Sailing in Scotland

In search of whales – Akureyri / Isafjordur

Akureyri, the starting point of our two week trip across the north of Iceland via the Arctic Circle to Isafjordur. Akureyri has a buzzling little town and convenient airport. It makes it a good place to explore Iceland. Akureyri is situated at the bottom of Eyafjordur, Icelands longest fjord.

The first day sailing will be all about getting to know the ship and the people on it, as it will be a short day to the island Hrisey. The Island at the mouth of the Eyafjordur is the summer retreat not only for urban Akureyri but also for the Rock Tarmigan. These birds come down from the hills and nest on the Island in the spring. They are relatively tame and it is not rare to see the parading the towns streets in the afternoon. Hrisey offers some great day hikes accompanied by splendid views over and into the fjord.

Sailing to Hrisey, keep your eyes on the water and your ears open for breathing sounds of the whales that come to Eyafjordur for food and rest.

waterfalls and purple flowers

Sailing to Grimsey it is very likely to see some of the worlds largest sea mammals. The cold water brought down by the east Greenland current is plankton rich and this attracts this great creatures. The rare Blue whales are spotted here every year! The arctic circle (which shifts every year) has its own statue and is hard to miss. When walking up to the circle you pas a little pool of water where it would be very possible to spot some Phalarope dancing on the water.

Setting sail for Siglefjordur the change in land scape soon becomes clear. The table mountains are swapped for the higher and sow covered peaks to the east. Siglefjordur lies safely in the fjord bearing its name. It is an al weather harbor and used to be the Herring capital of the world. The maritime museum has a great photo collection on the fishery’s of the past.

The puffin Island of Drangey is the next highlight. Sailing in to Skagafjordur the mysterious shape of Drangey and its unmistakable sea stack soon become obvious. Drangey is the setting for Grittir’s saga. The Island used to be the giants hide out after he was exiled from the main land. Or so the story goes. Now it is a favorite nesting place for many sea birds. One of them in particular, the Puffin. The have their nest in the many barrows al over the Island. This is the place to get a puffin up close picture. If you are interested in more information on Drangey please read our Mist and Myths about Drangey and its stories or Myths. 

A short stop might be made in Djupjavik in Reykjafjordur. The old herring factory is now open as an art gallery.

Hrafnsfjordur waterfall

Nordurfjordur marks the beginning of the Hornstrandir nature reserve. In what better fashion could we leave civilization as to enjoy a refreshing visit to the hot pool. Looking out over the Greenlan sund this might be the best in Iceland.

Setting sail for Hornvik, the North coast offers some weather permitted anchorages in uncharted waters. This is the true adventure, sailing in to un explored fjords walking up to the the very glacier that shaped them. Drangajokull is the main shaper of the landscape in the nature reserve. The ice cap sits at nearly 1000 mtr. The glacier is no longer calving but her greatest extent is still present in the form of terminal moraines at the mouth of each fjord. 

Hornvik, one of the highlights of our trip. Hornvik is the most NW’ly tip of Iceland. It is made up out of towering sea cliffs, dropping straight down into the Greenland sund. This is where we are most likely to run into the Arctic fox. This cunning creator torments the birds nesting on the cliffs. The walks up to the horn are truly rewarding and over unforgettable and unspoiled views over the hills and out at sea. Read more on the Hornvik Hike here…

From Hornvik we sail on to discover the fjords of Hornstrandir,  Hesteyri lies in the Hornstrandir nature reserve. 

fox cubs close to their den

The reserve was largely abandoned in the 1950's when living in the area proved to be to harsh. The farmers/fishermen used to live of the land and sea. Poor summers produced to little hay for them to support their live stock while the ocean was unforgiving to those brave enough to venture out. In 1972 the area became a nature reserve allowing the 260 flowering plants and ferns to grow back to their former and original state! The fauna also made its comeback. Arctic foxes are no longer hunted and roam freely in. The sea cliffs are home to many birds including Razorbills, guillemots, puffins and Kittiwakes. Gyr falcon and Eagles are king of the sky, while Snow buntings, Red Shanks, Snipes and many more dwell in the meadows.

Isafjordur

Isafjordur is easy to reach by plane. There is a flight twice a day. From the airport you can get to the Tecla by bus, which stops at the hotel just 2 minutes walking away form the Tecla. Or you can rent a car and drive. It is possible to rent the car and leave it on the airport on both sides. Take some time and see more of Iceland along the way!

Sailing into the Isafjardardjup it is very likely we will be met by some flukes from the many Humpback whales feeding on the rich plankton waters. Hesteyri could be our last stop, depending on the weather and how much time we have left. This abandoned village used to house over a hundred people, most working in the nearby whaling/herring factory. The old doctors house is now used as a dormitory and serves some of the best pancakes! Most of the other picturesc houses are now used as holiday homes.

If we have time we can explore some if the fjords situated a little deeper inward. Otherwise we set sail for Isafjordur, our last stop for this voyage. Isafjordur, the capital of the westfjords lies safely behind a sand spit. Helgi Magri Hrólfsson first settled here in the 9th century after seeing its potential. In later years the town became important to the Danes as a trading post. Through out this time the fishing industry has been the main support for the inhabitants of Isafjordur and the rest of the westfjords.

Voyage to the Arctic Circle

Whales spotted from the Tecla

15 - 25 years old €2.310 25>years old €2.660

puffins on drangey

10th - 23rd of July