Today we headed to the Strandir Region of the West Fjords, a remote area of about 800 people that includes the county of Arneshreppur which is quite sparsely populated with only about 50 people in 780 square kilometers (300 square miles). It's the least populated county in Iceland and where we spent most of our day today.
The remoteness and the beauty were wonderful as we enjoyed this rarely visited section of coastline. A little time in an oceanside, warm swimming pool just enhanced our experience.
It was a rainy morning, and we decided to splurge and have breakfast at Heydalur where we camped last night. It was like a continental breakfast buffet with some eggs and bacon. It was fine, but at $19/person, we learned that we were better off saving our money for other things.
With yesterday's lunch and this morning's breakfast, we had spent $100 on two restaurant meals, and found the rumors about expensive dining out were true.
We left and got our first photo of a faint rainbow.
It continued to rain as we drove around another fjord on Hwy 61, and then followed the road inland to the eastern edge of the West Fjords.
The rain finally let up as we left the pavement and started our exploration of Road 643 (aka "Strandavegur") in the Strandir Region. It's a somewhat rough road that most tourists never experience, but we loved the ruggedness, the mountains meeting the ocean, and the lack of people.
There were also remote lakes with white Whooper Swans providing a lovely contrast to the dark water.
We drove around the edge of this mountain and then looked back across the bay. The mountain is Mt. Kaldbakur (Note: there are multiple mountains with this name in Iceland, including the highest peak in the West Fjords located farther west).
Continuing on the potholed road, we appreciated the stark beauty.
This valley was gorgeous.
Views looking out from the waterfall.
I just kept snapping photos as Linda drove us around the fjords.
Approaching the village of Djúpavík.
Many people that drive this road make a stop in Djúpavík and visit the defunct herring factory which was bustling in the early 1900s. There is supposed to be an interesting display there, but we passed by as we weren't really interested in that aspect of today's road trip.
We continued on around the inlet, and stopped briefly for a photo of a seal.
On the other side of the fjord we looked back at the waterfall Djúpavíkurfoss presiding over the town.
Moving on the sky brightened a little and we got a peek at some blue sky as the scenery continued to impress us.
Eventually, we passed through the village of Norðurfjörður.
Around the corner in the above photo, only five minutes from Norðurfjörður near the end of the road, is the Krossneslaug pool, the only planned destination we had today.
Krossneslaug is out in the middle of nowhere, and relatively few people will make the 90k (from Hwy 61) one-way journey on the rough road to get there. Swimming in the hot pool overlooking the ocean was irresistible.
We were surprised to walk down the hill and find an attendant there to provide information and collect payment. I think it was 700 ISK (about $7) per person. He was very nice, and showed us a huge iceberg that was floating out in the ocean.
This was our first real Icelandic swimming pool experience. We went into the better-than-expected changing rooms and, as required, took our showers before putting our bathing suits back on and entering the pool.
It was so nice just soaking in the pool and looking out over the ocean. There were a couple of guys from Spain and one local there when we arrived, but we eventually had it all to ourselves.
The pool is heated by the natural hot springs up by where we parked.
The temperature can fluctuate so the attendant has a pipe with running cold water that he can add or subtract to make it the temperature agreed upon by those in the pool.
After about an hour and a half, we decided we should leave. The attendant gave us a couple of tips on how to finish up our time in Strandir.
A short drive past the pool is the sea stack called Þrjátíudalastapi - yeah, I have no idea how you pronounce that one. We stopped and had a late lunch overlooking the sea stack with the mountain Reykjaneshyrna in the background.
Then we proceeded back the way we came but took another gravel road toward the village of Eyri where there is another abandoned herring factory.
Continuing past Eyri, the road changed from rough to extremely rough. A 4WD with some clearance is highly recommended if you go past Eyri.
We crawled around the fjord Ingólfsfjörður and made our way to the end of the road at Ofeigsfjordur where Linda planned to walk the beach while I hiked to the waterfall in the photo below.
It took us about an hour to go a few kilometers. When we arrived, we were shocked to find a little parking area near the beach and flush toilets.
We could have camped there and seriously considered it, but we ultimately decided to head back after we finished there.
Linda walked the beach, and I headed toward the waterfall.
I walked up the road until I found some vehicles parked in a field that looked like they may have brought some backpackers. From there, it was easy to follow the trail along the river to the falls.
It was just me and the sheep, and I loved this waterfall.
I climbed up the rocks on the left side of the falls.
Here's the view looking out over the river as it flowed to the fjord.
I proceeded upriver following the sheep trails and just enjoying the solitude and the scenery.
After a while, I started back down to meet Linda at the camper van.
The sheep watched me curiously from the rocks above the waterfall.
A couple more shots of the falls before I left.
Linda had just returned to the van when I arrived, so our timing was perfect, and we started the slow drive back.
Just a few more photos as we re-traced our route.
Two more photos of the waterfall Djúpavíkurfoss over Djúpavík.
By the time we passed Mt. Kaldbakur it was shrouded in clouds.
After our wonderful drive, we landed in the village of Drangsnes where the campground was on our Camping Card. We parked looking out at the ocean where the camp warden told us some whales were frolicking earlier.
It was a long day, but one of our most enjoyable ones. There were no major attractions, just natural beauty without crowds.
It was also our last day in the West Fjords, and we're a little afraid we may have been spoiled by the relative lack of tourists. Maybe we should have saved the West Fjords for last. I guess we'll find out.
Day 6 Driving - 310k (193 miles)