Picture by Sergio Morchon

Langanes and its South

Competing with Melrakkaslétta for the record, the eastern region of the farthest northeastern corner of Iceland is another truly out-of-the-way place. The moorlands are cushioned in moss and riddled with lakes and marshes. The mostly flat lands are broken by a few small hills with good trekking trails and are dotted with several deserted farms. All the area is rich in flora and in arctic fauna, mostly birds, but still a near-total feeling of loneliness and charming melancholy is what hovers all around.

The goose shaped peninsula of Langanes undoubtedly offers the most unforgettable sceneries of the region. The tip of it, Fontur, has a lighthouse which looks like the outermost on earth. The endless wind beating the high vertical cliffs often blanketed in fog helps in creating a strikingly dramatic atmosphere. On the North and on the South of the beak of the goose two cliffs, respectively Skoruvíkubjarg and Skálavíkubjarg, are paradise for bird lovers. Here are some of the largest colonies of Brünnich’s Guillemots and of Gannets. In particular is pretty impressive the Gannet colony on Stórikarl rock column, just below Skoruvíkubjarg. Other birds which are most likely to be seen here are Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Puffins of course. The two cliffs are connected by a rough track. If you decide to walk beware of the aggressive Arctic Terns.

Picture by Rachel Fletcher

At the base of Langanes peninsula is the small village of Þórshöfn on the northern side and its highest peak, Gunnólfsvíkurfjall, from which top in clear days there are magnificent views up to the highlands, on the southern side. Few kilometers South two more towns come in succession. The first one you’d bump into is Bakkafjörður. Placed on the top of a cliff, this tiny village surely looks isolated. Everything is about fish here and sea angling is one of the main activities. The old pier was replaced by a picturesque harbor which contributes to the timeless look of the place. The town swimming pool is not exactly in town but 30km away and from there a magnificent view over the mountain awaits the visitors.

Next is Vopnafjörður, set on a pretty fjord, on the southern ridge of a small peninsula. The landscape is extremely varied with snow-capped mountains, highlands, wetlands full of bird life, steep rocks and mountains creating valleys. And the sea of course. Moreover trekking opportunities are not missing but this town is mostly famous for its modern harbor, the biggest of the region. And, once in Vopnafjörður, look around yourself very carefully. You might meet Miss World 1988.

How to get there and around:
From Húsavík to Þórshöfn it’s a 159km drive on road n.85, direction East.
From Mývatn area to Vopnafjörður it’s a 135km drive. First follow road n.1, direction East, for 81km until the junction with road n.85. Here turn left on this road, direction North-East, and drive 54km to your destination.
Þórshöfn is 62km away from Raufarhöfn and 72km from Kópasker. Always on road n.85.
If you’re coming from Egilsstaðir drive 83km direction West on road n.1. At the junction with road n.85 turn right on it and in 54km you’ll reach Vopnafjörður.
Þórshöfn, Bakkafjörður and Vopnafjörður are all just next to road n.85, respectively 44km and 24km away from each other.
From Þórshöfn to the tip of Langanes peninsula it’s a 51km drive on a rough road. You need a 4×4 for it.

 

Text by Francesco Perini
Heading picture by Sergio Morchon
Mid text picture by Rachel Fletcher

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