Snaefellsnes

Back to the fairy tales – National sights can be seen in Iceland in miniature including the Snæfellsjökull volcano, regarded as one of the symbols of Iceland.

Places of interest:

Ytri-Tunga beach with seals / 30 min

Arnarstapi and Hellnar –  walk along cliffs / 2 hours

NP Snafellness – visitor center in Hellnar / 30 min

Djúpalónssandur – beach/ 30 min

Grundafjordur parking under Kirkjufell / 30 min

Price of excursion: 12.000 ISK 

Iceland is a place where weather can change every 5 minutes. In case of a heavy rain or a strong wind, the places of interest can be reduced. The decision is up to drivers responsibility.

Map_of_the_Snfellsnes

whale

Ytri-Tunga

The beach near the abandoned farm of Ytri Tunga is well-known for its seal colony. It´s not common to see yelow-sanded beaches in Iceland like this one. The seals are friendly and curious and will climb up on the rocks near the sandy beach. Sometimes you have to be patient and wait for them. The best time to see seals is in June and July. Altogether seven species of pinnipedia have been spotted in Icelandic waters, the common seal, the grey seal, the ringed seal, the harp seal, the bearded seal, the hooded seal, and the walrus. The common seal and the grey seal breed all around the country, but the others are vagrants. Traditionally, the seals have been hunted in Iceland from the time of settlement for their furs and meat.

The annual catch has fluctuated between four and seven thousand during the last decades, and has diminished considerably during the last few years. The seals were and sometimes still are an issue of debate between the conservationists, fishermen and the fish industry because of their impact on the commercial importance of fish stocks, the damage to fishing gear and their part in the spreading of the cod worm.

The conservationists managed to ruin the economy of the Inuit seal hunters in Greenland. Scientific research clearly shows that the populations of the seal species around Iceland are not endangered. The biggest colony of seals in Iceland, and the Icelandic seal centre is in Hvemmstangi, in the North.

Ytri-Tunga

Arnarstapi and Hellnar

In the past these were two natural ports for fishing vessels. Arnarstapi is a fishing hamlet at the foot of the low Mt. Stapafell on the southern side of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. According to the Bardar-Saga, this mythological person, half a man and half an ogre, lived in a cave in the northern slopes of this mountain. The lighthouse of Arnarstapi was built in 1941. Arnarstapi was an important trading post in the past. The cliffs along the coastline are occupied by myriads of birds, kittiwakes, fulmars and razorbills and many others nest in the area. It´s a walk of 2,5 km long.  This walk is about one hour. The lava field is called Hellnahraun, and its coast where at its westernmost edge can be found the ancient small village of Hellnar is a natural preserve. Along the coast there are some unique rock formations to be seen. The waves of the ocean play along with the sun and the daylight to produce a natural show of which the most spectacular can be experienced at the cliff Gatklettur and his famous arch rock, and the rifts Hundagjá, Miðgjá and Músagjá.

There is quite a large arctic tern colony  in the village itself. A walk along the coastline is recommended to watch the birds and the magnificent lava formations. Three blowholes, connected with the sea, open up on the way. When the wind is blowing hard from southerly directions they create fountains of ocean water, and then its not advisable to stand too near. People from all over the world, believers in the energy radiation of Mt. Snaefellsjokull , gather in the area every summer to recharge their “batteries” and rock crystals. From Arnarstapi people also hike to the top of the glacier or all the way to the fishing village Olafsvik on the northern side of the peninsula. In Arnarstapi, you can find a monument in Jules Verne´s memory, with a wood´s signal and a funny post with the distances of the mains cities in the world to Snafellness.

According to the Icelanders, Cristobal Colon didn’t discover América. In fact, they affirm that he visit Snaefellness peninsula in 1477, for learn about the Vikings conquests in the New World. During his visit, Colon was really surprised for the fact that one woman, Gudridur Porbjarnadóttit, was buried in the pantheon of famous explorers. She was born in Hellnar, and one beautiful sculpture points the place where her farm was. She was one of the first ones who arrive to Terranova (Canada) and she even had a son there. Afterwards, she converts to the Catholicism, and went to to Rome for get an interview with the pope for explain him about her discovering around the world. Close to Arnarstapi, you can find the Songhellir´s cave , taking the road F570. Songhellir is a famous cave, known for its echoes. The name means the cave of songs.

On the walls of the cave, a lot of people have written their names, some of them very well known persons in Iceland. Among them are f.ex. Eggert Olafsson and Bjarni Palsson who were by the end of 18th century travelling around their own country – quite an enterprise at the time – fighting against superstition and for Enlightenment. You may also find there runes and signs of sorcery.

