. Once you clamber down to the beach you can find bits of iron wreckage. The fragments on the beach partly belong to the British trawler Epine GY-7, which ran aground just east of the skerry Dritvikurflogur in 1948.  Rescue Corps from Arnarstapi, Hellnar and Hellissandur came immediately to the rescue.  They saw the crew seeking shelter on board, some tied to the mast, when the breakers of the high tide hit the vessel.  One man was washed ashore and lived.  The rescue teams could not shoot a line to the trawler until the tide went out, by then, only four crew members were left alive. 

On the shore of Djúpalónssandur, just down from the parking space, are four rocks of different sizes, mentioned in folk tales, on which people tried their strength in olden times: Fullsterkur 154 kg (Strong), Hálfsterkur 100 kg (Half-strong), Hálfdrættingur 54 kg (Half-as-good) and Amlóði 23kg (Lightweight). Any man who couldn’t lift  the 100kg was deemed unsuitable for a life as a fisherman. Needless to say the VIking was not happy until he had proved his worth… and yes… he could indeed be a fisherman if he so chose 🙂

There were many other places we could have stopped, and some fantastic hikes, but we did not have time to see everything, so kept moving around the peninsula towards one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland, Mt. Kirkjufell in Grundarfjörður. Kirkjufell (Icelandic: Church mountain) is a 463m high mountain on the north coast of Iceland’s Snæfellsnes peninsula, with a waterfall nearby that commonly features in the millions of photos you will see of this perfectly proportioned mountain. We passed through a number of small towns, passed towering ice formations along the cliff faces, and the magical glacier loomed above for so much of the journey. So another breathtakingly magical weekend was spent in the company of my Viking- the best tour guide in Iceland.

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Mt. Kirkjufell…. scroll to the end for more photos!

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