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The birdlife

The birdlife

The East boasts of a brilliant birdlife, most migrant birds arrive here, and vagrant species from mainland Europe are common guests, especially in and around Djúpivogur. Fljótsdalshéraðs coast is the home of world’s largest breeding colony of arctic skua, as well as common looms, great skuas, geese, swans and waders. The fjords are full of eider ducks and a great colony of gannets lives on the island of Skrúður. In the highlands, the wilderness around Snæfell, the Eyjabakkar and Vesturöræfi are home to the pink-footed goose and at Borgarfjörður and Skálanes, as well as in Papey, you can almost touch the puffins.


Gerpir is the easternmost tip of Iceland.
Magnificent view, high rocks and cliffs (661 m alt.) Making your way along the edge of cliffs some 12 million years old is an experience you´ll never forget. Throughout the area ( "Gerpissvæðið") there are many marked trails, walking paths and hiking routes, construed by the hiking club Ferðafélag Fjarðamanna. Prior to visiting, obtaining a good map of the area is a sensible optinon - or getting in touch with a local information centre. The area is also popular among kayak enthusiasts and mountain bikers.


The "Hafnarhólmi" in Borgarfjörður eystri is an area highly suitable for birdwatching. On the premises there is a staircase leading up to a platform where one can get closer to puffins and the birds of the sea than ever imaginable. The puffins arrive in April and disappear overnight around August 15th. Underway to Hafnarhólminn one enjoys good close-ups of vivid birdlife and the artic tern nests along the shore and on banks of the river. The harbor proudly raises the blue flag indicating that the inhabitans are respectful and attentive towards their surroundings.


For centuries Papey was the only inhabited island off Iceland's east coast. The name is a Celtic one, meaning "Friar's Island." Two 12th-century Icelandic sources affirm Irish monks founded a hermitage here, perhaps having been chased off the mainland by the Norse. However, excavations have not yet confirmed habitation prior to the 10th century.
Settlers led a self-sufficient life growing potatoes, tending sheep, sustaining themselves on birds, eggs, fish, seals, and sharks. Later generations harvested down from eider-duck nests.
Papey's population peaked in 1726, totalling 16 inhabitants. The last full-time resident left the island in1948. Prime time to visit is spring until mid summer, when Papey is overrun with guillemots. Puffins and other birds are seen until the end of August, though some birds are seen through summer as well as the seals.
Papeyjarferdir in Djúpivogur offer guided tours to Papey during the sommer.
The island boasts Iceland's oldest wooden church.

Between Reyðarfjörður and Eskifjörðu you can visit the Nature reservat Hólmanes. This is a ideal place to enjoy a good walk either down to the sea or up the hills. Birds and remarkable rockformations can be enjoyed in Hólmanes. With luck you could stumble upon a herd of reindeers.

Skrúður is a island haven in the mouth of fjord Fáskrúðsfjörður. It is surrounded by high cliffs accessible only to the bold and brave. On the island there is a sizable cave which was occasionally used as a shelter for sailors making their way southwards. Legends say there were three giant brothers living in the East, one of whom made his home in Skrúður, the other in Streitishvarf and the third on the island of Papey. The Skrúður dweller abducted his wife from the on-shore vicarage of Kolfreyjustaður; the local priest´s young daughter. Legends relating to their insular existence lived among the sailors who visited the island.


Snæfell, towering to 1,833 m, is the highest mountain in Iceland outside the glacier regions. Even so, and despite the omnipresent snow, (Snæfell = "The Snow Mountain), it is fairly accessible from Snæfellsskáli hut. While Snæfell boasts a splendour of its own, it offers a fabulous view, partly overlooking the oasis of Eyjabakkar. Eyjabakkar is a choice habitat for geese. Reindeer can frequently be spotted west of Snæfell, towards Hálsalón reservoir, in addition to other territories in the East Iceland highlands.


Iceland's largest forest surrounds Hallormsstaður. Experiments with imported tree species were initiated here in 1903; in 1938, the first larch grove was planted, demonstrating that wood cultivation was feasible in Iceland. In fact, the woods are an extensive and congenial area, and in late summer large quantities of berries and mushrooms are yours for the taking. A home economics´ school with dormitories, which initially only accepted women, now educates both sexes. It is placed in a stately building dating from 1930. The Hallormsstaður arboretum is unique in Iceland, comprising a collection of around 70 tree species. Many enjoy stralling through the arboretum, and there are well-marked trails throughout much of the surrounding woodland, clearly indicated on a map published by the Forest Services.

East Iceland

Towns & Villages

Each town in East Iceland has its own characteristics. In some of the coastal villages the influence of North European neighbours is obvious to everyone. 

The French made a strong impact in Fáskrúðsfjörður where the road signs are made out in French as well as in Icelandic. Norwegian influence is easily detected in the Eskifjörður and Seydisfjörður architecture. No such roots are to be seen in Egilsstadir which is latest addition to East Iceland agglomeration, founded in the late forties of the 20th century.  

Map Vopnafjörður Borgarfjörður Eystri Egilsstaðir Seyðisfjörður Mjóifjörður Fljótsdalshérað Neskaupstaður Breiðdalsvík Eskifjörður Reyðarfjörður Fáskrúðsfjörður Stöðvarfjörður Djúpivogur