Hornstrandir is a reserve located northeast of the western fjords. In principle, the northern tip of this park is the most northerly point in mainland Iceland.

Hornstrandir

The reserve is a paradise with no signs of civilization, and a diverse selection of landscape over a relatively small area of about 350 square miles. We called it the playground of God. The reserve contains impressive and scenic weird and wacky forms, and everything seems to have been primarily placed here before placing it on any other part of the planet. This is the main reason not to visit here, as it takes some effort that also involves quite a lot of money and time. The benefit is that the reserve is practically barren with no signs of settlement, offering a unique nature experience. At the end of season, you will find yourself in a place with a smaller number of travelers. Hornstrandir serves as Iceland's main conservation area for the arctic fox.

Hiking in the Reserve

The reserve is small but fascinating. One day tours are available here, a circular trail, including an overnight stay) or even up to a week to see all that the reserve has to offer. There are no specific points of attraction in the reserve, and the entire reserve provides visitors with a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Hornbjarg, a sharp pointed cliff in the northeast corner of the park, is one of the most beautiful sites, whose pictures are used to advertise the reserve, and the Adalvik Gulf is spectacular at sunset.

Accommodation in the Reserve

Accommodation is in tents in pre-marked camping places. There are also cabins available, but they are usually reserved for those who book guided tours. If you are interested in sleeping in a cabin, check out this link for the "Doctor's House" in Hesteyri: Http://www.hesteyri.net/print.asp?id=509&fl = 51 which can accommodate up to 16 people in sleeping bags, and there are toilets and showers. The campsites located throughout the reserve have no showers for travelers and the toilets are squat toilets. Camping here is free of charge, which is an advantage and balances the cost of arrival expenses.

How to get there?

The reserve is accessible via ferry from Ísafjörður, the biggest town in the western fjords. Ferries run between mid-June and mid-August only (during other months boats can be rented to reach the reserve, but off-season trips are intended for experienced extreme travelers only). The ferry can reach many points in the reserve, but the schedule is very spacious and each day only some of the points are accessible.

The trip itself takes about 45 minutes to an hour and a quarter. The ferries can be booked online in advance, but it is recommended to visit the main tourist information center in Ísafjörður and consult with them regarding available hiking trails and ferries. Please note, you must book a return ferry in advance, so you will need to plan and know how long you stay in the reserve. This is vital, as there is no way to communicate from the isolated reserve. Also, keep in mind that the Icelandic concept of time is flexible, and ferries may arrive a few minutes late or even more. However, it is always recommended to be punctual and even arrive a few minutes beforehand, in case they are flexible the other way around and arrive earlier! The price per person for a round-trip, is not particularly cheap, ranging from 40 to 70 dollars.

Pay Attention!

Hornstrandir is one of the most difficult places to visit in Iceland. This is due to a combination of factors, the isolation of the place from the outside world, no telephone reception, a small amount of visitors during the season margins and weather can drastically and unexpectedly change.

Other obstacles such as wetlands and swamps, lack of signage and marking so you can easily get lost, (sometimes the signs just "stop" existing halfway), freezing nights on the tops of the mountains and sharp, jagged cliffs in some places. Touring here requires navigation knowledge and this is another reason to pre-arrange a return ferry. Park rangers must be on the alert for anyone who fails to arrive to catch the return ferry. In extreme cases, rescue helicopters that cost a lot of money are sent on searches to look for people who decide to underestimate the park rangers and fail to inform them of any delay. If you want to stay longer in the reserve, you can always reach one of the departing ferry ports and let one of the park rangers know and see if it is possible. Therefore, it is always best to have a printed copy of the ferry schedule at hand during your trip.

Before you go it is important to remember!

Things mentioned above have no intention to scare you, this is a magical place to visit and highly recommended. In some cases, even small children can walk around (maybe even better than adults can). Visitors must be aware of risks involved and that vising the reserve requires adhering to a number of things:

  1. Navigation knowledge and knowing how to read a topographical map. Experienced travelers or anyone who has military navigation experience are fine.
  2. Make sure that you have a good topographical map of the park and a compass. Maps can be purchased at the Tourism Office in Hornstrandir.
  3. Consult with Hornstrandir Tourism Office representatives regarding the weather expected in the days when you will be in the reserve (peak summer does not mean that there is no chance of a sudden ice storm and northeast winds are a recipe for trouble. In any case, the weather in Iceland is only 50% predictable).
  4. Take into consideration that the park rangers treat you experienced travelers, when they tell you an estimated time to carry out any trek. If you are not, or like to walk slowly, stop and enjoy the views plan added time!
  5. If you are planning to arrive towards the end of the season (mid-August), you must bring a head torch with you!! (Which goes for any other trip to Iceland during this period, the nights begin to become darker already). In addition, during this period, extra time should be added for each trek whilst planning it as every night it gets dark earlier than the night before and can take travelers by surprise.
  6. Even if you make a circular trek and return to the tent, always ensure to take extra warm clothing in case the weather goes mad (or you are stuck in the middle of the night on top of a mountain - like we were).
  7. Ensuring that one of the park rangers or Tourism Office knows exactly what you are supposed to reach a ferry.
  8. If you have no navigation experience but still want to visit here, there are organized one to several day tours to the reserve. We recommend booking these trips several months in advance, online.

Useful Sites

The official Reserve website:

english.ust.is/National-Parks/Protectedareas/Hornstrandir/

The official abandoned village of Hesteyri website:

www.hesteyri.net/index.asp

Ferry schedule:

www.vesturferdir.is

Map of Hornstrandir