North-Strandir, a remote and endearing region

itinerary

Day 1:(Thursday afternoon or evening*)


We will start by fetching you at the Keflavik International Airport as you disembark from your continental Europe to Iceland flight, either in the afternoon ,from Copenhagen (Kastrup) or late evening from London (Stansted) and whisk you off to Reykjavik (about 30 miles from the airport). For those arriving early enough, we'll be stopping off on the way at the renowned Blue-Lagoon geothermal power plant and bathing resort for a quick swim and early taste of Iceland.
Overnight place of stay in ReykjavÝk or close vicinity.

Day 2 (Friday)
We set out from ReykjavÝk on a Friday morning, heading at a brisk pace to the north, around Hvalfj÷r­ur, the Bay of Whales, where a derelict whaling station and World War II relics can be seen, and across the Draghßls Pass into the beautiful valley of Skorradalur, where we will get a spendid view of the peaks Skar­shei­i and further north, all the way up to the valley of Reykholtsdalur where we will visit Iceland's most powerful hot spring at Deildartunga.
Reykholt is one of the most important historic places in Iceland, and thereafter we will head further inland, to the unique waterfalls Hraunfossar and Barnafossar. Thereafter, we head down the HvÝtßrsÝ­a valley, across the Nor­urß River, and back north again, in order to climb to the top of Grßbrˇk volcanic crater, which produced a big lava-field in the valley almost 3000 years ago. Next, we'll cross the Holtav÷r­uhei­i high-plateau, and to the Br˙ roadside cafÚteria in Hr˙tafj÷r­ur where we will stop for refreshments.
Driving again nonstop, past Bor­eyri hamlet and the fjords of Bitra, Kollafj÷r­ur and SteingrÝmsfj÷r­ur, we will arrive at Hotel Laugarhˇll at Kl˙ka in the fjord of Bjarnarfj÷r­ur in the late afternoon for dinner and an overnight stay.Operated in a disused schoolhouse, this hotel sports a good swimming pool, a gym, a licensed restaurant and a few other amenities which we can all make use of during our two day stay here.

Day 3: (Saturday)
Setting off early the next morning, on a bumpy trail north along the Balar coast, towards the deserted KaldbaksvÝk and Vei­ileysufj÷r­ur inlets, we will have to drive slowly under the towering cliffs and hillsides and thus have ample time to take in the atmosphere of this strange and remote region.
The next sizable fjord on our route is Reykjarfj÷r­ur, where, at a small inlet called Dj˙pavÝk, we will run into the ruins of a big herring factory built here in the 1930s only to be abandoned a few years later.Halfway up the hillside for most of the way on the northern shores of the Reykjarfj÷r­ur, our trail finally descends towards Gj÷gur, a tiny fishing hamlet which also sports the local airport close by. But the most fascinating find in Gj÷gur is a cozy natural pool of warm water right on the edge of the sea where bathing "with the fish" is a distinct possibility!
Close by, at the farm of Stˇra-┴vÝk, is the famous granite stone of Greenland origin, which was brought here by the pack-ice sometimes during the last ice age. Piled up all along the coast, we can see heaps of driftwood which has been brought here by the ocean currents, seals are basking on almost every skerry, the bird life is varied and it is not an uncommon occurrence to see an arctic fox or a mink jutting among rocks and boulders.
At the bottom of Nor­urfj÷r­ur, our attention will be drawn to the very colourful mountaintops in the area, which to a trained geologist usually indicates that we are here in the core of an ancient volcano.But with the Cooperative shop, the tiny harbour and the fish curing factory, we are also in the nerve centre of this now depopulated region, which in spite of countless adversities still continues to survive.
From Nor­urfj÷r­ur, there are two possibilities to travel further to the north: One is around the Krossnes peninsula to the newly abandoned farm of Fell which also has a few hot water wells on the seaside, with one of them having been tapped and used to heat a swimming pool by the sea; the other road leads towards the farm of Muna­arnes in Ingˇlfsfj÷r­ur, which offers a beautiful view towards the jagged peaks of Drangask÷r­.
Several herring curing stations and a big processing factory were also built in Ingˇlfj÷r­ur just before and during the Second World War, only to be abandoned shortly afterwards when the erratic herring disappeared from these waters.
Since there is no possibility of a round tour in these parts, we will have no choice but to turn back to Hotel Laugarhˇll the same way, for a second overnight stay.
Day 4: (Sunday)

