Stunning, disturbing, romantic, but also dangerous. An ideal setting for a chilling crime novel. Látrabjarg – the westernmost point in Europe.
Insanely beautiful and awe-inspiring cliff called Látrabjarg is situated in the Westfjords, one of our favourite regions in Iceland. The cliff has gained an entire crowd of honourable titles – it is an archduke when it comes to respectability. Certainly, it is one of the most spectacular and most impressive cliffs not only in the whole country but also in the world. It stands proudly as the westernmost point of Europe, besides it is also the largest nesting place of birds on this continent. In the cliff of a length of approximately 14 km and up to 440 m high, in the summer time, you can find millions of bird nests. It is a real birdy nursery – imagine that crazy noise!
This spot is so special, especially because you can find there a significant part of certain bird species population (for example it is estimated that 40% of the world’s razorbills population comes here in the summer). There is a huge number of puffins – the symbols of Iceland, lots of guillemots, northern gannets and much, much more. Water rich in fish is all around, so always hungry bird colonies won’t starve. When you travel around the Westfjords, you simply can’t miss this fascinating place. Certainly, it is one of the top attractions in the area. Save some time to take a long, relaxing stroll and delight in this terrific area.
Have a look at our original Icelandic fine art prints!
Murder by numbers
The trail leads along the cliff, just near the edge, so it will give you an appropriate dose of adrenaline. In this place, you can feel what the vast open space really is. We visited Látrabjarg at the end of September when it was void of loud-mouthed birdy presence. During the walk, the only sound we could hear was the wind, which was a little bit eerie, even when the sun was shining. With the mind’s eye, we could see scenes from crime novels, which we are so fond of. Certainly, it would be a perfect set for a crime movie. Simply imagine – a walk with an inappropriate, treacherous companion, one bad move and… poof! You are falling into the dreadful abyss. Our imagination went crazy, and we hit on some fresh ideas of many creepy stories.
The cliff immersed in complete silence was very appealing to us, but we’d love to get to know Látrabjarg’s other face – when it turns into a noisy bird hotel. The birds stay here only in the summer – from mid-May to mid-August, but not all tourists know about it. We met some Americans who walked on the cliff looking very annoyed because they couldn’t find puffins. They didn’t believe our words that puffins flew away a long time ago, so they were rolling on the cliff’s edge and peering into empty puffins’ dens. (Caution is recommended when looking for the puffins because the cliffs’ edges are very delicate and you can easily fall down. A few years ago a terrible accident happened. One tourist forgot about these recommendations, and after several risky moves he fell from the cliff into the abyss.) Disappointed Americans didn’t feel like continuing the walk, so we stayed alone.
Suddenly, the weather began to change and how it usually happens in Iceland, sunshine transformed into a windy and rainy spectacle, even with the participation of hailstones. We spent a few cheerful hours on the cliff, arranging a photo shoot and also a picnic, so the bad weather attack didn’t spoil our good moods. When the rain changed into hail and when the wind began to blow so incredibly, that it contorted our bodies, we hastily decided to escape from the hills. Imagine our surprise, when we saw a figure looming in the distance. Someone was relentlessly marching toward the peak instead of running away from it in search of some shelter.
Mysterious, hooded wanderer was approaching us, closer and closer. The whole scene began to evoke the crime stories, which we talked about earlier. In the end, when only a few meters were between us, a sturdy man in a black, wide raincoat still didn’t show even a piece of his face. When we were about to pass each other on the path, he suddenly raised his head and laid back the hood cape. Then we heard briskly said ‘Góðan daginn!’ (Hello!) and saw his nice and such a friendly face. A dark walker turned out to be Muggur, a farmer who lives nearby. The weather didn’t impress him at all, and he was sure that in twenty minutes the sun will appear again. In short, it wasn’t going to spoil his hiking plans.
Well, we can do nothing else, but learn from the Icelanders their optimism concerning bad weather. Remember about this, if you have a chance to go for a walk in Látrabjarg.
A gravel road leads to Látrabjarg and its condition is, to put it mildly, not so good. But don’t worry, you can get there even is a small car. You don’t need a 4×4. Remember to fill the tank before starting your journey, because there is no gas station in the area. And forget about any shops.
On Látrabjarg Peninsula, there are many hiking trails, so no matter if you have one or two hours, or even a whole day, there are plenty of options. You can even walk to the Red Sand Beach (Rauðisandur), but you’ll need a whole day for this hike.
12 km from the cliffs there is a big hotel and a camping in Breiðavík, both set in a beautiful scenery. A few dozen kilometres further, close to Rauðisandur, there is a fantastic camping in Melanes, right next to the beach – definitely one of the best in Iceland. Apart from that there aren’t many more overnight options on the peninsula, but we’ve seen that they are building something.