Arctic Foxes & Midnight Sun
The bright Icelandic summer nights are the right time to see arctic foxes. During the day they stay in and around their dens. But at night, the foxes are more active and visible. The young pups play outside the dens while their parents hunt in the mountains or along the beach.
Kvíar is an old farmhouse in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. When people abandoned the area in 1948 with their livestock, arctic foxes became the only remaining land mammals. For 65 years they have roamed the fjords and bays, free from human disturbance, making them rather tame and playful.
Kviar is the only house in many kilometers radius, reachable only by boat. This summer we welcome our guests to spend a night in the old historical house and enjoy the beautiful surroundings, where nature has ruled for 65 years.
We leave by boat from Ísafjörður at 11:00 every Monday morning in July. We embark our speedboat Bjarnarnes, head over the big fjord and into the Jökulfirðir fjord system until we take land at Kviar. Now we have around 21 hours to spend in the surroundings of Kvíar. We walk up the valley and to the edge to get a panoramic view over the magnificent Lónafjörður fjord while keeping a close lookout for arctic foxes. Rich birdlife is also to be seen; anything from common species such as eider ducks, swans, oystercatchers and snipes to more rare ones such as the white tailed eagle.
We take it easy, have good dinner, observe foxes and have a nap at the old house. The boat comes and picks us up the next day roughly at around 10:00.
It's a unique opportunity to visit Hornstrandir in a relatively short timeframe, experience the midnight sun, learn about and feel the history of the area and see arctic foxes in their natural environment.
We respect the arctic foxes and realize that summer is their breeding time. Therefore we walk carefully, keep distance and follow guidelines and rules given by wildlife specialists.
Check booking availability now, by choosing a date.
Disclaimer: All adventure trips are undertaken on the responsibility of its participants. BOREA does not assume any responsibility for accidents which are caused by its customers or can be traced to there own actions. Participants have to sign a waiver before undertaking all trips stating that they realize that all outdoor activities carry an inherit risk.
Guaranteed departures: Mondays in July
Duration of trip:
Minimum number of participants:
Maximum number of participants:
- Available: Jun. - Sep.
- Duration: 3 days
- Activities: Kayaking, Hiking, Boat Trip, Bird watching
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Minimum age: 12 years old
- Languages: English, Icelandic
The Westfjords are the westernmost part of Iceland and the whole of Europe. The Westfjords are home to some off the most beautiful natural gems and off the beaten track attractions in Iceland.
The Westfjords are a wide area stretching as a peninsula to the northwest of the mainland. The peninsula is all mountainous with numerous fjords of varying length.
The town Isafjordur in the fjord Skutulsfjordur serves as the capital of the region, with around 3000 inhabitants. There are many fishing villages in the fjords, as good fishing banks are found around the Wesfjords.
The agriculture is very scant, due to the steepness of the mountains and the lowland is limited. Below are some of the best natural attractions you can find in the Westfjords.
Hornstrandir nature reserve
Many places in the Westfjords are now deserted, such as the northernmost part of the peninsula: Hornstrandir. Hornstrandir is a holy place for travelers who seek solitude, wildlife, breathtaking scenery and great hiking trails. Don´t miss it if you´re looking for peacefulness.
Dynjandi ('Thunderous') is one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls. This is really a series of waterfalls, seven altogether, with a cumulative hight of 100 meters. The trapezoidal shape of its main uppermost tier is particularly notable (40 m wide at the top, 60 m at the bottom.
Europe’s westernmost part is in The Westfjords, the massive vertical seacliff Latrabjarg, over 400 meters high with millions of seabirds nesting there. In 1947 a British trawler stranded there. Local farmers managed to safe most of the fishermen by heaving them by rope 190 meters up into the air. This heroic deed has been filmed.
Raudisandur Beach & Sjounda
The beach by the cliff is called Raudisandur, rare for its pale red, almost pink sand. Along with many seabirds, the beach also features hundreds of seals.
Innermost of Raudisandur are the remnants of the farm Sjounda. At the beginning of the 19th century it was a site for one of Iceland’s most famous murder cases.
Two farmers lived there with there wives but the one farmer fell in love with the other's wife and she with him and they were later sentenced to death for murdering their spouses. This dramatic event later served as an inspiration for Icelandic author Gunnar Gunnarsson's masterful novel Svartfugl (The Black Cliffs).
Hornstrandir is a nature reserve located in the Westfjords, in the North West of Iceland. The total area covers 580 km2 (220 sq mi) of tundra, cliffsides, flowering fields and ice (the glacier, Drangajökull, sits to the region’s south).
