It was pitch dark when I left Reykjavik on a wintery morning. Driving north, the sky finally started to show signs of a coming day only when I reached the beginning of Snæfellnes peninsula. A delicate layer of snow had fallen that night, and the sight of a white landscape, with some jagged clouds that were slowly turning pink and orange in the sky above me, made me stop every few minutes to just marvel at the impressive, wild beauty of Icelandic nature. Shortly thereafter, I drove further north over a mountain pass close to Kerlingarskarð, or Witch Pass; another tell-tale sign of the importance of legends and sagas in Iceland in general, and Snæfellnes in particular. The early winter morning light coloured the sky above me in a dreamy pink and orange, while it allowed me to see the lakes and snow-covered mountains around me. Breathtaking.
After a visit to Stykkishólmur, a relaxed and attractive coastal town with colourful houses, a small, intimate harbour and a modern church, I turned west, and drove through lava fields covered with snow (setting of one of the many tales of Snæfellnes), fjords, black beaches, some inlets of the sea: always more spectacular scenery. Then, suddenly, I spotted the white summit of Snæfellsjökull, the extinct volcano in the west of Snæfellnes peninsula. Even from a distance, you can see that the top of the volcano is missing; indeed, the glacial cap covering the volcano exploded when the volcano underneath erupted, giving shape to an enormous caldera. You can only appreciate the enormous forces of nature when you look at the volcano now.
I visited some places like an old Irish well on my way west, and drove along the coast to the westernmost tip of the peninsula through rough lava fields, lava cliffs against which the Atlantic waves were crushing, and always with Snæfellsjökull volcano dominating the landscape. I climbed Saxhöll, a small and extinct volcano, before continuing to Hellnar where I parked my car. Light snow started to swirl down from the sky as I started walking a coastal track towards Arnarstapi. With the mountain range of central Snæfellnes as a horizon, the view of wild lava formations both on land and just off the coast, and a very clear Atlantic Ocean on my right, this was yet another example of great Icelandic land and seascapes. Before darkness enveloped the peninsula for the rest of the day, I made an excursion to Sönghellir, or Singing Cave, a small cave where dwarfs are supposed to come and sing. The absolute silence around me, the falling darkness and the wintery setting made for a special atmosphere in which I could almost start to believe Icelandic sagas and legends myself.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Snæfellsnes (Iceland). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Snæfellsnes. Read more about this site.