Venturing along Iceland’s Snaefellsnes Peninsula

For about two days around Iceland’s West Coast, and before heading back to Reykjavik, our group gradually made its way across Snaefellsnes peninsula, a geological mixture of everything from lava fields to off-colored sandy beaches. Exploring this rugged region makes you think you’ve landed on another planet.

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The earthy features here also extend to volcanoes, glaciers, mineral springs, and rock formations, as well as caves and bird colonies. Along this way is the Myrar district, a region of plains and bogs with small lakes.

A number of villages line this region as well. Making quick stops at some of them along the way, we got to explore Búöir, a former fishing village graced by a white sandy embankment adjacent to the Búŏavik Bay. To get to the sand, you walk through a grassy area.

Once there, you will also see lava rock, as the dark and large stones make up the Búŏahraun lava field. The area also has a bit of mysticism to it. New Age followers are said to have been coming here with the notion that this place is best for finding “good vibrations.”

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We also spend some time at Arnarstapi, another village that is mainly a summer resort. There are cottages here along with a harbor and seaside cliffs, and a large stone statue that is a monument of a Pagan figure, which “looks out” for this area.

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Now vacant, Dritvik bay was once home to a prominent fishing village but now is mostly seen for a valley of lava formations and gorges and pebble-covered beach called Djúpalónssandur. A reminder of Dritvik’s past, the beach has four heavy lifting stones that were used in a game of strength by fisherman.

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With each stone differing in weight, they went like this:  Fullsterkur (meaning “full strength”); Hálfsterkur (“half strength”); Hálfdrættingur (“weakling”) and Amlóði (“useless”). Fishermen had to lift at least Hálfdrættingur to hip height to be eligible. The beach also holds the remains of a British trawler called the Epine, which was shipwrecked east of Dritvik in March 1948. Only five out of the 19 crew members were saved.

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Also in Snaefellsnes peninsula, there are sets of waterfalls called Barnafoss and Hraunfossar, which may not be as large as other walls but you can get a good view via a walkway and climbing up and down a rocky section. A major piece in the peninsula is Snaefellsjökull Glacier, found at the very end. A beautiful site, this glacier is a stratovolcano, which means it’s a conical volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash.

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The glacier also has a footnote in literature, described in Jules Verne’s novel, “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” Yes, overall, there is much to see while driving along Snaefellsnes.

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