We set off early from Laugarhˇll, heading around the Drangsnes peninsula, and getting a good view of the island of GrÝmsey on the way, which is a renowned bird sanctuary.At the farm of Hella, we will have the opportunity to go for early morning trout fishing, or to go horseback riding, or simply to go and watch the dozen or so seals basking on the skerries offshore.
After a tiresome crossing of the high plateaus of SteingrÝmsfjar­arhei­i and Ůorskafjar­arhei­i, we will be relieved to arrive at Kollab˙­ir vi­ M˙sarß where we can stretch our legs and start looking for the pair of Icelandic white tailed eagles which have elected this fjord of Ůorskafj÷r­ur to be their permanent abode.
The roadside restaurant of Bjarkarlundur is only open seasonally for business so lunch may have to be delayed until we reach Reykhˇlar, which in former times was one of the wealthiest places in Iceland, when eiderdown was collected in big quantities from the countless islands which belonged to it. Today, it is still quite well to do, but nowadays it's wealth is mostly derived from the seaweed processing factory, which uses the abundant geothermal energy resources of Reykhˇlar to dry the seaweed and prepares it for export.
Crossing to the south of the bay of Gilsfj÷r­ur, via the new causeway, we will be exploring the Skar­str÷nd and Fellsstr÷nd coastlines which are renowned for their natural beauty as well as for their many places of historic interest.
First, in the SaurbŠr area, we will be passing the farm of Sta­arhˇll where the historian Sturla ١r­arson lived and probably compiled his monumental work Sturlunga Saga in which the feats of the Age of Sturlungar in the early 13th century are related.
Second, we will visit the farm of Skar­ ß Skar­sstr÷nd, whose church adorns some remarkable 15th and 16th century pieces, but the place is best known in Iceland for having remained in the possession of the same family ever since the settlement of Iceland in the 10th century!
South of the Klofningur pass, as we enter the Fellsstr÷nd coast, our attention will immediately be drawn to the sharp contrast in vegetation between the two coasts, from the barren grass-and moss lands of Skar­sstr÷nd to the lush birch tree grown Fellstr÷nd, which is permanently sheltered from the cold northerly winds by a continuous mountain range.
At the bottom of Fellsstr÷nd, we will lastly be passing by another historic place, Hvammur Ý D÷lum, where the dean of the Sturlunga clan, Hvamm-Sturla, used to live and where the most famous member of this clan, the historian Snorri Sturluson was born.
Laugar Ý SŠlingsdal is yet another one of these numerous places in Iceland where the advantages of bountiful hot water can be enjoyed, and it also has a unique folk museum which is well worth a visit.
Finally, we will wind up this tour by driving briskly southwards again, past the village of B˙­ardalur, over the Brattabrekka mountain pass, and having rejoined the circular highway #1 again, we will follow it all the way to ReykjavÝk where we will be arriving in the late afternoon.


Duration of tour: 3 days, 3 nights
Minimum number of passengers: 3 persons Max: 10. (Bigger private groups can be accommodated)
Departures: Thursdays by-weekly or by request, in Summer and autumn only.

The Nor­ur- Strandir Tour only:
ReykjavÝk-
Nor­ur-Strandir
-ReykjavÝk
Season:
Validity:
Price:
Autumn
(Sept-Oct.)
Summer
( June-August)

Deposit amount at reservation: 20% ;Single room supplement: +16%
Scheduled departures for 2014 : See schedules.

Conditions of sale

Services included: Four-wheel drive transportation* and guidance, accommodation in double rooms with en suite facilities,
Meals: Full-board (breakfast, lunch & dinner), starting dinner on day 1, and ending with lunch on day 3 .
*(4x4) Vehicles:
1 > 4 Passengers : Toyota Landcruiser ; 5 > 10: Ford Econoline,

Necessary gear: Good outdoor clothing and sturdy footwear. Also bring your swimsuit.

: 1 June - 30 September. Outside this period if North-Strandir and Ůorskafj÷r­ur roads are open.

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