©Wolfgang Kaehler

Iceland 2017 Photo Tour, Day 10 & 11

Iceland 2017 Photo Tour, Day 10 & 11

By Michelle Alten

Valley with rainbow at Borgarfjordur

Icelandic horses

Icelandic horse

Icelandic horse

 

Buttercups

 

Redshank

 

Day 10 – We leave behind our inn that rests on a hillside looking out on the Hvita River and distant farms. Enroute to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula on Iceland’s southwestern coast, we stop at Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. Here foamy turquoise water churns and rushes through the volcanic rock. Above the passionate river, water appears out of the volcanic rock and threads its way down a stone wall, creating a silky web.

Watching the water rushing, racing everywhere, it feels like Iceland is constantly moving, and indeed it is. Water dashes through canyons, icefields retreat, and land rises and falls as two titanic tectonic plates shift beneath the earth. The natural phenomenon is a reminder that change is inevitable. At times it brings beauty like the purple lupines blanketing the hillsides and valleys—at times it brings expanses of barren stone as the glaciers disappear. Whatever it brings, change is inevitable.

Young sheep at Budir

 

The rugged shore of the Snaefellsnes peninsula, created by lava flows, is one of nature’s artistic endeavors. On the beach at Budir Bay a massive cluster of volcanic rock that looks as though a giant had abandoned his campfire. Eider ducks paddle in a placid lagoon and sheep graze in an endless labyrinth of volcanic rock cloaked in grasses, mosses, and wildflowers.

Day 10 Birds – Arctic tern, eider ducks, golden plover, glaucous gull, snow bunting, wagtail, oyster catchers, snipe, horned grebe, redshank, whimbrel, raven, common merganser, redwing, silver-backed gull

Day 11 – Today is our last day, and we will explore the peninsula and more of its jagged coastline—an ideal habitat for nesting seabirds. At Arnarstapuhofn, fulmars have waterfront real estate on bluffs where they settle in shallow niches, sheltered from the wind. Landranger, Iceland’s newest National Park, hosts kittiwakes that nest on cliffs towering above the sea. We are delighted to spot razorbills and common murres sharing sculpted rocks that jut out of the ocean at Saxholsbjarg. This peninsula on the southwestern shore of Iceland, with its quiet hamlets and wind battered-coast, is only a few hours from Reykjavik, but it feels so far from civilization. Here the birds breed, nest, and raise their chicks to a rhythm distinct from the modern world.

Lighthouse at Snæfellsnes National Park

Razorbills at Snaefellsnes National Park

 

Fish soup at Gamla Rif Cafe

 

Chilled from standing in the ocean breeze watching the birds, we head to Gamla Rif, a quaint restaurant in a little house overlooking a fishing harbor. Anna, the owner, cheerily greets us with her fish soup featuring halibut in a creamy red curry broth—ideal after the morning in the chilly sea air. She is happy to share the recipe, but she warns us that it won’t be the same as hers. We have tasted fish soup all around Iceland, and each one is unique.
The Snaefellsnes volcano stays sequestered in the clouds, like a temperamental deity, but the landscape continues to unfold as we make our way to Reykjavik. A white church amidst a bed of lupins, a herd of sheep on the hillside, Kirkjufell Mountain, resting like a sleeping giant. Helgi tells us how sheep owners rely on an honor system in these remote regions. Steeling sheep is a serious crime. Not because of the value of the sheep, but because people all depend on each other.
Iceland has a feeling of purity—crisp air, clear water, and honest people. Travel here is a refreshing adventure away from cities, the news, and the tumult of the world. It is an island adventure that renews the spirit and a sense of optimism.

For information on future photo tours please email Wolfgang at info@phototours.us

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