Published September 5, 2018
Unlike literally every day this entire summer, the morning of our journey to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula with BusTravelIceland was warm and sunny. We were promptly picked up at Lækjargata at 9 AM, and thus we began our magical trip to the famed peninsula.
Halla, our guide, was a human encyclopedia of random facts about Iceland, such as the fact that Icelandic horses have five gaits. Everywhere we drove past, stopped at, and walked through, Halla had lots of information for us, whether mystical, geographic, or historical. Halla’s calm and soothing voice was the perfect narration to our adventurous day through Snæfellsnes.
The last Ice Age
As we drove out of Reykjavík and into Borgarnes and Borgarfjörður, the sun shone down and the landscape opened up before us. The ocean to the left of the road was a sparkling blue, and besides the horizon to our right was the Mount Esja. “The Icelandic Gods have truly blessed us with perfect weather,” Halla said.
As we began to approach Snæfellsjökull, Halla filled us in with some basic geology. She explained that during the last ice age, a huge glacier covered the entire Snæfellsnes peninsula. Their movement caused the glacier to smooth out the mountain peaks, which is why many mountains in Snæfellsnes and the rest of Iceland have flat peaks, like a tabletop. Halla also informed us that the land surrounding Hvalfjördur has risen 185 meters since the last ice age.
The Black Death
Halla continued by sharing some of Hvalfjörður’s history with us. The fjord is home to Iceland’s oldest harbour, and coincidentally, is also where the Black Death entered Iceland as well. Hvalfjörður was also home to both an American and a British naval base.
As Halla’s soothing voice kept us informed of the places we are driving by, I couldn’t help but stare at the stunning landscape. Creeks and rivers weaved through the lava rocks, and the sky was a perfect glacier blue. The dramatic black mountains enveloped us in the magical landscape, and the fog around the peaks constantly shifted in the mysteriously changing weather.
Meet your soulmate!
Afterwards, Halla shared with us her beliefs surrounding the Snæfellsnes peninsula. She believes that it has a very special energy that sensitive people can feel. She also claims that she’s had multiple people fall in love and meet their soulmate after going on her trips to the Snæfellsnes peninsula—making us all promise her that we will message her if we do.
We eventually stopped for lunch in the small village of Grundarfjörður, where we were treated to a special soup meal at Kaffi Emil. Kaffi Emil is a bizarre but homely multi-purpose social hub in the town, which is home to a café, the town library, a cinema, and two museums, a nostalgia museum and a fishing museum.
Following the educational and delicious lunch at Kaffi Emil, we boarded the bus again to head to Kirkjufell, one of Iceland’s most picturesque spots. Kirkjufell (‘church mountain’) is a mountain with a sort of cone shape, and it is directly facing Kirkjufellsfoss, a serene waterfall. It was spectacular to witness in the summer, but one can only imagine how special it must look in the winter under the otherworldly northern lights.
We made two more stops in the afternoon—Hellnar and Arnarstapi. Hellnar is a tiny fishing village that is nonetheless breathtaking with all of its cliffs and deep blue waters. Arnarstapi has a similar landscape to Hellnar, but is a slightly larger town with larger, more striking cliffs, and plenty of shrieking Arctic Tern circling above our heads.
On the way back to Reykjavík, we passed by the exquisite Hotel Búðir, where Halla, our guide, worked when she was younger. She tells us spooky stories about her time living in Hotel Búðir and how she’s convinced that it’s haunted. The area surrounding the hotel is isolated and the house stands alone like a fortress among the valleys and cliffs that it’s nestled in.
We drive back into a surprisingly sunny downtown Reykjavík at eight in the evening feeling sleepy from the cosy bus ride home with our newly opened hearts following our magical day in the mystical region of Snæfellsnes.
About Our Guide:
Name: Halla Himintungl Frímannsdóttir
From: Reykjavík, Iceland
Favourite part of the job: “My favorite part of the job is witnessing pure joy and happiness in the heart of the travelers.”
Strange guide moment: “The strangest moment in my guidance was last summer, when I was touring with 18 people in Snaefellsnes. One person in my group decided to skinny dip at the seal colony. I was not sure if the rest of the group was okay with the guy being naked on the beach but it all turned out to be a great laugh, especially when he came out of the water and his private part had almost disappeared due to the ice cold sea.”