If we continue our ride by the road, we will find the Vatnshellir cave, The cave Vatnshellir is a 100 m long lava-cave in the south slopes of Purkhólahraun lava flow. The lava and the cave are believed to be aproaximately 5-8000 years old. A spiral staircase has been put into the cave to enable access but entrance is only allowed with guides from the National Park. Lava-caves are formed while the lava is still flowing and while cooling. They form when a closed magma chamber empties, the crust lifts up or magma flows from under a solidified surface. Few large stalagmite stones have developed inside the cave and have now been restored after earlier damages.

NP Snafellness

The  Snæfellsjökull dominates all the area, with its magnificent two pikes, created when the volcano erupted, destroying the glacier which fell down inside his magma chamber. Today, his crater is full of ice, and it´s one most popular hikes in Iceland. According to the Jules Verne , this is the place where Axel Lindebrock and his uncle, start his trip to the center of the earth. It´s close to Snafellsjöjull where nobel’s prize winning author Halldor Laxness  located his most famous book, about a young theologian who was sent by his Bishop to investigate a priest who was reported to have lost his faith. Pastor Jon supposedly refuses to baptize infants, bury the dead or hold services, and Embi, as the Emissary of the Bishop is called, is told to listen without argument to pastor Jon and his associates, note down everything that is relevant, and report back to the Bishop. New Agers make pilgrimages to the glacier, believing it to be one of the earth’s primary “energy points.” Snæfellsjökull was exceptional even to the Vikings, who thought trolls lived inside it. (Trolls normally prefer rock dwellings.) Sadly, Snæfellsjökull — already one of Iceland’s smallest glaciers — is shrinking rapidly. Since 1996, the icecap has dwindled from 14 sq. km to 11 sq. km, and more and more rocks poke through.

Road F570, which start in Arnarstapi {suitable only for jeeps} reaches glacier, but it´s usually closed.

Leaving behind Arnarstapi, we can direct our feet to Malariff , one rocket shaped lighthouse where we can walk through the cliffs and delight with the Lóndragar pillars of rock, which Icelander believe elfs use as churches.

Continuing by the road 574, we will find two black beaches, Djuopalónssandur  (where we pick the volcanic stones for carve in the workcamp “Power of the runes”) and Dritvik. Djupalónssandur owes her fame to 4 big stones that you can see in the beach. These stones are a test of strength for the aspiring fisherman, who had to prove to the rest of the crew they are worthy to become fishermen. The weight of the stones is different: 23 kg (failure), 54kg (weak), 100 kg (strong), 154 kg (really strong). Any man who was not able to lift the 54 kg stone was considered unworthy. Dritivik is another black beach, where you can still find pieces of the old fishing vessel Elding, which wrecked on these shores in 1948 If we continue through the road 574, we will pass several lava slopes, and one beautiful yellow-sanded beach with turquoise water, Skarosvik. Following the gravel road, we will arrive to the cliffs of Svörtuloft, perfect for bird´s lovers where we can reach in a little walk the further point of the peninsula.

Djúpalónssandur is a sandy beach and bay on foot of Snæfellsjökull in Iceland. It was once home to sixty fishing boats and one of the most prolific fishing villages on the Snæfellsnes peninsula but today the bay is uninhabited.

Four lifting stones are in Djúpalónssandur, used by fishermen to test their strength. They are Fullsterkur (“full strength”) weighing 154 kg, Hálfsterkur (“half strength”) at 100 kg, hálfdrættingur (“weakling”) at 54 kg and Amlóði (“Useless”) 23 kg. They were traditionally used to qualify men for work on fishing boats, with the Hálfdrættingur being the minimum weight a man would have to lift onto a ledge at hip-height to qualify.[1]

On the beach there are remains of the Grimsby fishing trawler Epine (GY7) that was wrecked there on March 13, 1948.

Grundafjordur

Little town of 1,000 populations, surrounded by a stunning landscape of rounded peaks often evolved in a thin mist. This town owes its popularity for the magnificent mountain Kirkjufell , a beautifully shaped and a symmetric, free standing mountain on the northern coastline of the Snaefell’s Peninsula to the west of the Grundarfiord Bay. The creation of this mountain can be traced to the latest cold epoch of the ice age, when the glaciers and their rivers were seriously carving out the landscape. The landscape of the northern part of the peninsula was gradually shaped during the last one million years. Danish seafarers who frequently visited this part of the country in the past called Mt Kirkjufell “The Sugar Top”. There are 3 ways to climb the mountain, all of them fitted with strings. Mt. Kirkjufell (463m) or “Church Mountain” is one of the most photogenic hills in the Iceland. Its geology is very interesting. The lowest part of mountain is composed by of sediments containing fossils formed early in the Ice Age (1mil. years ago). The upper part was formed during the last one million years. The lava layers were formed during the warm periods of the Ice Age, while the hyaloclastite was formed beneath the glacier during the cold periods. Its present form is great example of glacier erosion.

Arnarstapi

Arnarstapi

Snafellsjokull

Snafellsjokull

Arnarstapi

Arnarstapi

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