Icelanders have always had a dislike for the beautiful Hvalfjörður fjord. Until 1998, when traveling away from Reykjavík to enjoy the western or northern part of the country, they had to endure a 62 km detour around the fjord on Highway 1. It was an irritating detour. Few were inclined to admire the splendid nature surrounding them, while driving along a gravel road. There was simply too much dust. For those traveling to Reykjavík, the detour was wasted time. Then, in 1998 the tunnel Hvalfjarðargöng was opened to traffic. The dust in Hvafjörður settled, and this beautiful area rejoined nature. Nowadays, the Icelanders are learning to appreciate its wonders and its hiking trails are fast becoming quite popular.
At the innermost part of Hvalfjordur, you'll find two valleys, Brynjudalur valley and Botnsdalur valley. High above Botnsdalur valley rises the mountain Hvalfell (852 m above sea level) and behind it lies the mountain lake Hvalvatn that is the fourth deepest in Iceland.
Giant glacier tongues formed the two valleys. During ice age an eruption formed the mountain Hvalfell. It filled up the bottom of the valley and formed a natural barrier that impounded lake Hvalvatn. The outflow channel of the lake is named Botnsa River. From this river cascades down the highest waterfall in Iceland, known as Glymur, a 198 meters tall.
The fjord's name, Hvalfjörður means the Whale fjord. It is derived from a large number of whales that used to make the fjord their habitat. Iceland's largest whaling stations is still operating there.
During World War II, a naval base of the British and American navies could be found in this fjord. The Hvalur whaling company today uses a pier, built by the United States Navy.
The innermost part of the fjord shows an interesting mixture of volcanic mountains and green vegetation in the summertime. At Botnsá you will find Lupines, different sorts of wild flowers and moss, as well as small forests of Birchwood and Conifers.