We were up early, on the first of June, because we had a long day ahead of us. It had rain the previous afternoon and throughout the evening but when we woke up it was a bit cloudy but the rain had stopped. Our agenda for the day was to spend the entire day driving around the Látrabjarg Peninsula and most importantly search for Puffins on the Latrabjarg bird-cliffs.
We took highway 62 out of Patreksfjörður. Along the road we noticed a fish farm just outside of Patreksfjörður.
When we reached the head of Patreksfjörður we turned off on highway 612 which would take us to the bird cliffs. Just after turning off we found the Garðar BA 64 beached at the head of the fiord. It was built in Norway in 1912 and after WWII it ended up in Iceland. It was used as a whaling and fishing boat until 1981 when it was no longer fit for service. Normally it would have been scuttled at sea but, for some reason, it was beached at the head of the Patreksfjörður where it has remained.
A short drive up the fjord we passed the Patreksfjörður airport which was located among the sand dunes. You can see Patreksfjörður on the other side of the fjord. The second photo is of the highlands from around the airport.
Highway 612 is nothing to brag about. It was dirt, narrow, filled with potholes and the occasional boulder. We encountered several road crews working on the road. It was early in the tourist season and they were just starting to work on the roads.
We encountered these beautiful sand beaches near Hnjótur.
Our next stop for the day was the Egill Ólafsson Museum in Hnjótur. It was started by Egill Ólafsson when he noticed that everyone was throwing told tools and fishing paraphernalia out. He started collecting it and eventually it was turned into a museum. We stopped to use the rest room but the Museum was still closed. Just as we were about to leave it opened. We spend some time looking around and found it a very interesting place.
Egill Ólafsson was also interested in airplanes an interest he passed on to his son. When the American Air Base in Keflavík closed he purchased this plane and trucked it to the Museum site in Hnjótur. If you look back at the photo of the road you can see that it was a major project to get the plane to its current site.
As we were heading into the highlands we found this small waterfall along the road.
The first photo shows a cairn marking the way across the highlands. The second photo looks across the highlands toward the Latrabjarg bird-cliffs.
As we drove down out of the highlands we entered the small town of Breidavik. It only consists of a few buildings but because of all of the traffic to the bird cliffs they had rented a traffic cop to slow down the traffic.
Just outside Breidavik we encountered the old Brunnar Fishing Station. In the 1880’s there were about 20 boats and 100 fishermen stationed at Breidavik from April to July.
The short drive, along the coast, from Brunnar Fishing Station to Latrabjarg bird-cliffs offered some beautiful scenery.
Once we reached the bird cliffs we started walking along the trail at the top of the cliffs. It was a spectacular walk along the cliffs although we were not having much luck finding Puffins. We had only seen one Puffin when we stopped for lunch.
We were talking with several people when I caught a movement up the trail. It looked like a fox had just gone over a small rise in the trail. The folks we were talking to said it could only be an Arctic Fox because there were no other small animals in the area. As we continued our walk along the cliffs we were able to spot the fox walking along the trail ahead of us. It gradually made its way down into a valley below the cliffs. We watched it for a long time before losing sight of it. We were really lucky to see an Arctic Fox.
We were not seeing any Puffins so we started back toward the parking lot. Once again we noticed the Arctic Fox moving along the valley below us. It went behind a small hill and we lost sight of it. We stopped to look at some birds before resuming out walk back to the parking lot. As we turned to head back on the trail I noticed the Arctic Fox was on the trail just ahead of us. It walked ahead of us for a short distance before dropping over the cliffs. We waited for a while to see if it we could find it but we did not see it again.
The view of the sea and the rocks below the cliffs were outstanding.
On our way back to the parking lot we were able to see a few more Puffins. Some folks seemed to be taking lots of photos of a few Puffins. We were actually a little early for Puffin viewing. They were just starting to return to their nesting ground. Once they return, later in June, and start raising their young there will be some good photo opportunities. The irony was that we walked for several miles and ended up seeing the most puffins withing 100 yards of the parking lot.
Just before leaving I walked over to the lighthouse to see if I could see any seals. The person at the Egill Ólafsson Museum said that people had been seeing them below the lighthouse. Sure enough there were a few of them swimming in the surf.
We then started back to Patreksfjörður where we were going to stay a second night. On the way we decided to make a side trip to Raudasandur Beach so we headed off on highway 614. The road was not the best but the views were great.
When we arrived there was a beautiful view of Raudasandur Beach. When we drove to the end of the road found this black church. Saurbaer Church is said to be one of only 4 black churches in Iceland.
After a brief stop we returned over the highlands with some great views of Patreksfjörður. You can see the fish farm just outside the city of Patreksfjörður.
On the way back we stopped again at the Egill Ólafsson Museum for a little coffee and cake and to take in a movie of the Látrabjarg sea cliffs rescue. In December 1947 a British trawler, the Dhoon, ran aground in a storm off the vertiginous Látrabjarg sea cliffs. The locals were called to rescue the crew on the stranded ship under appalling conditions. they had to climb down the cliffs and bring the crew off the boat one at a time. They were able to save 12 of the crew members. The movie was in Icelandic but still very gripping. The second photo shows the cliffs where the rescue took place.
As we were leaving the Látrabjarg Peninsula we passed a bird nesting grounds. there were about 5 species of birds around. Lots of Arctic Terns were nesting and were not happy. We initially drove past them but then turned around and went back so I could photograph them from the car window. We also saw this Oyster Catcher leave its nest. We had seen Oyster Catchers throughout the trip but hadn’t realized they build their nests right on top of the rocks and along the road.
We then drove back to our Airbnb in Patreksfjörður. After having a bite to eat at the local N1 we drove through the town to look around. It was a beautiful evening at the harbor. A fitting end to a great day of exploration.
More photos and a complete listing of my Icelandic blogs can be found on my website.