Iceland, Day 15, August 4–Raudasandur, the Red Beach

This is our last day exploring the back country of Iceland.  This morning we visited the light house at Sellatranes, down the road from the hotel.  The lighthouse looks tiny but check out the white dots at its base–those are the ever-present sheep!

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Looking across the fjord, we had a great view of the flat-topped mountains on the other side.  At least 6 copy-cat land fingers reach out to the sea.  The unusual part is they look like someone took a knife and sheared off their tops at the same level.  We could find no explanation for this but it looked wonderful.  (There’s probably some troll legend involved)

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Next, we’re off to the Red Beach, Raudasandur, on the other side of the peninsula.  What a trip.  Best beach and worst road ever!  The drive’s no joke; they did tell us to expect a challenge.

 Significant grades—some 12 %,

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 Many banked hairpin turns no wider than the car,

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 And all overlooking shear drop offs with no rail.  

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John did a great job getting us in and out of the area.  If you visit, do make the trip.  It was spectacular…as long as you have a car with 4-wheel drive and a driver with nerves of steel!

We were practically the only people there!  There was a public camp site well back from the entrance to the beach.  At the beach entrance we saw postings, “NO CAMPING ALLOWED.”  The signs said dangerous winds and surf can come up unexpectedly causing life-threatening conditions.  Guess this can be a pretty brutal place in a storm.

The beach was deserted.   Just inside the gate was a collection of whale bones that must have washed up.  This display would be at home in any hands-on museum collection.

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The water was cool, not cold.  Wading was fun.

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At mid-day the sand was more gold than red, just beautiful. 

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The waves created patterns in the sand that would make a great relief. 

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 One looked just like a heart…

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 And we found wonderful reflections as the tide went out. 

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 After our long walk, we climbed the hill at the entrance and had a picnic lunch by a waterfall,

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Overlooking the beach (and more sheep), we even found some wild blueberries.

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Just to recap…we’ve just spent the morning on a deserted beach at the bottom of a mountain that can only be accessed by an impossible dirt road.   So, we decide we need a little dessert. 

Naturally, we just head off to a French Cafe at the other end of the beach.  No kidding, there was one there, with fantastic chocolate cake and coffee.  How do they have these great places in the middle of no where?  And how do they get supplies? 

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Even better, it was beside another beautiful little church, complete with gravestones from the 1800’s. Another Icelandic mystery….how did they live in this isolated place over a hundred years ago? 

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14_grave_stone

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This marker is for Kristin Magnusdottir, daughter of Magnus—that’s how people got their last name.  If this had been a male, the last name would have been Magnusson.

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 When we had blue skies, they were phenomenal.  This is the blue we saw over these mountains—just this color this time of day!

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On the way back to Latrabjarg we kept looking for whales in the brilliant blue of the fjord.  They had seen some recently—but not today.

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At the hotel we had wine and cheese on the beach, along with about 1000 Arctic terns.  (If you look closely, you can see Isafjordur on the other side of the fjord.  And to think how long it took to drive here.)

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They kept taking flight–not at all happy we were there!

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A few brave leaders dive-bombed us, just to make sure we understood we were intruding.

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Eventually, we did leave for dinner, but only after Susan and I built our own little cairn as a monument of our visit.  Wonder how long it will last?

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We did our best to pack enough into our last day in the Westfjords. Tomorrow we begin the final leg of our trip.  After all this time getting to know Iceland, we finally tour the capitol, Reykjavik!


 

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