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Iceland Cruise 2023 – Seydisfjordur

Arriving in Seydisfjordur early Monday morning, we needed to be up early as we had an onshore trip to look forward to. This was the boat trip to the Skálanes Bird Cliffs. The cliffs are at the mouth of the fjord about 14km away. We were to have had breakfast and be ready and waiting in the Neptune lounge theatre for further instructions by just gone 8:00 AM. By that time we had already been allocated our time slots for pre-booked tours and we would be first off.

Organisation of tours was pretty good and instructions were clear. We made our way to the dis-embarkment gangway and took the short walk to the awaiting small craft. There were less than 20 per trip and only one boat. So we got on board and off we went looking forward to seeing some of the numerous nesting birds on the 640m high Skálanes cliffs, or so we thought.

The day started off very overcast with a low cloud base, but visibility on the water was fine. We set off down the fjord and the boat soon picked up its pace, and after a short while the throttle was opened and the boat began to speed along. About 2km out there was a disconcerting smell and shortly after the boat was backed off. Once settled the pilot tried once more to open it up but to no avail. It was decided to return back to the ship.

Now, at this stage I must admit I was pretty disappointed as I had been really looking forward to this trip. Once back at the ship the boat crew said they would take it to be fixed or get a replacement but that would take a while. Unfortunately no cruise staff were around to help out. They were all doing a safely drill on the dock side. I didn’t see this being a quick fix and didn’t want to waste our time, so decided to take a walk up to the Budareyrarfoss waterfall then into the town. It turns out they did return with a boat for a second trip later in the morning but that too was aborted due to technical problems.

If I had some advice for Fred Olsen it would be this. Ensure there is guide assigned to the trip at the point where the trip starts, and may go wrong, to ensure paying passengers are not left in the lurch. Secondly, on reflection, we were never at any point offered a life jacket for this fast boat journey up a deep and freezing cold fjord. True I didn’t ask for one but I didn’t know the circumstances I was going into. I feel that should have been an essential, given where we were heading. A full refund and apology was later given.

It did not spoil our impression of Seydisfjordur, it is a beautiful fjord and an interesting little town that only got better as the day went on and the clouds lifted and the sun shone on the beautiful mountains around us. I will do a post on the Budareyrarfoss waterfall later, but for this post I will stick to the town and surrounding fjord.

The town of Seydisfjordur sits at the head of the fjord and has a population of about 700 people. You can of course get there by car, but it’s well worth arriving and departing up the fjord for a great view of the surrounding area, especially if the sun is shining, and it was. There are a few cafes and gift shops to visit, but just walking around and seeing the colourful houses and admiring the scenery worked just fine for us.

In the background you can see earth works continuing. These are preventative measures necessary due to a severe landslide that happened in 2020. The landslide happened at the side of Budareyrarfoss waterfall and the scars are still visible. It required the evacuation of the town and many houses and a museum were damaged. The stories of those who were worst affected are told in a series of information boards next to the harbour. You can read their stories @ thelandslideproject.com.

The houses and other buildings are very colourful and make a pleasant change from the dull colourless stone and brick built properties. Many are still made of coated corrugated iron that can take on any colour. Accented by the structural columns and roof it allows for the designer to form a unique palette that complements surrounding properties and yet is still in keeping with the locality.

Some information from the surrounding area.

It was back to the ship for lunch and a rest, then as the sun burned through the low cloud we had an ever clearing view of the surrounding fjord and mountains. The top deck of the ship was an ideal vantage point to see all around and take some more photos.

As the sun burned away the clouds, we had our first clear sighting of the big mountains overlooking the town. There are 7 peaks or tindur (pl.tindar) above 930m or 3000ft, around Seydisfjord. Coming from England, we only have 6 peaks of that size in the whole country, with the highest Scarfed Pike at just 978m. The photo below shows the ridge from left, Strandartindur (1010m) across Dagmalátindur, Miðtindur, and onto Hádegistindur (1125m). Complete the ‘Seven Peaks Hike’ and earn the title of Seydisfjordur Mountain Viking. Another time perhaps.

One of the great bonuses of a crude ship is the vantage point. They are relatively tall. So taking photos from the top deck does give a unique perspective that otherwise would need a drone.

Seydisfjordur from the cruise ship

Looking north-west across the fjord, in the photo below, there are the steep slopes of another one of the 7 peaks, Bjólfur (1085m). The highest peak, Sandhólatindur (Shark Head) (1154m) is beyond, still in the clouds.

As we sailed back down the fjord on the south side are a group, below from the left, Flanni, Bægsli, Hánefsstaða. Bægsli (938m) being one of the 7 peaks. Beyond Bægsli is another peak out of view, Snjófjölltindur (1028m).

Bægsli Flanni Hánefsstaða peaks - Seydisfjordur

Beyond Flanni lay the Skálanes cliffs that we had wanted to visit. Even at this time they were still shrouded in mist. A visit would need to be times well with patience required if you were to et the rest photographic conditions.

Bægsli- Flanni - out to Skálanes

Some of the man made features that accent the natural surroundings.

On the north side, a relatively small addition, the Brimnesviti Lighthouse. Inhabited by only sheep and geese. The colourful lichen on the rocks almost looks like the hot magma trying to escape.

Brimnesviti Lighthouse

Out to sea past the Skalanes peninsula.

Skalanes

Into the midnight sun, across the arctic circle and onward to Akureyri.

Iceland midnight sun

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