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Iceland West Fjords Running Adventure
If you’re a trail runner, this running adventure to Iceland’s Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is an absolute must. The region of the West Fjords is so remote that a 60ft sailboat will be your base for the week allowing you to run trails otherwise inaccessible to other travellers. Pristine and unspoilt landscapes await you and your running shoes on this six day adventure.
- Run up to 30km a day on otherwise inaccessible trails through this remote corner of Iceland
- Enjoy being immersed in the wilderness on a 60 foot sloop equipped with all the amenities you need
- Explore some of Iceland’s largest bird cliffs including the world’s largest colony of Guillemots, and dozens of other beautiful bird species
- A chance to see Orcas, Minke and Humpback whales as well as porpoises, dolphins and the protected Arctic Fox
- Discover flora such as Angelica, Cotton Grass, Arctic Poppy, Wild Thyme, and Moss Campion
The Hornstrandir Nature Reserve has been uninhabited for over 60 years. Because there are no roads, you’ll use an expedition sail boat as a base camp. Sailing around the reserve allows you wider access to experience new and inspiring trails as you anchor in a different spot each night. Fulfil your loftiest trail dreams with runs in places like the enchanting Aoalvik Bay and enjoy both the profound silence and the abundant wildlife of this stunning part of the world.
The journey begins in Isafjorour, from which you’ll sail through the reserve to the cliffs of Hornbjarg, through the fishing village of Látrar last inhabited in 1952, and finally to the lowlands and abandoned settlement in Hesteyri. Enjoy up to 30km of running each day including a unique run through the ruins of an old 19 century whaling station. .
Explore deep green valleys overflowing with wild flowers, towering cliffs, beautiful beaches and seemingly bottomless fjords. This is a running rather than sailing adventure however being on board the sailboat adds huge value to the experience. Not only will you get to explore some exciting destinations but the boat deck offers a perfect viewing platform to spot Orca, Minke, and Humpback whales and at the end of a long day the boat and its crew await you with a delicious hot meal, great conversation, and a warm bunk to rest up for the next day’s adventure.
The final itinerary will only be decided upon when we leave Ísafjörður harbour. Below is the most likely itinerary but we will take into account weather and other conditions and always look for the best possible option.
We meet up at the information center in the town of Ísafjörður at 3pm ready dressed to run. We have a chance to meet and run in the town and it’s surroundings. After the run it is possible to go back to the guesthouse or the swimming pool, the shops for last minute preparation, even meet up for dinner before heading to the harbour and meet with our expedition sailboat and our captain. We depart from Ísafjörður sailing at 7pm. Sailing to Lónsfjörður Fjord which will take 3-4 hours, and we will anchor in the fjord.
Distance: 10 – 15 km running
We do not sail today but go onshore and run towards the lighthouse of Hornbjargsviti on the other side of the peninsula. We will now be in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, where flora and fauna rule unchallenged and unspoiled. There are no roads in this area and the only access is by boat. Hornvík is home to many Arctic Foxes—we will be on the lookout for their dens, where we hope to observe the adult foxes and their cubs. From the lighthouse and the beautiful cliffs and water streams around we find our way to the bay of Hornvík where we will find our sailboat again.
Distance: 20 – 25 km running
We will focus on the magnificent bird cliffs of Hornbjarg to survey the seabird colonies nesting here. We will run up and along the length of the cliffs, where we will primarily see in the cliffs Common Guillemot, Brünnich Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar and Kittiwake. It is estimated that there are about 1 million breeding pairs of Guillemot in Hornvík and Hælavík. Twice every day huge flocks of Kittiwake gather for a fresh water bath in the river and in a particular lake. This is a very captivating sight and we will try to make time for a short run into the valley to see this. We may also see Whooper Swans, Ringed Plover, Arctic Skua, Snow Bunting, Purple Sandpipers and Red Necked Phalaropes.
Distance: 25 km running
We start the day by going onshore and start to run towards abandoned farm of Látrar further west. Látrar was a fishing village in the 19th and 20th century and it’s name derives from seals going onshore on the peninsula. It was a village with 120 inhabitants but little by little people moved away until it was completely abandoned in 1952. Today we will also witness rich birdlife although going further away from the well known bird cliffs of Hornbjarg.
