The journey to Hornstrandir begins by traveling to Isafjordur, the biggest town in the West Fjords. I like to fly into Isafjordur because the flight is an experience in itself (the landing strip in Isafjordur is surrounded by mountains on three sides!). You can get an idea by looking at this photo I took in 2006:
However, this time my flight to Isafjordur did not go well - bad weather and lots of turbulence. We tried to land in Isafjordur but there were strong winds. We were within feet of touching the runway... when the pilot aborted and pulled up. I think you can understand what a scary/thrilling experience that was when you look at the photo above. The woman in the seat in front of me got sick. After that we flew back to Reykjavik.
The airline put me up in a hotel with some of the other passengers and we all went out for dinner together which was nice. The next day the weather improved and although everyone was still feeling nervous from the previous attempt, the flight was successful. So in the end I got two flights for the price of one!
Hornstrandir is a remote peninsula that is only accessible by boat. The boat takes about an hour or so from Isafjordur, and the seas can be pretty rough so often people get seasick. Fortunately, I had great weather so that wasn't a problem (and it didn't hurt the views either!).
My destination in Hornstrandir was the abandoned fishing and whaling village Hesteyri. There are only 3 people living there today (apart from the many hikers who pass through). They operate a guesthouse called the Old Doctor's House, where they cater to hikers as well as passengers who pass through on cruise ships doing day trips. Since this is the only guesthouse in Hornstrandir and I did not wish to bring a tent, I made my base here and did day hikes from here. It was a beautiful setting.
The first hike I did was along the coast to the lighthouse at Slett�. Along the way you can get nice views of the fjords, although these are similar to the views I got from the boat yesterday, and the weather was not as favourable today.
One awesome thing about hiking in Hornstrandir is the wild blueberries and crowberries. There are fields of delicious blueberries, with the odd mushroom sticking up here and there. By the time the day was over, my hands and lips were purple and I had a waterbottle full of blueberries for dessert.
The next day, I hiked up the mountain directly behind Hesteyri over the pass to Adalvik. Here are some of the photos from this hike.
Very close to Hesteyri, there is an abandoned whaling station that is crumbling and overgrown. Before you get there, you come across a waterfall and scenic views looking back at Hesteyri.
Overall I had a wonderful time at Hesteyri. Although it can be expensive (and a bit of an adventure) getting there, it was worth it for the stunning scenery, the easy "low-risk" hiking (if the weather's no good, just hang out in the guesthouse), and for the company - sharing stories with the owners of the guesthouse and other hikers over candlelight while hoping for the northern lights to appear... I would definitely consider returning one day.
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