Iceland in a Nutshell: The Snaefellsnes Peninsula
This post is late and out of order . . . I don’t even know where to start – we saw so much during a very long day spent driving around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. They say you can see all of Iceland’s various typographies with a visit here, and while I can’t make that claim, I can say we had a real variety of experiences.
The landscape en route from Reykjavik was quite varied, and we experienced a misty intermittent rain. Colors changed from brown to a soft yellow and you can see every shade of green painting the surrounding mountain slopes.
Water is everywhere, snow caps, the peaks, and fills the crevices. I can’t even begin to guess how many waterfalls there are. The two-lane road is outlined with yellow (snow) markers on both sides and provides a good visual, particularly when there is no other traffic.
We passed Borganes and continued to our first stop at Ytri-Tunga beach where seals are known to hang out. It was cold and windy. There were a few seals way off in the distance. Sightseers several decades younger than us were headed out on the slippery rocks to get a closer view. We stayed beach-side and just took in the whole scene. The skeletal remains of a whale (or very large seal) was laid out like a work of art.
I had to snap a pic at Budir of their famous black church. Nothing else is there except a hotel and the church – but it has become one of Iceland’s iconic visuals. We grabbed lunch at Arnarstapi and saw some basalt formations and nesting terns. The more hardy would hike along the coast towards Hollmar for even better views of the seaside rock formations.
Snaefellsjokull National Park is known for its imposing glacier, which dominates the entire center of the park. On this day the cloud-covered peak must’ve made tough conditions for the glacier hikers. At the entrance to the park, the Malarrif Lighthouse serves as a visitor Information Center with maps and displays. We did not plan to visit Vatnshellir Cave which goes 115’ slippery feet underground (only with a guide). It was enough for me to know it inspired Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”
Coming around the western tip of the peninsula we saw the tallest structure in Iceland, a communications tower key to offshore shipping and quaint fishing villages. All a lead-up to a highlight of the day, Kirkufell and Kirkjufellsfoss.
Kirkufell is the famous arrowhead-shaped mountain seen in almost every photo display of Iceland. It graces the cover of tour books and website home pages. One of the most famous shots shows the waterfall with the mountain in the background. My attempt is not quite as dramatic, but you get the idea, and may even recognize the pic. The mountain, with a cover of snow, is also famous for its starring role in The Game of Thrones. Although seen in season 6, it is center stage in season 7, when Jon Snow and his army are looking for the Army of the Dead north of The Wall. Since photos don’t do any of these sites justice, readers should watch (or re-watch) Game of Thrones to at least see the spectacular scenery.
Continuing east, the coastal drive was beautiful, with passage through the Berserkjahraum Lava Fields and a swing through the colorful Stykkisholmur fishing village before we headed to Husafell for some much-deserved sleep.