FAR OER ISLANDS 2015
Saturday 30th May to Sunday 10th May 2015
Leaving Iceland while it was snowing and arriving in Thorshavn (430 km south of Iceland) the capital of the Faroe Islands with 4 degrees and sunny skies was amazing and 4 degrees Celsius never had felt so nice and warm.
As we approached the Faroe by ship in the Southern Part of the Arctic Ocean 18 islands sneak up on the surface of the horizon. 46.000 people, 70.000 sheep and more than 3.5 million birds live in this unspoiled paradise. The capital is Tórshavn and with 16.500 inhabitants it is probably the smallest capital city in the world. As we got our truck of the ship we were welcomed with the words ‘welcome to the end of the world”
The 18 islands, separated by narrow sounds or fjords, spread out of an area of 1,399 sq.km. The largest island is Streymoy where Tórshavn is located. The islands’ highest point “Slaettaratindur” is 882 metres. On average the land is over 300 metres above sea level. About 21000 people live in Thorshavn and surrounding villages while about 4,600 people live in Klaks¬vík, the second largest town in the Faroe Islands. The other 20000 live across the remaining 1200sq kilometres and 16 other islands. Summer temperature reaches up to 12 degrees. Highest temperature ever measured in the Faroe is 22 degrees. The fishing industry is the most important source of income for the Faroes. Fish products account for over 97% of the export volume.
Main roads in Faroe are superb, however the secondary roads are not really designed for our truck, with no railing and just on 2.5 meters wide and steep drops (many times on both sides), made very interesting driving…
After we did our shopping on the day of arrival and filled our truck with water (1000 litre) we were ready to explore the Faroe Islands. Next morning we woke up to brilliant sunshine and our first stop was the small town of Kirkjubour. During the middle Ages, Kirkju¬bour was the cultural centre of the Faroes. Here was the bishop’s residence at that time. From here we drove to Sydradalur where we asked the local sheep farmer if we could park on his property near the beach overlooking the beautiful Vagafjordur and Hestsfjordur,; it was 7 degrees and we decided to sit outside for a while.
Next day we moved to the island of Vagar taking a subsea tunnel.
Vagar (and Mykines) are the two western islands of the Faroes. The tunnel under the Vest¬manna Sound (4,900 metres) is of major importance for tourism, (you are charged 60.AUD for a return trip!!) as well as for everyday life in Vagar. Our aim today is to drive to the picturesque village of Gasadalur now that the one lane tunnel is open.
The film ‘1700 metres from the future’ was about the lack of a road connection and the post route over the mountain made Gasadalur world famous, however enroute we came past the small town of Bour, so we decided to stop here in a little to look out for a camp for the night. After we had visited Gasaladur our ship was picking us up in 7 days so we had to plan our days in the Faroe hence a visit to the island of Mykines did not happen. (Only accessible by small boat). On Vagar itself we also visited the well-kept 3 small villages of Sanda-vagur, Miovagur, and Sørvagur.
Beyond the tunnel to Kollafjorour lies Northern Streymoy, the broad and mountainous part of the main island of the Faroes.
The village of Kvívík is the site of the interesting remains of a well preserved Viking farm¬stead. Leynar, a small village set amidst some of the most splendid scenery in the Faroes, is home to a lake full of seatrout and salmon. Beyond these ancient villages lies the enterprising town of Vestmanna from where we planned to take a boat cruise to the famous bird cliffs, but with pouring rain and 60km per hour winds we decided against it. But we are told no vista is as magnificent and awe-inspiring as the 600 meters high bird cliffs from sea level. Driving the narrow sound between Streymoy and Eysturoy looks like a river valley and here are the peaceful and well protected villages of Kollafjorour, Hosvík and Hvalvík.
From here we followed a very narrow one lane track/road through the long and wide valley of Saksun. This picturesque and more or less flat road is a paradise for cyclists. The narrow, one-lane road follows a delightful shallow river full of small rapids. Saksun is tucked away at the end of the road and is one of the typical villages in the Faroes. From here we crossed as some people say the only bridge over the North Atlantic ocean; It spans the narrow channel of Sundini to connect Eysturoy with the larger island of Streymoy. This part boasts the tallest mountain in the Faroes. The towering Slaettaratindur soars 882 metres. The road passing under this mountain connects two of the quaintest villages in the Faroes. The village of Eioi sits astride a narrow flat isthmus and the view from above the village down across the fjord, with Slaetara-tindur in the distance, is magnificent. Gjogv lies at the other end of a narrow mountain road; its sea-filled gorge and idyllic village are a must visit in the Faroe islands. Backtracking on an exciting steep descent along a very narrow mountain road to the old Viking village of Funningur and along the deep fjord of Funningsfjorour to Elduvík with its clustering houses protecting each other, is an impressive experience, with a variety of Faroese scenery and habitation. The area around Oyndarfjorour has an attraction that actually lies beneath the sea. Rinkusteinar, or the rocking stones, are two huge boulders just beyond the shore near the village. As the sea ebbs and flows around them, the Rinku¬steinar rock gently back and forth.
Fuglafjorour is the fifth largest town in the Faroe with 1500 people. The harbour is a busy place where a steady traffic of local and foreign boats give life and colour. Our reason for visiting was fresh bread and a visit to the only Hot spring on the islands called Varmakelda, It is said, from ancient times, that the spring water has a healing effect against various illnesses. However we were used to 42 degree hot springs in Iceland and this Hot spring was just 18 degrees!!! Too cold for us. We followed the coast line passing through the three villages of Syorugota, Gotugjogv, and Nororagota. At the eastern end of the fjord we found the village of Nes with its old wooden church and its historical vicarage. A perfect overnight stop at the harbour. On our return journey we headed into the hills above Toftir where there is the football stadium, constructed especially for international football competitions (FIFA approved). Beyond the stadium further up in the hills is the beautiful lake Toftavatn. By now we had only one day left as the ship was going to pick us up and bring us back to Denmark. We spent the whole day in Thorshavn, enjoying the old centre of the town which is still well preserved and lively.
When we entered the old town and walked around among its old houses, we got lost in a confusion of lanes and narrow passages, a very nice area full of steps and rocks and tiny black-tarred houses with white windows and green turfed roofs. It looked like we were on the set of an historical film or in a museum, but what we saw was in fact a genuine town dating from the middle Ages and still alive with hens and children and all the buzz of ordinary life.
A town that never fell prey to an all-destroying fire, as was the case of almost all other Nordic timberbuilt towns of that time, and thus it is unique not only in the Faroes but in the world.
Faroe Islands, not an Off Road destinations, but with beautiful people and scenery.
Time to board our ship back to Denmark from where we will drive back to Holland to prepare our truck for another year in Africa. We fly home to Australia and start planning our 3rd Africa adventure