DAY EIGHT: The impossible hike and a touch of magic.
After experiencing one of the coldest nights, we were really tossing up whether to visit the West Fjords or not. We weren’t sure if we were prepared with the clothing we’d brought, and had heard rumours that they were some of the windiest, steepest and curviest roads that people had experienced.
That’s when I stumbled across my favourite Walter Mitty quote:
"To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life."
If you haven’t seen the movie, do yourself a favour and WATCH IT. Anyway, after reading that I knew we had to brave it and go to the West Fjords. Rumoured to be the most beautiful place in Iceland, we were super excited (and a tad nervous) to visit. But on our way we went!
We decided to go clockwise around the Fjords, starting from our Saeburg campground and going via the 60/61 roads. Our first stop for the day was at the Holmivik Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft, and I can’t recommend it enough.
The entry fee was 950ISK, and well worth the money. The museum is basically a two story small house that has been reconfigured to house some of Iceland’s most important history. Did you know that there was a strong belief that witchcraft and sorcery existed in Iceland? Or that 90% of those believed to be using sorcery were men? And only ONE woman in the entire history was burnt at the stake for being a witch?
The museum was very fascinating, and though the entire exhibition is in Icelandic, they give you a guidebook with your spoken language translated. I really enjoyed the museum, and the life size models were interesting… to say the least.
After grabbing a quick takeaway coffee in Holmivik, we jumped back onto the road with no real plan. We’d been recommended to stay at an awesome place by my friend (thanks Ciara!), and we figured we’d just head there and hope for the best.
However, at this time it was only 1pm and we felt we still had the whole day to explore. After all. The sun doesn’t set properly till around 10pm here, so you’ve got yonks of daylight to take advantage of. After some furious googling, we noticed that the Dragonjokul glacier was MASSIVE, and something we wanted to visit.
Funnily enough, there was no clear way to really get there unless you went on a paid tour. At this stage, we’d left it far too late to organise something, so we decided to wing it and try and make our own way there. The glacier is the ONLY glacier in Iceland that is not receding; and when you arrive it’s not hard to see why.
In the middle of nowhere, this glacier is absolutely monstrous and FREEZING. We took the route 635 to a place called Kaloden, where we passed many beautiful natural waters and hardly any civilisation. The road was gravel and had loads of potholes, so what should have taken 20 minutes took almost 40 minutes to drive.
The drive is worth it, I promise. You know when you’ve arrived when you see a natural waterfall coming down the left fjord that consists of almost 7 separate streams. It’s absolutely breathtaking, and then when you look to the right of it you’ll see the entrance to the magnificent Dragonjokull glacier.
As this is one that not many people make it to (due to being so far out), it really is untouched and perfect in all ways. We parked on a random stretch of gravel, and chucked on about a million layers each. It was easily around 5 degrees, with howling winds that made it feel like below zero.
The terrain you need to cross to get to the base of glacier is really, really hard to walk on. Most of it are loose rocks that slip underneath your feet, and the rest consists of jumping over rivers, trekking through muddy sinking sand and squelching brown grass beneath your feet.
We walked for around an hour across the loose rocks, and it was HARD. We reached about 300m from the base, but the last bit had involved scaling massive piles of rocks and both of us were absolutely wrecked. To top it off, the rain had become so ferocious that each drop felt like a small dagger, piercing our wind-burned cheeks.
At this stage, we realised we weren’t properly equipped for a solo hike up the glacier. We basically reached the base, and that was more than enough for us. If you choose to do this hike, please make sure you wear 100% rainproof/waterproof/coldproof clothing and bring a first aid kit. While it was difficult, it was worth the total serenity we experienced. No one around us for kilometres, and just the sound of the natural waterfalls gushing from the fjords that surrounded the glacier.
After making the trek back to our car, we sat inside with the heater on full blast to try and get warm. Note to self; next time you go to Iceland make sure you bring clothes that stay dry, warm AND protect you from the wind.
That night we drove to camp at Tangudalar, which was lovely as the campsite had a waterfall/river running directly through it. There is a small common room there with wifi (though it wasn’t working), a kitchen, guitar, showers (awesome and big!), laundry and toilet.
The next day involved loads of driving, seeing my FAVOURITE Icelandic waterfall and exploring what the West Fjords are known for – the bird cliffs. Click HERE to read all about it.