Hvalvatnsfjörður Bay, Iceland

Unexpected Adventures on the Remote Hvalvatnsfjörður Bay

It is rarely attempted and even more rarely achieved, but Expedition Leader Rob and Captain Dag triumphed over the Iceland weather! Faced with a forecast of strong winds all along the northern coast, they found the one spot with merely blustery winds, the uninhabited bay of Hvalvatnsfjörður, and made that our destination for the day.

As far as anyone knows, this has never been visited by an expedition ship before, and is reachable only by a long 4×4 track, so we expected beautiful wilderness and complete solitude for The World. Well, beautiful wilderness it was – but complete solitude it was not. We were soon joined by three – count them, three – other vehicles, and then – a helicopter! It turned out that a hiker had gotten stranded overnight on one of the mountains framing the bay, and had been able to direct Search and Rescue to his location by telling them “Well, there’s a large white ship in the bay.” The World also assisted in spotting the hiker high on the mountainside, and his retrieval was efficiently accomplished by Iceland’s volunteer mountaineer rescue force.

After that brief excitement, we did indeed have Hvalvatnsfjördur to ourselves. And what a glorious spot it was! The glacial valley is framed by snow-spangled peaks, and filled with broad green meadows stretching inland from the black sand beach and lagoon lake.

This was a perfect setting for the long hikers, who made it up the mountainside all the way to the first patches of snow, and for the rest of us, who strolled beside the valley meadows while learning about geology, ornithology, botany, and lichenology from the EYOS naturalists.

Hvalvatnsfjördur also proved to be ideal for our kayakers. Just a few hundred yards from the beach, a lovely waterfall cascaded down a precipitous cliff and plunged directly into the sea.

What a perfect objective for kayak exploration! The giddy smiles on the kayakers’ faces as they came back aboard were the best possible testimonials to another extraordinary day in Iceland.

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