The nature reserve was established in 1975, its borders encompassing the picturesque fjords Hrafnfjörður and Furufjörður, finishing at Skorarheiði moor. Also included within the reserve is district of Grunnavíkurhreppur, the rural district of Sléttuhreppur and the Jökulfirðir fjords. The Nature and Food Agency is responsible for the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve.
See Also: Westfjords Tours
Given the nature reserve’s isolated location, it makes sense that Hornstrandir has a rich history quite distinct from that of mainland Iceland. Farming was difficult given the region’s terrain and tall cliffs, so early settlers chose fishing and the hunting of birds as their primary livelihood. Those who lived there often stayed in abodes of some distance to one another, making travelling to and from farmsteads difficult in the wintertime. In this respect, life at Hornstrandir was lonely and difficult to sustain.
Outlaws often travelled to Hornstrandir in the hope of boarding foreign ships and embarking to start a new life abroad. Aside from fearing the law, such travellers also had to watch out for polar bears who, every so often, would float on an ice cap from neighbouring Greenland.
Flora and Fauna
There are approximately 260 different species of flowering plant and fern that grow in Hornstrandir; many of these are native across the entirety of the Westfjords, others are unique only to the reserve. One of the reasons for this luscious abundance of plant life is because Hornstrandir has been devoid of grazing animals for several decades. Knee-high plant life will often stretch out for kilometres, culminating in a challenging hike through the wilderness.
Ever since the 1950s, Hornstrandir has been devoid of permanent human residents. The area is inaccessible to motorised traffic, and only a few old buildings and farmsteads now allude to the area’s history of settlement. It is, however, home to Iceland’s only native mammal, the cheeky, yet elusive, Arctic Fox, who preys upon the birds nesting along Hornstrandir’s towering cliff-faces. There is a hunting ban across Hornstrandir, meaning the fox populations are free to live without the threat of human intrusion.
The other most prominent mammal in the region are field mice, though these are, naturally, more to difficult to spot. As for birdlife, enthusiasts can spot nesting Arctic Terns, Puffins and Black Guillemots. The region has the two of the largest bird cliffs in Europe, overshadowing the coastal paradise that is Hornvík Bay.
Activities at Hornstrandir
Those looking to hike, explore and stay at Hornstrandir must bring a tent and supplies if they’re looking to camp overnight. As previously stated, the nature reserve has no roads, permanent dwellings or shops, meaning that those who take to the wild here must be self-sustaining. Travelling here requires much forethought and visitors must be fully prepared with food, water, warm layers of clothing and sturdy hiking.
The region is only accessible for organised trips during the summer months (May, June, July and, occasionally, August). During the winter, only specially permitted excursions are allowed (i.e. documentary crews/biologists, etc.)
The town Isafjordur in the fjord Skutulsfjordur is the capital of the Westfjords, with a population of about 2600 people.
Fishing is the main industry of Isafjordur, along with tourism. The University Center of the Westfjords is located here, and the town also has a cultural museum. The local folk museum is housed in the oldest home in Iceland, built in 1786.
Isafjordur hosts many popular events, its most famous being the highly popular yearly music festival, Aldrei For Eg Sudur ('I Never Went South'), near Easter time.
Departure time : 17:00
Transfer to and from the boat
Boat trips both ways
Accommodation in Kvíar
What to bring:
Small backpack and other personal items.
Day 1 - Getting to Kvíar
We will take the boat Bjarnarnes from Ísafjörður harbour over to the Hornstrandir nature reserve in the morning. Our stop is Kvíar, between Veiðileysufjörður and Lónafjörður. From there we hike onto the mountain looming over Kvíar, the abandoned farmhouse we've renovated into a cozy little lodge for our guests. On the hike we feast on a lunch-pack that is made from scratch at our café, Bræðraborg, and when we finally get back to Kvíar, we cook ourselves a nice dinner, and have a relaxing evening in Kvíar.
There is a fox den close to Kvíar, and the foxes are curious, so we can take a leisurely stroll around Kvíar while waiting for the sun to reach it's lowest point, which is a magnificent sight in the remote nature reserve.
At the days end, the beds in Kvíar will be the perfect place to rest for the coming day.
Day 2 - Foxes & Activites
After waking up to a hearty breakfast, we decide what to do for the day. There are some prime hiking routes close by, and we have a zodiac to get around. We'll do some kayaking, paddling into the head of Lónafjörður. We will take a slight detour along the way to check out a seal cove close by. After dinner we stay up to catch the 'sunset' again, and before heading to bed, we prepare for the departure back to Ísafjörður in the morning,
Day 3 - Heading Home
After two days and two nights in the nature reserve, it's now time to head back to Ísafjörður. The boat picks us up in the morning, and we say goodbye to the foxes before jumping on the boat. Once back at the harbour you are free to do as you wish!