2 Day Hornstrandir Hike - The Hornbjarg Cliffs | BA-03
An adventurous wilderness hike in Iceland’s most remote nature reserve
Visit Hornvík Bay and the epic Hornbjarg cliffs in Iceland’s most remote nature reserve. On this immersive two-day trek, you’ll traverse the untouched parts of the Westfjords where there are no roads or settlements, only pristine wilderness. This area can only be reached on foot or by boat. Hiking these untravelled paths surrounded by endless calm and peace is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! On this two-day tour, you’ll sail around a large part of the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve by boat, hike approximately 14.3 mi. (23 km) over two days, and spend a night in tents at our base camp, where you’ll enjoy the luxury of a heated kitchen and delicious local food. If you’re looking for the adventure of a lifetime, join us for this unforgettable wilderness hike!
- 2 days
- Total Distance
- 23 km / 14.3 mi
- Max. Ascent
- 500 m / 1640 ft
- Moderate (3/5)
- Min. Age
- 16 years
- 98 300
- Scenic boat rides across Ísafjarðardjúp and jökulfirðir and Adalvik bays
- Hornvík Bay
- Hornbjarg bird cliffs
- Hafnarskarð Pass
- Veiðileysufjörður bay
- Very high chance of seeing wild Arctic foxes
- Millions of sea birds nesting on the cliffs
- Chance of seeing whales and dolphins during the ferry ride
- The most impressive sights in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve
- Comfortable base camp with a kitchen tent
What Is Included?
- Boat ride to and from Hornstrandir Nature Reserve
- All meals from the start of the hike
- Accommodation in made-up tents
- Professional hiking guide
When limited to only a few days in Hornstrandir, the toughest part is deciding where the best place to hike is in this enormous nature reserve. That’s why we’ve already done this research for you! According to travelers that have hiked all over Hornstrandir, Hornvík Bay and the Hornbjarg cliffs are definitely the most impressive parts of the entire nature reserve.
The pristine Hornvík bay is surrounded by highly scenic cliffs that are home to over six million nesting birds. Nature here is breathtaking and the wildlife is incredibly rich.
Some of the bays in Hornstrandir were once occupied by our ancestors, who harvested this land and fished in these waters. Due to its remoteness and harsh landscape, the last human residents moved away about 60 years ago, leaving the entire peninsula uninhabited.
Thus, the flora and fauna have had an exceptional opportunity to thrive. Now Arctic foxes, birds, seals, and plants live and grow there in peace and harmony. Since the last human inhabitants left Hornstranir centuries ago, the Arctic fox no longer sees humans as their natural enemy. Therefore, the foxes often come by hiker’s camps to say hello and mooch food. You can often see the little cubs playing around the tents and playfully approaching the campers.
On the first day of this tour, we’ll meet in Isafjordur, the capital of the Westfjords. After boarding a small boat, we’ll set sail towards Hornstrandir, the untouched nature reserve.
On arrival, we’ll start hiking right away, following the path to the scenic Hornbjarg cliffs. From here, Greenland is just under 186 mi. (300 km) away! Although we probably won"t see that far, the view over the North-Atlantic ocean and the jagged cliffs of Iceland’s northernmost fjords is simply breathtaking!
After the hike, we’ll return to a campsite located in the valley where we’ll spend the night in comfortable two-person tents. We’ll also have a big, heated cooking/eating tent, where we’ll spend time socializing and drying off our gear.
The next morning, we’ll start hiking towards Veiðileysufjörður fjord on the southern side of the peninsula. The boat will pick us up from here around 5–6 pm to take us back to Ísafjörður, which will take about an hour.
This trek is suitable for regular hikers. The difficulty ranking is moderate to challenging, depending on your physical strength and previous hiking experience. Most of the time, the path is easy to walk, but there are parts where the terrain is quite rough. Some sections of the trail are covered in loose rocks and snow. There is a total elevation gain of 2950 ft. (900 m) with some relatively steep ascents. Participants need to be confident at hiking on uneven, rocky terrain and able to complete steep ascents.
Hornvík bay and the Hornbjarg cliffs
We’ll meet at 8 am for a short briefing at our office in Aðalstræti 17, Isafjordur. We’ll give you an overview of the tour and answer any questions you might have before our 9-am departure from Ísafjörður harbor on our passenger boat, Bjarni.
The ride to Hornvík Bay will take 2–3 hours. On the way, we’ll see the jagged coastline and the beautiful fjords that are carved into the peninsula. The ferry will drop us off in Hornvík bay at Horn, a deserted, old farm. We’ll start our hike here, following the path that circumnavigates the edge of the magnificent Hornbjarg bird cliffs. The path is very easy to follow with a mild and gradual ascent.
As we gain elevation, the view will become more and more breathtaking. After just a short hike, we’ll find ourselves on the edge of the cliffs and follow the coastline up to the 1312-foot (400-meter) high Hornbjarg.
In clear weather, by carefully looking down the cliffs, we can enjoy spectacular views over the ocean with the curving line of the cliff edges standing before us. We might even see whales surfacing or jumping in the distance! We’ll be able to see and hear thousands of birds soaring over the edge of the cliffs, living their busy, noisy lives.
This path will take us to the most scenic places and viewpoints. After exploring the area and taking millions of photos, we’ll descend into the valley, where our camp will be awaiting us with a well-deserved dinner! We have a big, heated kitchen tent, where we’ll spend time warming up, socializing, and drying off our gear.
At bedtime, we’ll head for our comfortable two-person tents, which will already be set up and ready for use.
Hafnarskarð Pass and Veiðileysufjörður fjord
On the morning of the second day, we’ll have time to rest and enjoy the fresh air. After a hearty breakfast together in the kitchen tent, we’ll say goodbye to beautiful Hornvík Bay.
We’ll take the path that leads across the mountain and hike towards Veiðileysufjörður fjord on the southern end of the peninsula. With a steady ascent, we’ll hike from sea level up to Hafnarskarð Pass, located at an elevation of approximately 1640 ft. (500 m) above sea level. Even in summer, the path is often covered in snow, but the guide will be there to help if you need any assistance.
As we hike up to the pass, there will be several viewpoints where we’ll stop and look back over the bay. In clear weather, the view is truly spectacular! After we’ve reached the highest point, we’ll follow the path all the way down to the shoreline. The view over Veiðileysufjörður fjord is just as fantastic as that of Hornvík Bay!
The boat will pick us up around 5–6 pm to take us back to Ísafjörður. This boat ride will take about an hour, allowing us to enjoy the views along the wild coastlines on Hornstrandir one last time.
The weather in Hornstrandir can be challenging, so come prepared with high-quality, wind- and waterproof hiking gear. Please avoid cotton as it gets very cold and heavy when wet and takes a very long time to dry.
- A warm and breathable base layer (with long sleeves)
- An insulating fleece or thermal layer
- A water-repellent, fast-drying, and durable shell layer
- Water- and windproof rain gear
- Broken-in, waterproof, high-top hiking boots, which provide good ankle support.
- A hat and gloves
- A small backpack
- A personal medical kit with band-aids, throat lozenges, lip salve, seasickness tablets, etc. Don't forget any personal medication that you may need! (e.g. an asthma inhaler, even if you don’t always need it)
- Sunscreen and after-sun cream
- Binoculars, for watching wildlife (optional)
- A water bottle
- A camera with extra batteries
We provide the tents, sleeping bag, mattress, and pillow and you will not need to carry any of this with you. However, you will need to bring your own sleeping bag liner and pillow cover.
The itinerary is a guide only and is subject to change depending on the weather, sea conditions and the ability of the group.