Icelandic, a North Germanic language with over 330,000 native speakers, is the official language of Iceland and the closest equivalent to the language of the Vikings spoken today. Due to Iceland’s cultural insularity and geographic isolation, the Nordic tongue has remained so well preserved that present-day Icelanders can still read ancient Viking texts in their original Old Norse with little to no assistance.

At Þjórsárdalur Iceland

There are so many places you can go to enjoy the beautiful landscape Iceland can offer. Although we have travelled to many of them throughout the years, it was conveniently . As we sailed by the shore in the western part of Barðaströnd in the West Fjords a few years ago, we discovered a whole new way to appreciate the beauty of Iceland. We also sailed farther west in front of the natural old landing place Skor, which has a significant place in Iceland's history.

Surprising to experience the view from the sea

No wonder Iceland is a paradise, and one of the best places on the planet, for birdwatchers. Usually when we are traveling around the country, we see all kinds of birds. The Whooper Swan is a bird we see all the time almost everywhere. There are many landmarks in the Icelandic landscape named after the Whooper Swan everywhere, which tells us that this bird has been around for a long time. At least two fjords are named after the Whooper Swan, Álftafjörður in Snæfellsnes and Álftafjörður in the South East Region. Consequently, both fjords are almost always packed with Whooper Swans.

Iceland is a paradise for birdwatchers

The waterfall Dynjandi is one of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland. It is not the most famous, probably because of the distance from Reykjavík or the main Ring Road, located in Arnarfjörður (The fjord of the Eagle) in the beautiful West Fjords. To stand near such a magnificent creation of nature is a moment to treasure, and visit in your mind in times of urban stress and noise. To take a great photo of such a place is, on the other hand, a matter of timing and time. When we drove by late in the afternoon in July, the sun was above the waterfall shining straight into the camera.

The most impressive waterfalls in Iceland

It is always interesting for Icelanders to see how visitors traveling in Iceland organize their trip and gear. Icelanders didn’t start to travel around the country in any numbers during their summer vacations, until the forties and fifties, in the 20th century. From that time up to the eighties and nineties, they used tents for shelter and sleeping. Today most of us rely on something much heavier and bulky like caravans or trailers for our little private home away from home.

Visitors and tourists traveling in Iceland

On the coastline in Iceland, there are a few tiny villages, or hamlets, that are deserted. Most of those places had a role and a purpose decades or centuries ago connected to fishing and fish processing. Most of them also lost their function when fishing grounds disappeared with a decline in the stock. One such hamlet is Gjögur located on Strandir in the West Fjords region. Fortunately, Icelanders are interested in their heritage and family history, and many families that trace their history to such deserted hamlets continue to renovate and fix their families old houses.

You can find deserted tiny villages around the coastline

If you are up for a surprise when traveling, sometimes you can spot whales in some of the fjords. Last week we were traveling at Strandir, the east coast of West Fjords and saw these two whales playing in the fjord Steingrímsfjörður. Like many other travelers, we couldn't resist stopping and stepping out of the car with our telephoto lenses and binoculars. The size of these animals and the noise they make in the water when surfacing and breathing are always incredible.

Sometimes you can spot whales while driving in Iceland

This beautiful small canyon is in Bjarnarfjörður on the east coast of the West Fjords. It is only one of many that you can spot from the road while driving the road at Strandir, from Bjarnafjörður to Ingólfsfjörður. It is often interesting to stop and walk to a canyon you see from the road, and discover the real beauty of the landscape from a short distance. In this instance, we were able to walk to the bottom of the canyon which made our camera quite happy.

This beautiful small canyon is in Bjarnarfjörður

The geothermal development in Iceland in recent decades has many advantages apart from heating houses. One great advantage is the fact that there is a swimming pool in almost every small town and village around the coastline. Most of them heated with hot water from the ground. In the tiny village Drangsnes on the east coast of the West Fjords, the residents took the concept a bit further in a delightful way. They built three Hot Tubs by the main road through the village for anyone, visitors and inhabitants, to dip into for relaxation and enjoyment.

Advantages of geothermal heating

Reykhólar is a tiny village at the entrance to the West Fjords. Although almost hidden and rarely mentioned anywhere today, Reykhólar is an interesting place from a historical viewpoint and has quite a unique place in Iceland’s history. For centuries, the farm Reykhólar was considered one of the most valuable estates in the country. Not only because it was an excellent farmland, but also because it owned hundreds of islands in the large fjord, Breiðafjörður, islands that included many perquisites.

Reykhólar is a tiny village in the West Fjords