North-east Iceland is not the most popular region, but that doesn't take away from its many points of interest, including superb hiking trails.
The trail to Raudanes Point offers an absolutely magical landscape to all those brave enough to complete the long loop in the Thistilfjörður fjord.
Raudanes is located halfway between Raufarhöfn (the remote village with the famous Arctic Henge) and the town of Þórshöfn further south. To get there, take Road 85 towards Raudanes and after about 1.5km you will come across the Raudanes Point car park.
A small sign will point you in the direction of the trail, and the path is very well indicated and shouldn't pose any difficulty. The loop is 7 km long, and it takes 2 to 2.5 hours to hike along the coast to the point and back to the car park.
The trail is a great walk in itself, but also a sort of art exhibition as it takes you by no less than 16 rock formations, each more spectacular than the last, and a thriving birdlife in the skies above you.
As explained on the sign at the entrance to the car park, the rock formations were created during an eruption several centuries ago. The sands of time and tidal erosion carved the beautiful lava sculptures into what they are today.
The hike is relatively easy, despite some steep areas. You'll reach the coast and the first rock sculptures after about 1 km of walking from the car park. It's something of a mystical experience, seeing these arches and basalt towers rising from the sea.
All the arches are numbered and have fantastical names such as Gatastakkur (see photo), or the huge Gluggur arch which was created by a collapsing cave. As the waves lap at these sculptures, you can see how they were eroded over time.
You're likely to encounter some sheep on your way there, and some may even follow you for a few minutes, so don't be alarmed. The sensation of solitude and connection with nature here is powerful, the only sound being that of waves and birds. This rich and diverse birdlife seems to leap onto the stage about half-way up the train with thousands of seagulls, gulls, fulmars or puffin colonies nesting in the rocks nearby.
This trail saves the best for the ending: the best views and most beautiful rock formations are undoubtedly right at the tip of the peninsula, in Stakkar, nesting ground for a large colony of puffins.
The return path takes you through the meadow, a bit inland where the sheep roam, before turning onto a small path that leads to a farm. From here, it's about 1 kilometer to the car park and the starting point of the hike.
The Raudanes hike is a real must-see if you are in the North East region or visiting Þórshöfn.
photo credit Gatastakkur : renatehenkel@fotolia