Exploring the Route of Pearls with Time Tours
As is often the case, biggest does not necessarily mean best and this is also true when it comes to touring Iceland. Time Tours is a small and friendly family-run company that goes out of its way to help you get the most out of your stay in Iceland and delivers quality, informative tours at reasonable rates.
Time Tours offers all the major day tours from Reykjavik such as the Golden Circle, the South Coast and Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon, the Blue Lagoon and Snæfellsnes Tours. But this innovative company has recently added a new tour to its roster, known as ‘The Seal Route’ of the Vatnsnes Peninsula. The fact that no other tour company in Iceland, that I know of at least, offers this tour was enough incentive for me, and exploring every nook and cranny of Iceland is something that I never tire of. So when I was offered the chance to go on the maiden voyage of Time Tours’ Vatnsnes Peninsula Tour, I didn’t hesitate.First things first...the weather report
The weather was typically Icelandic, exciting! We saw it all that day, sunshine and clouds, rain and wind, misty mountain tops and more wind. What Icelanders call the ‘real Icelandic weather,’ which is the most authent
ic way to see Iceland.Where’s that?
If you have ever driven to Akureyri, you have will have passed the turn-off to Vatnsnes without even realising it. At 190 km from Reykjavik, it lies about half way from Reykjavik to Akureyri, making it ideal for day tours. First stop, the main service town in the area, Hvammstangi. Here we pop in for a visit to the Seal Centre (Selasetur). Via its various exhibits, cultural displays, documentaries and even seal folklore, the Seal Centre offers a non-partisan view of seals in Iceland, their role in Icelandic history and present-day sustainability issues surrounding this sometimes controversial creature. A fascinating documentary (in English) about seals in Iceland plays in the basement and can fill you in on many cool details that you might otherwise have missed.
As we travel north along the west side of the peninsula, steep undulating grassy slopes lead down to the sea and we stop to inspect an empty ‘réttir’ or sheep round-up pen that lies just a few metres fro
m the sea. Further along, with binoculars in hand, we keep a sharp look-out for seals lying along the shoreline. At Illugastaðir Farm we get out of the minibus and walk down to the water’s edge where we have a great clear view of a large seal colony resting on the skerries and beaches just offshore. Known for their innate curiosity, seals will often swim quite close to shore so that they can get a good look at you. We break for lunch at Geitafell Farm with its curious round tower which was used to store ‘sour’ hay in the old days. We are warmly greeted by hosts Róbert Jón Jack and his lovely wife, Sigrún, who serve a superb seafood soup, a fresh salad from their own garden and a wonderfully not-too-sweet skyr cheese cake served with coffee. After lunch we’re off again, trav
elling around the tip of the peninsula to the eastern flank, where the views to the east-north-east are magnificent. Below us sits the 15 metre-high Hvítserkur rock, which sometimes looks very much like a dragon drinking peacefully from the sea. Our final stop is the Borgarvirki Crater which is an ancient volcanic plug and used by Vikings as a fortress. Because of its natural amphitheatre shape and good acoustics, it has been used for music concerts during the summer in recent years.
I would love to linger a while longer in this little-visited corner of the country but it has been a long and exciting day and its time to begin our journey back to Reykjavik. In my mind I cannot help but think what so many others before me have no doubt also said, ‘I’ll be back!’ Geitafell
Vatnsnesi • 530 Hvammstangi
+354 861 2503 email@example.com
Borgarholtsbraut 42 • 200 Kópavogur
+354 578 7111