Located 65 degrees north, lies the Snæfellsnes peninsula – a stunning area that bathes in sunlight unlike other regions that are covered by dark clouds all day long. Often referred to as ‘Iceland in miniature’, the peninsula offers a great trip for those who have a short stop over, because it is comprised of the most intricate patterns and abstract shapes of all Iceland’s diverse landscapes. Within a few kilometres distance, one can admire glaciers, volcanoes, vast lava fields, craters, and golden sandy beaches with sapphire blue seas, reflecting the dramatic mountain peaks in the back drop.
This is what I woke up to a couple of weeks ago, on that wonderful Saturday morning. The night before, the very few hostels in range were fully booked, and we had no choice but to settle down in our tent for the night. Nevertheless, sleeping on the cold, rocky ground was worth every second – the next morning I woke up to a 90km stretch of geological contrasting landscapes, waiting to be explored. This was definitely one of the most electrifying feelings I’ve ever experienced!
Whilst having some coffee at the camping’s shelter area, one of the fellow campers spoke about the golden pink beaches. I could not quite visualise the scene until I got there later during that day and experienced it with my own eyes. The spectacle is most striking by the shore just before one reaches the famous Bjarnarfoss Waterfall, located exactly behind the Búðakirkja Church. The best time to go is during sunset when the sun’s rays cast orange and pink hues in contrast to the stunning blue shores.
These beaches are also very popular with horsemen and even though you may not be so lucky to encounter them around the shore, they might show up while you are driving, on the other side of the road. When the serenity of the green valleys is broken by the distant, rolling thunder, you have no choice but to slow down and admire them galloping along the gravel road.
It is said that Icelandic horses are direct descendants of the horses the Vikings had brought along with them back in the second half of the 9th Century, when Norse settlers migrated across the North Atlantic. Nowadays, these horses still have a long life and are able to withstand fatigue and the physical conditions of the country – the Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported into the country, and once the local ones are exported, they are not allowed to return.
Crowning this entire peninsula is the glistening ice cap, Snæfellsjökull – A dormant strato-volcano, 1446m high with a 200m deep crater. This glacier is definitely one of the main attractions – it overlooks the Snæfellsnes National Park at the far west end of the peninsula. There are a lot of interesting legends connected to the glacier, one of which is believed to be one of the seven chakras (energy centres) in the world.
The marvellous lava fields of Berserkjahraun and the black deserts between Langavtn and Hitarvatn lakes were my favourite areas to visit during the trip. These spots are so enchanting and mysterious, that one can easily spend a couple of hours staring in the void. You can park the car anywhere and one does not necessarily need a 4×4 to explore it.
The Snæfellsnes peninsula offers a very unique geological diversity – You can get very close to huge stretches of lava fields and right afterwards admire amazing gorges and waterfalls dropping heavily over basalts columns, just after a 15 minute drive. Truly breathtaking!
© 2017 – VIDA Magazine – Mandy Farrugia