On my only full day in Iceland, I took a tour a little ways north to Snaefellsnes, a long, narrow peninsula jutting out west into the Atlantic. One of the things that surprised me was how colourful the mountains were. Two mountains standing next to each other would often be completely different colours. According to a geologist from New York who was also on the bus, rhyolite and iron oxide explained a good deal of the variation. Another thing that surprised me is how badly photographs captured the mountains’ colours. But, for what they’re worth, here are some pictures (in this post, incidentally, clicking on the images should open up larger versions of them):
The snow-covered mountain in the right of the following picture is Snæfellsjökull. I don’t ever, ever, need to hear again that according to New Agers it is one of the seven energy spots in the world or that this is where the entrance into the earth is in Jules Verne’s novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth. But it is a beautiful mountain:
Here’s one of the many bird cliffs along the peninsula. The kittiwakes occupied the cliffs close to the water — as in this picture — and the fulmars occupied the cliffs hundreds of metres above our heads. The tour guide called all of them gulls. Sigh.
An arch along the shore in Arnarstapi:
The sound was equally impressive here. When big waves came in you could see them pushing an entire wave of rocks in front of them, which would result in a terrific roar when the rocks were swept back towards the sea. You get some of this effect at lots of beaches but I think it was more dramatic here because rocks derived from porous lava weigh a lot less than most other rocks.
Here’s a view from the same beach but looking back towards Snæfellsjökull:
Two more mountain pictures from farther inland:
If you’re ever flying somewhere via Iceland, you might want to think about stopping there for a bit. It’s worth it.