Rúnar Óli Karlsson

Hornstranded!

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve can be a gift that keeps on giving. But the area can also eat you alive and spit you out the other end

 

The most remote corner of Iceland is called Hornstrandir. Sticking out into the North Atlantic, the nature and climate is rough and unforgiving to the unprepared. The area was habited for thousands of years but was abandoned in the late fifties when people saw more opportunities in the towns and villages further South. 
I’ve seen many hikers with high hopes boarding the ferries in Ísafjörður, looking forward to some nice days of hiking in Hornstrandir, only to be picked up the day after with everything soaking wet, broken tent poles and a big dent in their self esteem. Also, nobody wants to be the person that the ranger sends back right on the beach because he or she is wearing jeans, carrying a tent from Walmart under the arm and sandwiches in a shopping bag.

So, here are few points to get you on the right track and lead you to a successful backpacking in Hornstrandir. Most of it also applies to other wilderness areas in Iceland.


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New Tour - Wild Camp Discovery!

Do you like the idea of packing a kayak full of camping gear and disappearing into the wilderness for a few days? If you do, then we have the perfect trip for you. Heading out into the wilderness can seem a little daunting at first. What if I capsize my kayak? What if the weather turns a little ‘Icelandic’? What if I can’t find my campsite? These are all legitimate concerns for those who are not used to it. This new tour takes care of all of these concerns, leaving you to enjoy the beautiful nature and magnificent views.

We are very excited to announce this new multi-day kayak tour aimed at those who want to experience the delights of multi-day kayaking and wild camping but don’t have huge amounts of experience.

The benefits of kayak camping are well known. It’s all about simplicity. Traveling light means that you can fully immerse yourself in the environment without huge amounts of gear holding you back and getting in the way. Sleeping outside is a wonderful experience which not only allows you to see but also hear and smell the nature around you. The bark of the Arctic Fox in the distance and the smell of the salty sea breeze coming from the ocean while in your tent, is something you will remember forever.

We camp on a small secluded beach at the very tip of Folafótur peninsula. It’s a charming area with magnificent views across the fjord to the snowy mountains of the Snæfjallaströnd coastline. The area is rich in history. There are ruins of houses and small farms which were populated about a hundred people during the early twentieth century.
We visit the island of Vigur, which is home to thousands of breeding sea birds during the summer months. The island is known for the farmers who collect the highly insulative eider down feather from the nests after the birds have left, which is then used to make luxury bedding. After a tasty lunch on the island, the next stop is the rocky shoreline of Hvítanes peninsula where we visit the colony of seals. They are very curious and often swim close to the kayaks, allowing us great photo opportunities. On the final day we complete our trip by kayaking all the way back to Ísafjörður.

 

There are many reasons why this tour is particularly suited to inexperienced kayakers. The area in which we kayak is fairly sheltered, with no long crossings or exposure to big swell. If the wind picks up, we have many options for alternative routes and the distances we cover are shorter than on our other tours. All of this combined creates a wonderful introduction to kayak camping.

CLICK HERE, for more information about Wild Camp Discovery.

Please get in touch if you have any question about this, or any of our other tours.

See you next summer!

A Very Westfjords Winter

One of the most frequently asked questions from our guests is “What do you do during the winter?”. Yes, it’s true, tourism sees a sudden decrease during the winter months (and autumn, and spring!). But that doesn’t mean that we pack up and head for the hot tubs for 9 months, although an occasional visit is a must.

Summer time is our busy time, so as soon as the autumn is here we’re definitely happy for a chance to rest a little. We love working out in some of the most beautiful nature you will find anywhere in the world, but our sore legs give a little sigh of relief when the bookings start to slow.

Many use this time to travel. The adventurous nature of our team means taking a break is a very temporary affair. While Iceland’s average temperature begins to drop and the mountains slowly transform into their wintery white colour, we like to travel to seek out adventures in other parts of the world, where the weather is slightly more favourable. From mountain biking and rock climbing, to white water kayaking and fell running, our team know how to enjoy themselves in the outdoors.

Some of our guides seek work in other parts of the world. Some go to the south of Iceland to lead glacier hiking tours, some head further afield to work in exotic locations. However, they always return during the summer as the draw of working in the amazing Westfjords of Iceland is simply too much!

Many in our team study during the winter. We certainly have a few bright sparks amongst us, some are studying mathemantics while others learn about geography and geology. Some even have degrees in outdoor education and leadership, which certainly helps out while guiding groups in the wilderness!

The company does not take any such breaks from tourism. The gear needs to be maintained, the vehicles all need servicing and our beloved Kvíar lodge is always being improved. Now with a wind turbine!

And of course the marketing team is busy attending conferences, developing new tours, improving our web content and continuing the social media grind.

Our town of Ísafjörður doesn’t see any direct sunlight for around two months during the winter due to it’s northerly latitude and the surrounding high mountain tops. However, as the Christmas and New Year holiday seasons pass, the sunlight begins to show itself again. With this comes great ski conditions. We’re lucky enough to have great skiing in the area with downhill and cross country ski areas as well as world class ski touring, especially in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve.

During the spring time, Ísafjörður hosts an international cross country ski race and we always enjoy competing or cheering on the competitors. The music highlight of the year comes in the form of Aldrei Fór Ég Suður (I Never Went South) music festival every Easter. A great chance to hear Icelands best music.

As you can see, there’s plenty to do! Before we know it, the midnight sun returns along with our wonderfully adventurous guests who join us on our tours, and we get to explore all of our favourite hiking and kayaking areas all over again!

Gunnlaugur Grétarsson

Relocation of Bjarnarnes ferry

We have decided to relocate the home harbour of Bjarnarnes, our ferry to Hornstrandir Nautre Reserve, from the harbour in Bolungavík to the harbour in our hometown, Ísafjörður.

Number one reason being, that our passengers don't have to worry about transportation to Bolungavík anymore. The new location is within walking distance from our office in the Borea café.

Second reason being, that this will bring us, the staff at Borea closer together and we’ll see each others faces more often and we happen to like each others faces…

So we hope this will make our lives and yours just a little bit easier.

 

Check our schedule and price list for 2015 HERE!

Rúnar Óli Karlsson

Dates booking up fast for the sailboat ski trips

The sailboat skiing was the first product that Borea offered in 2006.

The day after we arrived home after the Atlantic crossing from Ireland, we set out for the first ski trip in perfect conditions. Seats are booking very fast for spring 2015 and you should start making up your mind to get your hands on the ski trip of a lifetime. We have dates available in March, one week in April (20-25th) and on the last two trips in May. It's never guaranteed when the best snow and wether conditions are. We've had knee deep powder in the end of May.

Hope you make it to Iceland for an amazing skiing experience!