I Got Your Puffins Right Here, Pal!

(Check out the puffin photo bombing us)

So, when last we left you, we were headed up the east coast of Iceland and boy have we done that, twice in fact for several hours (but more on that later).

So, currently , I am sitting outside, sans foot coverings on a beautiful afternoon on the Langaness Peninsula at a guesthouse on a sheep farm. No Kiwis here – luckily for the sheep!

Here is the corridor

The place is built with converted shipping containers. Funky, funky, funky…

So, the day after our last post was supposed to be spent going out to Papey Island on a puffin colony tour. However, late in the day before the excursion, Gunnar emailed me to let me know the boat no longer complied with EU regulations (those had changed) so he wasn’t able to put it in the water for the start of the season.

So, I started scrambling as we REALLY want to see puffins. Our first trip to Iceland was a week or so too late for their nesting season here. Asking around, I found a place in the far northeast called Bakkagerdi Estry (Estry is east , as there is another Bakkegerdi in the south. This is a small country and they have a LOT of words, why do they need 2 towns with the same name? Oh, and there are at least 3 Reykholts!)

So, anyway, it is a 3+ hour drive somewhat in the direction we are headed anyway. We changed hotel reservations for the next night and in the morning we took off.

So, that evening we met a couple from eastern Washington who used to live near us, in Richmond Beach, WA. In getting to know them over dinner, it turns out their son is marrying a young lady we know from Edmonds!

So, next morning we had a late breakfast and hit the road. We stopped for waterfall photography along the fjords.

So, since we had plenty of time we had a cappuccino in a cute little town, took our time & stopped for lunch in another town that had a bakery with amazing cookies. We then checked email to learn the hotel where we spent the night before, 2 hours south of us, had sent a message that one of us left a small pair of hiking boots at their hotel.

So, I figured since they are small boots, it wasn’t me so must have been the previous guest. Nope! My traveling companion… nuff said. So, back we go to Djúpivogur A slightly different route so we had more fosses to shoot.

So, it really is a beautiful country and even when you are in a rush to backtrack, you HAVE to stop and smell the waterfalls.

So, we grabbed the boots, turned north again & finally made it to Bakkegerdi Estry and found the puffins’ summer residence. The road, once you are north of Egilsstadir , has some very rough sections. They call them gravel roads here but you can’t think of a US gravel type road. These are more hard packed dirt with rocks from pea sized to softball sized. Sometimes there are potholes and sometimes not. That’s why you rent a 4wd vehicle here. We have a Dacia Duster – a Renault/Romanian joint venture. (The car is well named) This is what we had in our 1st trip too. I’m used to Iceland roads and driving but, oh my Odin, this day was for the memory bank. Very steep and hairpin turns thrown in with thick fog. Take your time and all will be well.

So, here they are in all the glory I can provide- please pardon the plethora of pics. I even ran out of space on my memory card or I would have more to show you.

I especially like the last one as it looks like his arms are behind his back and he is asking, “Are you looking at me?”

So, then we found a little bar and grill in BE that had just opened that day for the summer. The menu was limited to lamb burgers (about 10 varieties) + ham and cheese sandwiches. They also are one of only 2 pubs in Iceland serving a particular craft brewery’s wares.

They were quite concerned about their WC etiquette it seems

So, if we thought the drive TO the puffins was tough, the trip to that night’s stop made it look like a walk on a glacier. Oy! This one included all the same road for the 1st hour and then what turns out to be Iceland’s highest mountain (road) pass – also ‘gravel’ but with 17° grade up and then down. About 10 miles of this intensity- with no guardrails and sheer drops – in both sides at the same time occasionally. The only good bits of this leg were it was still light (‘sunset’ at 11:30) and we did not see one other vehicle on the mountain the whole time – & I know why! It was a real clencher. I’m glad we do not have to go back that way. We found out this morning that the road just reopened for the summer about a week ago.

So, today, we drove up here –

after stopping at the gas station to clean the rental (sacrilege!). All the stations here offer free hoses and brushes for just this purpose. If you take out your map, and look in the northeast for a peninsula that looks like a goose, that is where we are.

We stopped to play with some horsies along the way.

We had lunch nearby in Pórshöfn at the only restaurant in town. The waiter told us it is Fishermen’s Day so all they are serving is lamb soup and Guillemot eggs (I have seen a documentary where people go down the cliffs on ropes to collect the eggs from the birds’ nests. It is pretty dangerous. I did not realize this is where they do it.), and it is free. The town is buying everyone’s lunch today!

We heard some commotion at the harbor (Höfn) after lunch and they were having a knock him off the log competition- into the cold water of course).

So, that is all I have to report for now. Tomorrow, we are headed out on a landrover tour of the area including more birds. Gannets, (they mess their nests), guillemots, gyr falcons, auks, ptarmigan and of course, PUFFINS! Maybe some pufflings (babies), if we are lucky.

Mikid af Ást

Nancy and Chris

6 thoughts on “I Got Your Puffins Right Here, Pal!”

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