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May 1, 2011

Puffin photography at Látraberg

by swebackpacker

One of best places on earth for Puffin photography is Látraberg on the west coats of Iceland and Europe’s most western point. It´s possible to reach Látraberg with a two days bus ride from Reykjavík. If you arrive in the morning with a flight at Keflavik airport you can reach Stykkishólmur in western Iceland in the evening, continue next morning with ferry to Brjánslaekur there a bus picks you for a two hours drive to Látraberg. I don´t recommend such a high-speed to Látraberg, there are many more nice places to see on the way.

The most important things to consider is which bus pass or bus passes one need to travel arround western Iceland. If going all the way up to Ísafjordur it´s best to buy the West Iceland Circle bus pass. If not interested in west fjords but would like to see the Snaefellnes area on the west coast buy the Snaefellnes & National Park bus pass and pay for the ferry with single tickets between Stykkishólmur and Brjánslaekur. If interested in both areas buy the West Iceland Circle pass and single tickets to areas of your interests such as Stykkishólmur to Arnarstrapi in Snaefellnes. There is a third option to buy Full Circle with the North West peninsula included in bus pass for the ring road around Iceland and the westfjords. Remember that the bus passes are far cheaper than single tickets for each leg on the journey. The cheapest way to travel on Iceland is by plane. If you need to save time buy the West Iceland Circle pass, go by bus to Ísafjordur and fly back to Reykjavík. Domestic air tickets is remarkably cheap, if you can fly early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Although one is only using the West Iceland Circle bus pass for half the journey and fly back to Reykjavík, it´s probably still cheaper to buy the bus pass. The bus from Brjáslaekur to Látraberg is not include in any bus pass, one need to pay for a return tickets as well, no one way tickets. It´s important to plan the travel schedule to Látraberg since the bus from Brjáslaekur to Látraberg is going on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, the return journey from Látraberg to Brjánslaekur is on the same days. If interested in cycling around Iceland one can put the bike on the bus and do the boring legs by bus. Plan your travelling and buy your bus pass in Reykjavík.

Látraberg has no hotel or any service in th near surroundings, the nearest place is a camping area with cold water and a toilet about ten kilometers from the bird cliffs. One needs to bring a tent, sleeping bag and be self-sufficient with food. I recommend to stock up on food already in Reykjavík. The big food stores with the cheapest prices are in Reykjavík harbour area! The next possible area to stock up on food is Stykkishólmur with a far more limited supply. Never run out of food anywhere on Iceland  it can be a long way to the nearest shop!

I had the following schedule around Snaefellnes and west fjordlands. Reykjavík – Stykkishólmur one nights – Arnarstrapi three nights – Stykkishómur two nights – Flatey one night –  Brjánslaekur – Látraberg two nights – Brjánslaekur – Ísafjordur one night – Horstrandir three nights –  Ísafjordur one night – Reykjavík.

Flatey is the largest of the Breidafordur islands, the ferry Balder stop here on the way in between Stykkishómur and Brjánslaekur. There is a camping area and a small hotel and some houses. This is a tranquil area with a nice view over Breidafordur. However, if you stay at the camping during the weekend, young local people are coming to party. It doesn´t matter if it´s heavy rain, the party continue outside the tents anyway, until wee hours. The Iceland people has good cloths for really bad weather. The saying is, there is no bad weather only bad cloths. I visited the restaurant at the hotel. On the menu one could find different kind of fish dishes, lamb and puffins. The food tasted very good. Puffins were difficult to see on  Flatey since they are hunted for food.

The ferry Balder left Flatey at 10:30 and arrived in Brjáslaekur at 12:15 just in time for the bus to Látraberg. The bus ticket is expensive, please note, that you are paying for a return ticket, even if you only travel one leg out to Látraberg. One will arrive at the lighthouse at Bjargtangar at 14:00 in the afternoon. This is Europe’s most western point and the start of Látraberg cliffs rising 441m above the sea. This is one of the best places in the world for Puffin photography. The puffins have not been hunted for food since 1950s, so they are not shy or afraid of people. One can come as close as two meters away. Actually the bird can sometimes come to you in even shorter distance and make it difficult to take pictures since they are to close! Puffins dig their burrows near the rim of the cliffs, it depends on you how close to the rim you dare to go.

Puffins arrive at the cliffs in the third week of April, they stay at the same burrow each year. The burrows are up to two meters deep. They leave Látraberg in the end of August.

With a tent, a sleeping bag, a kitchen, some food and a couple of bus tickets one can go to one of the most extraordinary  birding areas of the world isn´t it fantastic!

© SWEBackpacker, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material including pictures without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to SWEBackpacker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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