I met Przemek and Martyna at a Facebook's group of Polish hitchhikers who are currently staying in Iceland. Przemek announced his willingness to go to Westfjords and was looking for people willing to join the trip. Not long before I've visited a piece of the region, but most of this depopulated area was still waiting for my foot to be put on it. The hesitation did not last long and a few days later, in the borrowed, black Honda Accord, we rode north - towards the new land.
Vestfirðir, the western fjords of Iceland, is one of the least populated areas of the island. Less than 7,000 people live on these more than 20,000 square kilometers, although at the beginning of the 20th century it was at least twice as many. In spite of the fact that you can find here the highest cliffs of the island and some of the most spectacular landscapes offered by Iceland, but it goes hand in hand with quite unfriendly weather conditions (even for this country). Closing the main access roads to cities in winter or spring is a daily occurrence in the western fjords.
Tales about cliffs of the size of skyscrapers aroused our imagination during this several-hour journey to the western tip of Iceland, although I was still falling asleep on the way, as I spent last night at work. Right at the very gate of the region, the landscape begins to become more and more interesting, as if more massive and aggressive, and after a few hours of driving it turns out to be completely hypnotizing with its gargantuantuan shapes.
Continuing the journey along the fjords we reached one of the most interesting abandoned gems hidden in Iceland. It is a wreck of the ship Garðar BA 64. At that time we didn't know that this is the oldest steel ship in Iceland - it was built in 1912 in Norway, and found itself in Iceland after the Second World War. Originally it was used for whaling, later it was mainly used for herring. In 1981 it was considered to be unsafe to use and left in the shallows, where it has been slowly deteriorating to this day. We did not neglect to comb through every possible nook and cranny of the ship with great satisfaction, and there was plenty to see, believe me! The rusty metal hull and masts of the ship contrasted, or rather complemented, with the harsh nature of the area.
The road to the south-western end of Vestfirðir is quite demanding and did not allow our Honda to go faster than 20-30 km/h. This tip was our main goal for today and it is called Látrabjarg. It is famous for its monumental cliffs, which are home to thousands of puffins, and at the same time a paradise for photographing these remarkable birds. Apparently in summer this place is home to up to 5 million flying creatures. Icelanders for generations have been practicing here a specific rappelling down the cliff in order to pick up the eggs of the puffins in order to prepare their delicious morning scrambled eggs. Thanks to this traditionally learned way of navigating the cliffs, Icelandic farmers heroically rescued twelve British survivors in 1947, who shattered at the bottom of the cliffs.
The cliff stretches for 12 kilometres and is almost 450 metres high. We went for a short hike leading by the precipice, hoping to observe at least a few puffins. Unavailingly - they probably flew away a long time ago, or we just came at the wrong time of the day. Not only we expected them here, we met at least a few photographers with professional equipment, one of which waited a few hours at the place. At least now we have a good reason to go back there! However, Látrabjarg did not need puffins to impress with its beauty. The view down the cliffs is breathtaking for everyone, without exception. Even disappointed photographers.
The first day of discovering Vestfirðir was slowly approaching the end. When the rain caught us coming back to the car, it was already getting late. However, we decided to go back to the main road going around the fjords and spend the night a little bit up north, so as to have more time for travelling the next day. We arrived at night to the next hot springs called Pollurinn, but they were occupied by Icelanders enjoying a cold beer inside. We camped wildly nearby, and bathing in the springs was postponed until the morning.