Hornstrandir is the northernmost peninsula in the Westfjords of Iceland, the area became a nature reserve in 1975. Back in the days there was some farming in Hornstrandir but it came to an end in the mid 20th century. Most lands in Hornstrandir where small and farming was difficult due to extreme weather and the terrain. For living people had to either hunt birds or go fishing. The last inhabitant of the area lived in Hesteyri but he moved away in 1952. There was a lighthouse keeper in Hornbjargsvita until 1995 but since then no one has lived in Hornstrandir.
Yrsa Sigurðardóttir is one of Iceland’s most beloved writer, she mostly writes crime novels. She wrote a book that took place in Hesteyri in Hornstrandir, the book is a ghost story and is called Ég Man Þig or I Remember You. The book was very popular in Iceland as well as worldwide and a film was made from the book. We don’t recommend watching the movie or read the book before visiting the area unless you want to add some scary excitement to the trip.
The landscape in Hornstrandir is spectacular and the area is characterized by the untouched nature with low impact from people and grazing animals. The area has been formed by volcanic eruptions and there you will find lava fields and some of the oldest rocks of Iceland, about 12-16 million years old. Even though some areas in Hornstrandir are raw lava fields the area is also rich in vegetation but around 260 species of plants can be found in Hornstrandir.
There are many beautiful fjords in Hornstrandir and very high bird cliffs. Over 30 species of birds nest in Hornbjarg cliffs, Hælavíkurbjarg cliffs and Riturinn cliffs. It is also common to see foxes in Hornstrandir but they are protected and because of that they can be very gentle. Seals can often be spotted at the shore and sometimes polar bears float on icebergs from Greenland to Hornstrandir.
It is not possible to drive to Hornstrandir as all motor traffic is prohibited as well as horses. From mid June to mid August there are scheduled boat trips from Ísafjörður and Bolungarvík to Hornstrandir. It is also possible to walk to Hornstrandir but it takes a few days. It is allowed to walk around the nature reserve but it is very important to make sure the environment is not damaged in any way and to leave the area as it was when you came.
It is a unique experience to travel around Hornstrandir and the area offers many interesting hiking trails. However, it is important to keep a few things in mind before a journey to Hornstrandir. As previously mentioned there are no residents in Hornstrandir and therefore no service. Tourists must be well prepared and study the area before arriving. The weather can be very extreme and changes very fast, one minute it is sunshine but the next one it is foggy and cold. It is important to bring good equipment and clothing for all weather conditions. There are campsites in Hornstrandir and it is necessary to bring a good tent.
It is also possible to book day tours to Hornstrandir.
What to bring:
- Clothing for all weather conditions
- Hiking shoes
- Cooking utensil
- Map and GPS
- First aid