Westfjords – Respite

By Donald Boyd

After many months spent surveying the core of Iceland’s Central Highlands amidst endless days and nights of the summertime midnight sun – indulging a love for the region where I’ve been based for the past two seasons — I found myself ultimately gripped by exhaustion. Although the Highlands are undoubtedly worthy of further exploration, one can only take so much time immersed in a particular location without pause. Deprived of a change in setting, exhaustion quickly developed into apathy and then apathy into disconnection. I needed a break.


“You’ll read in most guidebooks that the sizeable region is the least visited by tourists and even among Icelanders, very few make the journey to this vast fjordland.”


So… where does someone who has spent an entire summer exploring some of the most remote and distinct landscapes Iceland has to offer travel to for a recharge? Well, to somewhere even more remote and equally as distinct from the rest of Iceland, of course – the Westfjords.

But honestly, I’m not surprised, because for me this region is one of the most profoundly difficult to translate what you see into words and likewise just as challenging to capture its grandeur in photographs. It’s not really a place you can easily describe using such illustrative methods… it’s more of a place that you fundamentally feel — right down to your roots. And that’s what all of the travel agents, guidebooks, visitors, and myself alike can’t quite communicate so easily.


To truly understand, you’ll have to visit yourself


As soon as you span the splinter of land connecting the rest of Iceland to the Westfjords and crest the first major mountain pass, you’re suddenly met with a primitive sense of connection to what you witness. An instinctive feeling starts to swell. It’s tough to fully grasp at first, but as you move forward you realize it’s as if you already know it somehow. The further you wind along the seaside and through the fingers of tabletop mountains, the feeling matures. A sense of calm and energy ensues.


My introduction to the area back in 2015 was profound. And now, for me, the Westfjords is a place I desire to visit when in need of reestablishing my connection to nature in a fundamental and strangely familiar manner. Those who live in the region know the feeling very well.