A Gray Day on the Black Sands of Djúpivogur

  • Day 24, Voyage of the Vikings 2019
  • Thursday, Aug. 22, Djúpivogur, Iceland

The description of today’s three-hour shore excursion accurately described our adventure. “The tour progresses at a fairly easy walking pace; however, all the walking is on sand, uneven ground and gravel… there might be some wet areas on the beaches.”

The only thing the description omitted was the length of the walking – more than four miles per my watch pedometer. My knees may never recover!

Actually, the “Black Sands of Djúpivogur” excursion from Holland America is a great way to explore this small southeastern harbor town in Iceland. The sand really is black, the result of volcanic rock being finely ground by glaciers. It piles up in dunes interspersed with grass tufts that anchor the sand from the wind.

We crossed to what once were islands over causeways created by the tides and currents. Our trek took us along Ulfseyjarsandur (Ulfsey Beach) and to Ulfsey Island. At the tip of the peninsula we came to Kalkur, where despite the intermittent mist and light rain, we caught a glimpse of Papey Island, a premier bird-watching locale. We didn’t see many birds today, though.

We did see many tiny flowers and other plants that thrive in the sand and moss, and Eloise captured them on her camera. Our local guide identified them all and explained how some are used and where they are prevalent.

He also wore an interesting pair of gloves – made with two thumbs so they aren’t hand-specific.

On our return trek we walked along a long black-sand beach that, I understand, is even more stunning in the bright sun. Our day was wet, with low hanging clouds, periods of rain and wet ground all around. It was the only time on this cruise so far that I wished for waterproof boots, although it probably wasn’t worth buying and bringing them. By the midpoint the water had soaked into our shoes, but with temperatures in the 50s it was just uncomfortable.

That discomfort set in for me when we returned to the end of the abandoned gravel runway where vans had dropped us off. No vans – we walked the couple of miles back to the harbor. The urge to go faster (in search of a restroom) fought with the soreness of my knees brought on by the walk on uneven surfaces. The downsides of growing older, I guess. Later I went back to check the tour description, and yes, it did state we would walk back to town. At least I logged nearly 5 miles before lunch!

Back on the ship I collapsed in the cabin with my knees elevated while watching The Shipping News, a movie set in Newfoundland. Many of our movie selections feature our destinations on this journey. Later in the Crow’s Nest I chatted with a couple that joined the ship in Rotterdam. It’s the culmination of their 11-month trip, which started from Fort Lauderdale on Holland America’s Maasdam. They’ve combined cruises with longer land trips across the globe.

He is one of many people I have met who suggested their friends and family follow along by reading my blog. I always encourage fellow passengers to share the link.