At only two kilometres long and four hundred metres wide, it’s no surprise that Vigur has been home to the same family of farmers for generations. This tour begins with a forty-minute boat ride around the coast of the island for an opportunity to see some of its abundant birdlife in their natural environment, before switching to a walking tour around some impressive man-made relics from Vigur’s traditional farming past.
The island is home to Iceland’s oldest windmill, which was built in 1840 and used for the grinding of wheat imported from Denmark. Despite being decommissioned in 1917 the windmill has been carefully maintained – as has another extraordinary attraction, a two hundred-year-old, eight-oared rowing boat, which is still being used to ferry sheep to the mainland today.
Many of the houses on Vigur date back to the last century, including Viktoria House, which was erected in 1862 from pre-cut Norwegian wood and subsequently restored in 1993 by the National Museum of Iceland. Another notable house was built in 1884 by a young priest, the descendants of whom still populate the island.
After finishing the tour, prior to returning to the mainland, coffee and cakes will then be served in a mid-19th century cowshed that has been restored into a beautiful and welcoming reception area.
Please note that after mid-August the sighting of sea birds cannot be guaranteed, due to fluctuations in seasonal weather.
This tour of the isolated Westfjords of Iceland offers a comprehensive view of life and culture in the region, emphasising the human struggle to survive in such a beautiful but unforgiving landscape.
Bolungarvík and Ósvör Fisherman’s Hut is our first destination. This museum is housed in a series of traditional turf-and-stone shacks where the guide, dressed in a typical sheepskin outfit, will explain the history of the area and local methods for salting fish.
Not far from the museum is the church of Hólskirkja or “the church on the hill”, built in 1908 and containing several interesting pieces, including two grand bells used to drive away the phantoms that supposedly still reside on the nearby heath.
Tungudalur Valley is home to a beautiful waterfall and meadow where we will stop for some photo opportunities on our way to the town of Ísafjörður, the largest settlement in the Westfjords and one of the main cultural and trading centres in Iceland.
After a leisurely stroll around the town’s historic buildings, our last destination will be the Maritime Museum, which features an array of artefacts and information about the region’s fishing industry throughout the centuries. Here you will be able enjoy a snack of Icelandic refreshment – schnapps, dried fish or shark – whilst browsing the exhibits.
Looking out over the Denmark Strait towards Greenland on the edge of the Arctic Circle, Hornstrandir is Iceland’s most northern peninsula. In 1975 it became a designated Nature Reserve and is a popular destination for those seeking a truly authentic wilderness experience.
Its capital is the tiny village of Hesteyri, which has remained largely untouched since the 1950s, when the last remaining farmers decided to abandon their homes and return to the mainland. Some of their descendants still make use of these old properties as holiday cabins, but on the whole Hesteyri has become something of a time capsule and is notable for never having seen any motor vehicles.
During the crossing by boat from Isafjordur you will enjoy some spectacular views of the glacial fjords before stepping ashore on the beach for a short guided walk around the village and its surroundings. During your time on Hornstrandir you may be lucky enough to spot some of the indigenous fauna, which consists mostly of arctic foxes, nesting birds and seals. Following the walk, traditional Icelandic refreshments will be served inside the old doctor’s house at Hesteyri, where your guide will be able to explain more about the history of the island. The tour will then return to Isafjordur in good time for dinner on-board Aegean Odyssey.