Iceland - Breidafjördur, Flatey and Grundafjordur

Rodrigo Moterani, Video Chronicler

  • Daily Expedition Reports
  • 27 Jul 2021

Iceland - Breidafjördur, Flatey and Grundafjordur, 7/27/2021, National Geographic Explorer

  • Aboard the National Geographic Explorer
  • Iceland

Our days are filled with diversity. One day embeds memories in our minds that subsequently might seem to have occurred on two. But putting them together, we begin to see the true picture of the land we visit—the island bathed by the warm Gulf Stream yet hinged to the Arctic Circle.

 

This morning was for the birds. Yes, really. It was filled with the creaking calls of Arctic terns as they summoned their young to partake in lessons in finding sustenance. Frequently their message became a harsh staccato call that warned of a potential aerial attack upon our unsuspecting skulls. “Turn about,” they said. “Don’t come any closer to our nesting spot or our meandering progeny.”

 

Flatey is just that, the flat island, ground to a slightly rolling surface by a scouring glacial advance. The sea nibbled the edges, leaving rocky faces and jumbling rocks which invited a myriad of avian species besides the noisy terns. Puffins bobbed just offshore or frantically flapped their way towards the land, beaks laden with small schooling fish, a clue that their pufflings were still snuggled into the safety of burrows. Fulmars claimed small ledges or soared effortlessly along the bluffs while at the water’s edge a plethora of shorebirds and eider ducks fed. Kittiwakes constantly called their names to remind us who they were, as they came and went from their cup-shaped nests on a nearby tiny islet.

 

Birds were not the only residents of Flatey. Colorful summer homes lined the small, protected harbor, the latest evidence of the succession of human inhabitants on the island. For almost nine hundred years, Flatey has attracted monks, traders, farmers, fisherman, and now tourists. Contented sheep grazed in the lush grasses. Mesmerizing, dramatic clouds drifted above a tiny church made famous by the murals contained within.

 

As we sailed south, backtracking only a small distance, guest speaker, Ragna Arnadottir explained the causes of the Icelandic bank collapse of 2008 and the subsequent lessons learned.

 

Snaefellsness forms the southern boundary of wide Breidafjordur. By midafternoon we were secured to the dock in Grundarfjorden and ready to stretch our legs enroute to the roaring waters of Kirkjufellsfoss. Some hoped to capture images of the mountain Kirkjufell made famous in the TV series, “Game of Thrones.” But most forgot that motive when rapidly immersed in the lush green vegetation dotted by colorful wildflowers that lined our hiking trail. Everywhere waterfalls cascaded from on high until the roar of Kirkjufellsfoss dominated our attention. By then the skies had clouded over and the promise of precipitation encouraged a timely return to our cozy accommodations and the feast awaiting us there.

 

Will tomorrow be another two-for-one day? It certainly looks that way.

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