I received feedback last week that hit me over the head like a boulder – somehow this travel writer has completely neglected to include any maps whatsoever on her travel blog. A shabby state of affairs! I set out this afternoon to make amends, and in the tradition of world explorers throughout history, hand drew my own crude maps to illustrate my upcoming trip to Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
Obviously, as these are hand-drawn, my maps are not to scale and the fjord-heavy coastlines are not perfectly outlined. However, they are rather good approximations, if I do say so myself.
So here’s the plan for 6 weeks of exploration:
I will be flying into Reykjavik, Iceland for a of couple days before hopping another plane out to Greenland’s southwest coast into the airport town of Narsarsuaq. This region was once the home of the Norse, including Viking Leif Erikson. While Narsarsuaq is not much beyond its airport, I will be hiking the region, staying at local hostels and sheep farms and exploring the region’s Norse settlement ruins.
Then back to Iceland!
After a few days enjoying big city life in Reykjavik, I’ll start my tour of the island country, starting in Stykkisholmur on the Snaesfellsnes Penninsula, home to Jules Vernes’ “Journey to the Center of the Earth” science fiction classic, set at the tip of the peninsula where the Snaesfellsnes Glacier lies. Then on to the wild and storied West Fjords, crossing the Breidafjord by ferry and continuing on by bus up to Isafjordur. The West Fjords are as remote as it gets in Iceland and I am looking forward to seeing the abandoned settlement of Hesteyri and kayaking the fjords.
To save time, I’ll then hop a plane to Akureyri, the small city on the northern coast with a thriving art and cafe scene. In Husavik, I’ll fit in some whale watching, then explore the Jokulsargljufur National Park with its dramatic river canyon and waterfalls. A couple of days of camping on the shores of Lake Myvatn will allow me time to hike through a landscape scarred by geothermal activity – volcanoes, hot springs and lava formations.
Then on to Skaftafell National Park in Iceland’s southeast corner, a hiking wonderland of glaciers and waterfalls. In Vik, on the southern coast, I’ll stroll black sand beaches. To finish my journey through Iceland, I’ll catch the ferry out to the Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) and the town of Heimaey, perched just above a hotbed of volcanic activity. Heimaey is an example of the volatility of life in volcanic Iceland – in 1973 a sudden eruption of a fissure formed a brand new volcano on the island overnight and the lava threatened to completely destroy the town. Today the island is great for hiking and seeing puffins.
The final leg of my journey through Norse country will in the Faroe Islands, an island chain halfway between Iceland and Scotland. I’ll station myself in the capital Torshavn and spend my days crisscrossing the islands – hiking along the stunning coastal cliffs, exploring small fishing communities, and birdwatching.
Of course, at some point I have to come home, so sadly I will board a plane and fly back to the States via Iceland.