Drangsnes, Steingrímsfjörður, Westfjords, Iceland.
“You want to eat here?” Koen asked me. We had been strolling through the small village of Drangsnes and its fabulous coastline. The place we had our eye on, lied next to the sea, giving us all the best views on the island of Grímsey, lying further in Steingrímsfjörður. As we were getting installed, I had full sight on an advertisement photo above the bar. It displayed at least a dozen puffins. Knowing Koen wouldn’t be able to resist, I nodded to the sign. “Should we…” “Oh, but you’re lucky.” The bar owner said, while handing over the menu. Our boat is leaving in an hour; we were just waiting for too more people to be able to sail out! We need a minimum of 4.” With a big smile we quickly ate our lunch.
At the dock we met the energetic lady that would be our guide. As a former teacher she had all the tools to let us discover the island of Grímsey and all its beauty. She couldn’t have started our trip better, for the first thing she did, was telling us a story. An old legend about how the land surrounding us, came to be. (Interested in my interpretation of the story? Click here.)
As we sailed closer to the island, the first puffins greeted us from the air. Flying over us, up to the water and back. Their flight mimicking the waves of water underneath them. While we sailed around the cliffs of Grímsey, it became clear that the island is not only home to a dense population of Puffins, but also to a dozen other seabirds.
Once on land, we first had to learn how to walk, for the grass was home to many invisible holes, lying under the grass. No problem according to our guide, as she laughingly let herself fall in the long grass. “If you should misstep, just gently fall down and no harm will come to your feet. Don’t be afraid to fall, look it fun!”
It is on land that the vast knowledge of our guide really emerges. Point at any plant and she knew its name and what is was used for. The whole history of the island was laid out while we made a circle on the island. From the last people that lived here, over fox hunting to the scientist who monitored the bird population.
And did we see those birds. Flying to the sea from their nests under the cliffs. A thousand birds we passed, sitting on the rocks and in the high grass. Enjoying the sun, feeding and flying in the air. I have never met a more photogenic animal. Proudly wearing its colours. Take a leap for that wind and fly.
No better place to watch the puffins in the Westfjords of Iceland. Even Látrabjarg doesn’t come close. You get a boat trip and unpayable knowledge from a guide during a walking trip on top. The whole journey took about 2 hours, after which you can rest and enjoy to hot tubs of Drangsnes next to the sea.
Dear guide, I don’t remember your name, but you were one of the best guides we ever encountered. If you ever happen to read this, thank you. The world would be a better place if all people’s eyes would twinkle as yours when they see the beauty of their surroundings.