Djúpið (the Deep) is named after the large water body called Ísafjarðadjúp which running West to East separates the inhabited Westfjords to the South from the isolated and wild Snæfjallströnd and Hornstrandir regions to the North.

Djúpið map(c) Wikipedia

Now mention Djúpið to an Icelander and you are likely to get one of two responses (if not both). 1, "man thats a long and boring drive in and out of all those fjords" or 2, "wow, could you get any more isolated?!"

Both of these comments have their merits. Yes you have to drive in and out of 8 fjords to get from Hólmavík to Súðavík, and yes there are not so many people living in the area as their once were, but who really see´s those two points as a disadvantage or a negative, especially if you are in the Westfjords traveling. I mean the name "Westfjords" gives clues as to geography of the area, and in fact nowhere else in the region will you get to experience so many fjords in such a small area, their coastlines, beautiful and unique valleys and all without seeing another soul or hearing the constant humm of cars passing..that doest sound like a negative to me :-) So I have set upon myself the task of changing this image and showing the world that Djúpið in itself is a place worth visiting, has a history worth reading and a nature worth experiencing! To that end I have written down one, just ONE thing to do or see in each fjord that you will pass on your journey through Djúpið

1. Ísafjörður Fjord

Arngerðareyri(c)þorður sigurdsson

Arngerðareyri

The Arngerðaeyri house is best known by the name, “the old castle house” and is a building which goes unnoticed by none on a journey through our wonderful fjords and is the star of many a photograph and now even a documentary about the house is being made.

Built in 1928 when life in this area was blooming the house was in constant use until 1966 when it was abandoned and fell into disrepair and is now owned by a German couple who plan to restore it to its former glory.

2. Reykjafjörður Fjord

Salt Verk Salt(c)SaltVerk

Salt Verk

Salt Verk is the world’s only company producing 100% sustainable artisan salt from the pure sea waters found around the Reykjanes peninsula using a 200 year old technique first brought to the area by an ancient king of Denmark, harnessing the geothermal power the area is so famous for. By evaporating the sea water with the geothermal heat Salt Verk are able to produce a flaky salt which I am proud to use in my kitchen, and one whose flavour, in my (biased) opinion, cannot be beaten!

3. Vatnsfjörður Fjord

Vatnsfjörður Dig(c)wikipedia

Archaeological Site

The area of Vatnsfjörður is a shining gem for all those interested in the history of Iceland. It is from this fjord that the seat of power of the Vatnsfirðingar clan, one the richest and most powerful families in Iceland in the 12th and 13th centuries controlled their people. Archaeological excavations have been taking place there since 2003, and have shown that the history of the farm goes all the way back to the 10th century, the time of the first settlers, when there was a large house, a smithy, and several other farm buildings. The turf roofed farm was occupied right up until the present day, and at the top of a large mound, a 19th century house is also being excavated, which is revealing many fascinating details of life in the more recent past.

4. Mjóífjörður Fjord

Heydalur Hot Pool(c)HeydalurAdventure Valley

Heydalur Geothermal Hot Pools

The Westfjords are the oldest part of Iceland geographically speaking, leading to the unique and inspiring landscape that we live within. Due to this age and also isolated location the abundance of natural hot water is much lower than on the mainland of Iceland and natural springs are few and far between. One area with no such problem is that of the Heydalur valley at the base of Mjóífjörður fjord, here natural hot water can be found in abundance with the local farmers of Heydalur tapping into this valuable natural resource, not only for the creation of relaxing hot pools for bathing, but also an indoor swimming pool come greenhouse, a unique place in Iceland where you can relax in the naturally warm water surrounded by luscious fruit trees and grape vines.

5. Skötufjörður Fjord

Hvítanes Seals(c)Súðavíkurhreppur

Hvítanes

As you drive along the West side of the Skötufjörður fjord be sure to keep an eye out for the Hvítanes seal colony, one of Iceland’s largest easily accessible seal colonies, where large numbers of Harbour seals can be found sunning and relaxing on the rocks just meters from the shore.

The friendly farmers of the nearby Hvítanes farm have set up some picnic benches where you can also borrow a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at these fun and playful animals.

6. Hestfjörður Fjord

Arctic Fox at Folafót(c)Arctic Fox Centre

Folafót

Folafót is a wildlife and nature enthusiasts dream with the uninhabited peninsula teeming with birdlife on its cliffs, meadows and shores along with playful seals in its surf and a chance to spot the elusive Arctic fox amid the varied and bountiful plant life. The unique geography of the peninsula, with a thin „bottle neck“ allows for an easy hiking loop around the beautiful Hestur (Horse) mountain, where (apart from the wildlife) amazing and interesting rock and stone formations can be found along the beaches and a beautiful waterfall awaits the adventurous!

7. Seyðisfjörður

View over Súðavík frm Kambsnes(c) þorður sigurdsson

Kambsnes

On the tip of the Western tip of Seyðisfjörður fjord you will find a beautiful lookout point at the area called Kambsnes. From this elevated peninsula you command views over many of Djúpiðs fjords as well as North over Vígur and Æðey islands onward to the Snæfjallaströnd peninsula and beyond to the mighty Drangajökull glacier. Westward facing you are looking directly towards the villages of Súðavík under the protection of Kofri mountain, a view which truly puts into scale the magnitude and power of the Westfjords.(you can also just about see my house..its the blue one!)

8. Álftafjörður Fjord

Valagil from a distance(c) Súðavíkurhreppur

Valagil

At the bottom of the Álftafjörður fjord you will find the trail head of ancient hiking paths which connect the area with those of Ísafjörður and Þingeyri. It is a short walk from here that you will reach the thunderous and locally popular Valagil waterfalls and canyon where water cascades from the mountains above over a series of powerful falls.

Finally no list of Djúpið can be complete without its jewel..

9. Vígur Island

Vígur Puffins(c)unknown

The picturesque Vígur island sits just 4kms from the coast in the middle of Ísafjarðadjúp and is one of the most popular destinations for travellers to the Westfjords who get there by boat from Ísafjörður town to take in the feeling of simpler times that the island exudes. Vígur is home to Iceland’s smallest post office, only windmill and huge and varied birdlife including puffins and a large colony of Eider ducks from which the islands resident family makes its living, collecting feathers during the spring and summer and cleaning and drying them during the winter ready for sale.

Hopefully this list will have sparked an interest in you to slow down and stop alittle longer in this oft bypassed paradise, and when you do you will see that this list is just the tip of the iceberg and a whole world of under-explored treasures awaits you.

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