Distance: 30 km running
First run of the day is up a mountain by the bay where various war ruins can be seen. After getting to the top, we will be able to see two telecommunications stations built by the US military in the fifties but only used for few years. It is also possible to relax in the morning if you don’t feel like running the whole day and meet with the group at lunch.
Continuing our journey we will enter Jökulfirðir and run to the abandoned settlement of Hesteyri, where we will anchor for the night. While the last residents of Hesteyri moved away in the 1950´s, many of them maintain their old residences and use them as summerhouses. We will explore the old village and take a short walk along its exquisite sandy beaches.
We will be watchful for Harlequin Ducks, which are both beautiful and engaging to observe. Iceland is their only breeding ground in Europe. We also hope to see Purple Sandpipers, Ringed Plovers, Golden Plovers, Common Snipe, Oystercatcher and Long Tailed Ducks. Given this rich profusion of bird life, we expect to see the Arctic Foxes that inhabit this area.
Distance: 30 km running
At Hesteyri the vegetation is surprisingly lush. Over two meter high Angelica grows down to the coast, and the lowlands and slopes are decorated by spreading patches of Wood Crane’s-bill, Fleabanes, Cotton Grass, Lady Smock and a profusion of other wildflowers. In the rocky and sandy areas we also have flowers such as Wild Thyme, Oysterplant, Arctic Poppy, Roseroot, Moss Campion and Thrift. Later in the summer and in the hills, we can find Crowberries (Blackberries) and Blueberries (Bilberries).
During the morning we have several options for wonderful runs. We can run to the ruins of the old whaling station where Norwegians processed around 12,000 barrels of whale-oil between 1894 and 1915 when the Icelandic government passed a law on the protection of whales in Icelandic waters. Subsequently, Icelandic companies processed herring in the same plant until it was finally shut down around 1940.
After our morning run we start our sail back to the town of Ísafjörður. En route we may see Orcas, Minke and Humpback whales as well as porpoises and dolphins. After approximately 3-4 hours of sailing we will conclude our running adventure in Ísafjörður, arriving around 4pm.
Distance: 10 – 15 km running
This is a running adventure trip not a sailing trip. We will of course cruise under sail whenever conditions allow but the expedition sailboat primarily serves as our movable backcountry hut, the best option to access interesting and exciting destinations and enjoy great activities on land and at sea. At the end of the day she will await us with gourmet meals, warm and comfortable bunks, and friendly conversation.
Date: 2nd – 7th of July 2018
Price: 300,000 ISK per person
Deposit for booking: 75,000 ISK per person
- Airport transfer in Ísafjörður
- 6 days (5 nights) on a sailboat
- Sailing instruction for those who want
- Services of running guides and crew
- Guided trail runs and land excursions
- Use of wet weather sailing clothing
- Use of sea kayaks and SUP´s (optional, please enquire)
- Guided paddling in sea kayaks amongst the fjords (please enquire)
- All meals for the duration of the trip. Alcohol, wine or beer is NOT included.
The trip starts at Ísafjörður harbour. Airport transfer is referring the transfer from Ísafjörður airport to the harbour.
Snacks will be provided on the trip. Every morning the group make your “lunch” to take with you on the runs. These normally include sandwiches and snacks (dried fruits, biscuits, chocolate etc), everybody carries their own.
The guided paddling is for those who want on the trip. We bring the paddle boards on the sailboat if somebody wants to go for paddling (for example in the afternoon after the run).
Founded by one of the most notable running specialists in Iceland and Greenland, this operator specialises in offering trips that combine running with the chance to explore some of Iceland and Greenland’s most breathtaking natural environments.
They offer a unique selection of running tours and events with something for every level of runner, from demanding and strenuous runs of 20 – 35 km per day to moderate runs with 5 – 10km per day.
Iceland West Fjords Running Adventure
- Trip Code: AWA320
- Dates: 2 – 7 July 2018
- Price: 300,000 ISK
- Depart: Ísafjörður, Iceland
- Arrive: Ísafjörður, Iceland
- Length: 6 days
- Adventure: A sailboat is your base on this running adventure through the remote West Fjords of Iceland.